In case you discover that your tween or teen has been chest binding — or if they arrive to you expressing curiosity in doing so — you may need some questions on how one can finest help them.
Whereas it could be new to you, chest binding is a quite common gender-affirming observe amongst transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals, in addition to others within the LGBTQIA+ group. As Dr. Kryss Shane, LSW, LMSW, tells Scary Mommy, chest binding is the observe of wrapping athletic binding or sporting a binder garment to flatten the chest, serving to to alleviate physique and gender dysphoria with out surgical strategies (aka high surgical procedure).
Together with merchandise designed for this objective, there are a number of strategies of binding one might use — extra on these in a sec. First, a bit extra about binding on the whole and the way it can present consolation to your little one whether or not they’re experiencing bodily modifications on account of puberty or are of their later teenagers and about to embark on maturity.
What’s chest binding, precisely?
Likening chest binding to sporting compression/shapewear clothes, Shane says that binding “helps the wearer really feel extra comfy of their physique based mostly on the way it modifications the physique’s form beneath clothes, merely providing an opportunity for the wearer to really feel extra assured of their look.” Others may wish to “cross” as extra masculine, with binders providing a method to take action in a non-permanent, simply reversible method.
Sadly, a number of binding strategies may be doubtlessly uncomfortable and even unsafe, so in case your little one involves you with questions or is looking for help, being supportive and affirming is the very best factor you are able to do, says Shane. Many instances, teenagers specific curiosity in binding after they “start to indicate breast curves or after they turn out to be extra apparent in clothes,” which is able to range based mostly in your kid’s growth.
As with many features of gender dysphoria, chest binding is shrouded in societal stigma, which leaves many LGBTQIA+ and gender non-conforming youth feeling ashamed or afraid each of their altering our bodies and of the power to alter their look. Analysis is extraordinarily restricted, however in 2019, the New York Instances spoke to greater than 200 readers of various ages who’ve reported chest binding. Respondents famous that regardless of bodily points associated to binding, the optimistic results on their psychological well being make the observe value it and, in some circumstances, an absolute necessity for his or her psychological and emotional well-being.
The right way to Safely Chest Bind
“Those that have help are sometimes capable of achieve binders or have assist being wrapped — that is preferrred,” says Shane. “For many who lack familial help, they could select to bind utilizing no matter they’ve entry to. This will likely embody duct tape, which may peel the pores and skin when eliminated; binding too tight, which may minimize off circulation and forestall deep respiration; or sporting them for too lengthy if they’re arduous to get proper with out assist, resulting in hygiene points.”
The NYT report particulars extra well being issues confronted by individuals who bind, together with the danger of overheating throughout train or in heat climate, backaches, shoulder tightness, dizziness from too-tight binders, sternum and rib ache, chafing and bleeding, and bronchial asthma points.
In case your tween or teen expresses curiosity in chest binding, begin a dialogue in the event that they’re open to it, says Shane. “Speak along with your little one to search out out their targets. They could need bigger garments to cover curves, or they could need monetary help to buy binders. Ensure you speak about hygiene (together with learn how to wash them following garment instructions, learn how to wash their physique after removing) and in addition talk about plans for instances when swimsuits or altering in entrance of others might happen, comparable to fitness center class.”
Whereas some will use Ace bandages, duct tape, or put on a number of sports activities bras and shirts to flatten the chest, merchandise designed for binding (comparable to TransTape and clothes by Underworks, gc2b Transitional Attire, or Shapeshifters Inc) are a lot safer and extra comfy if utilizing a correct match. Serving to your tween or teen with their measurements and supporting them as they discover completely different merchandise is a good way to indicate them that you’re there for them in a non-judgmental method. If buying binders shouldn’t be accessible, Level of Delight and FtM Necessities provide free binder applications for these needing them.
Binders ought to really feel cosy with out limiting their capability to breathe and shouldn’t be worn for longer than eight hours at a time or throughout sleep. The Cleveland Clinic additionally recommends taking days off from binding, when attainable; choosing light-weight, breathable materials; staying hydrated; and preserving a watch out for any potential unwanted side effects, particularly as regards to respiration and/or pores and skin irritation, bleeding, cracking, and ache.
In the end, your help is probably the most essential facet of chest binding, because the observe usually permits wearers to really feel assured and safe of their look, says Shane. “Binding with out help may be dangerous each in the usage of problematic gadgets (duct tape or the like) in addition to reminding somebody every day that they’re struggling to bind with out the help of these of their residence. Nobody ever needs to really feel unsupported, however for kids and teenagers, the burden feels much more intense as they haven’t but absolutely grown into having wholesome coping expertise.”