Everything parents need to know about chest binding

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Resources & Support | 0 comments

What is a binder? Which is the best one to buy for my child? Buying the right gender-affirming clothing for your children can be daunting. We’re here with Roo Hallett (he/him), owner and creator of Trans Shop UK, to guide you through this.

Firstly, what is a binder and why do people wear them?

Chest binding is when you wrap something around the chest to flatten the chest tissue. This is commonly done with a binder, which is a tight-fitting piece of clothing. They often look like sports bras, sometimes even with a zip or velcro. 

For most people, it is used to create a more ‘masculine’ silhouette. 

This is a gender-affirming experience for trans and non-binary people, which means they feel more comfortable within themselves and their gender identity. Some bind everyday, while others do not at all. 

Roo, a trans person himself, defines binders as a ‘useful tool to deal with gender dysphoria’. 

Gender dysphoria is a deep sense of unease and foreboding that may occur when your gender identity does not match with the gender you were assigned at birth. For example, you may be assigned female at birth, but you feel a deep inner sense of being male. 

Binding can help with this if that person feels as though their breasts/chest are undermining their gender identity.

A model wearing the Wonderworks binder from Trans Shop UK.
A model wearing the Wonderworks binder from Trans Shop UK.

Is chest binding safe? 

Yes, if it is done correctly. 

Roo has provided some advice for binder-wearers to ensure they are as safe as possible: 

  1. Wearing a binder that is too tight for you, which causes any pain at all, could harm you. Please make sure your binder fits properly!
  2. If you have been wearing your binder for over 8 hours we recommend taking a break. Please wear a larger size for exercising.
  3. If you are under 18 do not wear a binder for over 6 hours and please wear a larger size for exercising.
  4. Do not sleep in your binder.
  5. Please do not ignore pain, discomfort or irritation. If you experience any of these please take a break from binding for 24hrs and remeasure yourself and consider a larger size.
  6. We have found that Hormone Replacement Therapy can change the shape of your body. So you may need different sizes of binders over the course of your transition or if you gain or lose weight for any other reason. 
  7. If you have any medical conditions (e.g. skin issues, arthritis etc) then please get your doctor’s advice.

Mermaids, one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities has some great advice on wearing a binder in hot weather as well as lots of other advice.

Where can I buy binders? 

Roo’s online shop, Trans Shop UK, stocks Underworks Binders from the UK. 

Roo said: “Underworks is a store with a great reputation for binders and supplier to the medical market in the USA. 

“I wanted Underworks binders to be available in the UK via a locally based trans run business.”

This is a particularly good place to buy from as it is a trans-owned business. They sell binders for everyday-wear, as well as binders to wear while swimming. 

Their binders fall around the £28 mark, and are discreetly packaged, shipped from Roo’s home HQ. 

They also sell some trans and non-binary pride merch, such as T-shirts, stickers, badges, and socks. 

Another great place to find binders is Spectrum Outfitters, another trans-owed online shop. 

Their website also includes information on how to put on a binder, as well as how to measure your chest in order to buy the correct size. 

Where can I find more info on chest binding?

Below are some helpful resources you can read and explain to your child about chest binding. It is vital that you make sure they’re binding safely and correctly to avoid health complications. 

  • The Clue website includes many helpful tips and tricks on binding for trans and non binary people. 
  • The AKT website has a page on binding with tips from the LGBT Foundation. 
  • The TOMSCOUT website has a page on swimming with a binder. 
  • The Fit is a Feminist Issue has a page on running safely with a binder. 

Whichever safe binder you and your child choose, the main thing is that it helps them to feel more comfortable with their gender identity.