If you have any trans or gender non-conforming friends, you may have already heard about binding.
But what is it and how do you do it safely?
Binding, put simply, is the act of compressing your chest with material to achieve a flatter form, with the intention of appearing more androgynous or masculine. It is generally associated with assigned female at birth (AFAB) individuals who have a masculine or androgynous gender expression as their chest can often get in the way of their gender presentation and cause a lot of dysphoria. Binding can be an exploration or a step on the way to the more permenent option of getting top surgery for transmasculine people, or a way for genderfluid and gender non conforming individuals to be able to adequately express themselves in the moment, regardless of any wish to change their bodies permenently.
The choice to bind is a personal one, based on individual comfort and circumstances and it's necessary to add that some people choose to use other methods to hide their chest (or not). Of course if a trans or non binary person chooses not to bind they are still 100% valid and it doesn't necessarily correlate that they will have less dysphoria about their chest either.If someone is unable to bind but still wishes to present a more neutral or masculine figure, they might choose to layer clothing or wear garmets like sports bras to give them a flatter form without so much discomfort. Patterned shirts are also good at camoflaging lumps and bumps!
Either way if you choose to bind, make sure to find the right binder for you and keep to the safety guidelines outlined in the comic below which was made by Maxwell Hunter for Transleeds.
Maxwell Hunter is an artist and writer from Leeds who works in a wide range of styles from realistic portraits to children's book illustrations. A former student of Wakefield college Max studied video game design with an interest in story development, animation and concept art. Max draws a lot of inspiration from areas he is passionate about such as lucid dreaming, mental health and LGBT+ related topics. He has been featured in several places such as Buzzfeed and Huffington Post and was awarded FTM Magazines Artist of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Check out Maxwell's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more wonderful art.
TransLeeds is a support and advocacy group for transgender identifying people in Leeds and the surrounding area, as well as their families and friends. We aim to provide practical help with all stages and aspects of transition. check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for an array of resources and socials.
Have fun and stay safe! ■