What exactly is chest binding?
Good starting question, glad you asked! Binding is a technique used to minimize the appearance of a person's breasts. Some transgender men or gender-nonconforming individuals use binders (compression undergarments that look like spandex-y T-shirts) to bind the breasts to the body, creating a flatter chest.
A typical binder is not only very tight but usually made of durable nylon and spandex — making them notoriously uncomfortable to wear.
BuzzFeed News reached out to two individuals to get the dos and don'ts of binding. Dane Menkin is a certified registered nurse practitioner and clinician at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia. Elijah Renard is a Canadian video game designer who has been binding for over three years and was happy to provide tips from personal experience.
Is binding really safe?
How many hours is too many hours to wear a binder?
Is there a time when I shouldn't bind?
What should I be doing to take care of myself while binding?
How do you get this thing on?
Binders can be a little tricky to get on and off. OK, very tricky — so don't be embarrassed if you get stuck. If possible, have someone help you at first until you're comfortable getting changed in and out of it.
Once you get it on, make adjustments so you don't have the dreaded "uni-boob" in the center of your chest.
Binder rolling up at the bottom? Try tucking it in or sewing extra fabric onto the bottom so you can tuck it in — problem solved.
How do I know what size to get?
Menkin: "There is no good answer to this. It is as personal as finding the right pair of jeans. All of the places I know of to buy binders also have size charts. I advise people take the time to measure themselves prior to purchasing."
Renard: "Most vendors will have instructions as to how to measure your chest using a tape or rope. Many trans & gender-nonconforming people are not very aware of traditional breast size, so I recommend using fruits:
A Cup = Medium to large size strawberry
B Cup = Small clementines
C Cup = Grapefruit
D Cup = Honeydew melon
Above = I have no clue. Out of fruits."
Now, where can I get one?
Some online vendors:
Binder recycling programs:
Mazzoni Center's Binder Recycling Program