Chest binding Tips and Tricks for trans men, nonbinary, and FTM people.
People bind in many different ways: Some people wrap their chests with elastic bandages, some wear a sports bra, neoprene or athletic compression wear, or layer several sports bras or shirts. Others wear commercially-available binders specially designed for this purpose.
Like many transgender people, when I first Googled “being transgender,” plenty of the links were about how to bind your chest. In recent years, trans awareness has been spreading and binder companies have been flourishing, so I want to share my list of the best binders you can buy.
I’m assigned female at birth (AFAB) and have so far been unable to pursue any kind of medical transition, like hormones or surgery. That makes binding the number one way I shift my body to a more traditionally masculine shape — and I’m just one of many trans people who do the same.
Everyone binds differently. Some people bind only for special occasions, others every day. One study surveying people who bind reported that the average person bound their chest for around 10 hours per day, with the most popular methods being commercial chest binders, followed by sports bras, shirt or bra layering, and bandages or elastic materials.
A 2016 study — the very first on FTM chest binding — done by a five-person team at The Binding Health Project found that half of the 1,800 respondents bind their chests seven days a week.
A report from the study revealed conclusions from the survey and research, saying, “Based on our preliminary analysis, for most participants, binding was a positive experience and led to improvements in mood and self-esteem, minimized gender dysphoria, anxiety, and depression, and helped them to feel in control of their bodies.”
However, researchers also cautioned folks that binding can cause health problems, including “pain in different parts of your body, to shortness of breath, to bruising or other skin changes.”
That’s why it’s so important to find a binder that fits you well, and to keep a close eye on your body while you’re binding.