A Parent’s Guide to Chest Binding for Trans and Gender Diverse Youth
As a parent of a trans or gender-diverse young person, you may be wondering how you can support them in their transition or exploration of their gender identity. One important way to do this is by helping them to feel safe and comfortable in their own skin. For many trans and gender-diverse people, binding their chests helps them feel more confident, comfortable, and affirmed in who they are. This can be a crucial step toward self-acceptance and improving their overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explain what chest binding is and provide you with a guide on how to choose a suitable binder for your child, as well as tips on how to support them through their transition.
What is chest binding?
Chest binding is the process of compressing one's chest tissue to flatten or minimise it, usually with the desire to create a more masculine or gender-neutral appearance. There are different ways to do this, some of which are safe and some of which can be quite dangerous. We'll talk about the safe ways to do this in a bit, but first, let's talk about some of the unsafe methods.
Chest binding with tape
Chest binding with tape is one of the unsafe methods of binding. This is because it can cause significant skin damage, including tears, sores, bruising, and rashes. Tears caused to the skin from the removal of the tape are painful and can leave permanent scarring. Many companies sell tape marketed to trans people for binding, but they all come with the same risks and can harm a young person's body.
Chest binding with ace bandages
Chest binding with ace bandages is another unsafe method of binding, which can have dangerous consequences. This method can cause broken ribs, punctured lungs, and other serious injuries due to how the bandages contract around the body. There is no way to bind safely with ace bandages. Still, unfortunately, young people who don't have access to safe binding methods will often choose this.
Chest binding with sports bras
Some people try to bind their chests using sports bras that are too small and by layering multiple over the top of each other. This can be unsafe because it can overheat the body, make breathing difficult, cause pain, and put a lot of pressure on the ribcage. Over time this method could cause their ribcage to warp and badly affect posture.
How to bind safely
If worn correctly, chest binders are the safest way for someone to bind their chest. This is because they are made to fit people's bodies safely without restricting movement. You should only purchase binders from reputable brands and follow their guidelines for use. Ordering from a brand that has its own website and offers good customer service, including returns, is a way to ensure that you buy from a reputable seller.
What is a chest binder?
Chest binders are compression garments worn over the chest to give a flatter appearance. They come in a variety of different styles and can be made from a range of materials. However, most are made using spandex or Lycra fabric, with a more rigid panel in the front. Chest binders can look like crop tops, tank tops, or vests and are designed to be worn underneath other clothing. Although they can be worn on their own too, with some coming in fun colours. Some binders can even be worn swimming, such as Amor Binders, which are made with chlorine-resistant fabric.
There are many different binders available on the market, each with its own pros and cons. However, not all chest binders are made equal, and some can be unsafe or just plain uncomfortable. So, learning about the brand and its particular product before purchasing is essential. Some cheaper binders available online are made from fabric that does not stretch and therefore restricts the body too much. Avoid ordering chest binders from online marketplaces such as Amazon, as they are more likely to be unsafe and poor quality.
How to choose a binder
Since so many different options are available, choosing a suitable binder can be overwhelming. But we'll outline a few things that can help you make the best decision.
Firstly, the length of time a binder can be worn is an important factor to consider. Some brands advise not to wear their binders for longer than 8 hours and suggest taking breaks during the day. This is because their binders are too restrictive for everyday use. This can be problematic for anyone who needs to bind throughout the day. So for kids who attend school, choosing a binder they can comfortably and safely wear all day without needing to take it off is ideal. This will save them the embarrassment and hassle of getting undressed on their lunch breaks to remove a binder. Sensory-friendly chest binders by Amor Binders are safer to wear for longer than most other binders, as they put less pressure on the body. These are a great option for active kids who participate in sports.
When choosing a binder for your child, it is also important to consider the following factors:
- Size: Make sure to get a binder that is the correct size for your child. If it is too small, it may be uncomfortable, and if it is too large, it may not be effective in flattening their chest. Check-in regularly with them to ensure the binder still fits well if their body is growing.
- Comfort: The binder must be comfortable to wear. Your child should be able to wear it for long periods without feeling too constricted or restricted. If a binder feels uncomfortable, it may be too small or have been worn for too long.
- Material: Some binders are made from materials that can cause skin irritation, so choosing one made from breathable fabric that will stretch and move with the body is essential.
- Hygiene: Wash the binder regularly and encourage good hygiene to prevent acne, fungal infections, and skin irritation. Provide at least one spare binder they can wear while the other is washed.
Every binder brand will have its own sizing, so be sure to follow their sizing guides when selecting a size. To get accurate measurements, it's best if you assist your teen in taking them. Amor Sensory has a fantastic guide on how to take chest measurements correctly.
Helping your child feel comfortable in their binder
Once you have chosen a binder for your child, it's important to help them feel comfortable using it and to continue supporting them. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Help them to select a size that is comfortable for them. You can do this by helping them to take their measurements accurately and following guidelines and size charts specific to the brand.
- Encourage them to wear the binder for short periods of time at first, and then increase the amount of time they wear it as they become more comfortable with it.
- Show them how to put on the binder correctly, and help them to adjust it as needed.
- Let them know there is no shame in wearing a binder and that many other people do the same thing.
Chest binding can be essential to transgender and gender-diverse people's journeys toward self-acceptance and self-love. As a parent, you can play a vital role in helping your child feel safe and comfortable in their own skin. We hope this guide helps you in doing so.