Some Not So Commonly Asked Questions
- What is a binder?
- A binder is a fabric top that individuals born with breast wear to flatten their chest. It has a similar appearance to a sports bra or a long tank top.
- Is binding safe?
- Binding is safe when it is done properly. So, avoid wearing your binder for more than 6-8 hours, never bind with duct tape or ace bandages and remember to stretch often.
- Why would someone want a binder?
- Binders can help transgender people feel less dysphoric (disconnected from their body). Binders are used to flatten an individual’s chest. Some transgender people wear them while others don't.
- How do I wash my binder?
- Attach two pieces of the Velcro/Zipper/Buckle.
- Turn the binder inside out.
- Place the binder inside a washing net and zip up the washing net.
- Wash the binder on low to Medium Spin in the washing machine
- When washing cycle is finished, hang the binder in ventilated area.*
*To ensure longer lifespan of your binders, it is always best to hand wash them.
- Can't I just use ace bandages and/or duct tape?
- Using ace bandages is not recommended because it is unsafe. While binders are made to allow for movement, duct tape and ace bandages are meant to restrict movement. This lack of movement can restrict or stop your breathing and can also bruise or break your ribs.
- Where can I get a binder?
- Many transgender people purchase their binders online. Underworks, GC2B, and FLAVNT, are just a few brands that sell binders.
- What if I can't afford a binder?
- There are a few alternatives to consider when you cannot afford a binder:
Don't use ace bandages or duct tape.
You can use sports compression bras. By putting them on backwards it can help flatten the chest. These are inconspicuous and can be layered to create a more masculine appearance. Remember the goal is not to have a perfectly flat chest, this is dangerous. You can also ask other transgender people if they can donate a binder to you. Supporting Transvivor also helps provider binders as a part of a starter kit to LGBTQ+ youth in need. Some LGBT Centers will have binders to donate to people in the community. While it takes the longest and is not for everyone, working out your chest can reduce your chest size and helps you build muscle.
- How do I put a binder on or take it off?
It's best to put a binder on like a shirt. Some try to step into their binders but this stretches out the material and limits its lifespan. It is easiest to unroll the back before the front when putting them on.
For taking a binder off long binders can be folded up in half and then taken off. If you need just ask a friend. No one enjoys being stuck in a bind. For short binders just pull it off from the sides and pull it upwards. This limits the amount of stretching that the binder endures. How comfortable is it to wear a binder? Getting a properly sized binder is important in this area. When in doubt go a size bigger. A binder can be uncomfortable, but if it is ever painful you should take it off and seek a medical professional.
For most people that wear binders it can help lessen the feeling of dysphoria which makes it more comfortable to wear.
- Should I get a half talk or a full top binder?
- That decision is for you to make. Both flatten your chest. Half top binders stop right under your "breasts" and full binders are long enough to be tucked in under your pants. Some pros of the half binder are that it is not as warm to wear and they are usually cheaper. Cons: They can roll up at the bottom or if you have a bigger chest they may not compress as well. Pros of full tanks: They do not ride up as often. They can also make you look squarer because they flatten your stomach. Cons: They are very warm and can be a hassle to tuck into your pants.
- How do I choose a size for my binder?
- Binders are sized differently by each company. You should measure the largest part of your chest to determine your binder size.
- When shouldn't I wear my binder?
- Don't wear your binder if you are sick or if you have experienced any chest pain as binding could make this worse. Also avoid sleeping in a binder as your chest needs to have a break occasionally. Be cautious when exercising or swimming.
- Can I swim or exercise with my binder on?
- FLAVNT is the only binder at this time that makes swimming binders. Some people recommend getting a binder a size up for swimming. Exercising in a binder can be restricting, so a compressing sports bra is recommended instead.
- Can I sleep in my binder?
- It is best not to sleep in a binder. It can make it very painful to wear a binder. Most people who sleep in their binder report needing the next day to rest from using a binder after sleeping in one.
- Can I wear my binder on a plane?
- Yes, you can wear your binder on a plane. Things to consider though are going through security and how long the flight will be. If the flight is going to be long consider not wearing a binder or drinking plenty of water and moving around often while on the plane. As for airport security, a binder can make your chest appear very dense on their monitors. If you have a fear of security it's best to be prepared to be stopped or leave the binder in your bag.
- What if I have a bigger chest?
- Don't double bind. This can lead to more problems than it is worth. Remember you are not trying to achieve a totally flat body. If your binder is leaving more bumps on the edges you can move your body around and pull your chest towards your sides (armpits) to help flatten out your chest. Remember to breathe and stretch often.
- Can I wear my binder after a shower?
- A wet binder is a tight binder. A tight binder is no fun. It's best to get a binder that is specifically for swimming or use a compression swim shirt.
Also, be careful when putting on a binder after a shower or bath. Wet skin is more easily irritated with a binder.
- What should I do while binding?
- Sit up straight and stretch. With your arms above your head take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth. Cough from your chest to expand your lungs. Make sure nothing hurts and take a break when you need to. Take care of your fine self. Like taking a hot bath.
Is this normal when binding?
- Getting winded after walking quickly, but able to catch breath
- Chafing in the underarm areas
- Soreness (during or after) in arms, shoulders, or back
- Increased acne on chest or back
- Mild anxiety about tightness
- Chest sagging
No, take it off. Go to a doctor if it persists.
- Nausea during or after binding, including nausea caused by pain
- Can’t catch breath when not wearing binder
- Skin rash
- Sharp pains in ribs
- Not able to cough or sneeze
- Numbness in arms
- Feeling too tired/sore to do everyday activities
- Suddenly having symptoms if you've been binding for years
See a Doctor ASAP.
- If you feel something is wrong.
- Extreme claustrophobia
- Panic Attacks
- Sharp pain in chest
- Heart skipping beats/ beating very fast
- Not able to breathe
- Blueness in lips or fingertips
- Change in shape of ribcage