What is FTM binding? To put it short, chest binding is a great way to fight gender dysphoria. Usually, FTM binding is common with people whose gender identity does not match their sex. People who bind are trying to compress breast tissue to look less feminine, creating a masculine look.
Even though chest binding seems like a fairly easy process, if you do it wrong, the outcomes can cause serious health issues. Also, if you are new to FTM binding, many tips & tricks can be super helpful for a beginner. So why don't we go over this topic together and learn more about chest binding?
FTM binding 101: top things to know
• Don't use the ace type of bandages, duct tape, or plastic wrap. Some beginners start their binding journey with the things that are easy to find but not suitable for FTM binding. Why you should never bind with duct tape and similar products? It might cause liquid build-up in your lungs, your breathing can be strongly restricted, and in some cases, it can even cause extremely serious health issues - broken ribs, long-term scars, infections... And we haven't even started talking about dermatological effects, that are similar to allergic reactions. Use sports bras, chest binders or transtape instead.
• Don't bind for longer than 8-12 hours. It's totally understandable that you want to bind all the time since it makes you feel more comfortable with yourself. However, binding too much can cause negative effects. The consequences of binding every day include pain (shoulders, chest, abdomen), skin irritation (itching, swelling, tenderness), issues while breathing (breath shortness), and others. The most simple way to avoid this is to take breaks.
• Getting ready for top surgery? Don't bind too often! You might be thinking "ok, we got it. You can't bind all the time, because it can cause health issues". Well, when you are planning to have top surgery, this aspect is more serious than you think. Binding too much can even affect the outcomes of the procedure. It affects skin elasticity, resulting in the healing process taking longer.
• Don't wear FTM binders that are too small for you. Let's say you've bought a binder, thinking that is created specifically for this, so there's no way it could go wrong. Oh yes, it can. If you'll choose the wrong size, you'll be not only extremely uncomfortable but risking your health once again. Shortness of breath and painful skin indents are only a few unwanted outcomes of wearing a size smaller FTM binder.
• Avoid binding during heavy physical activities. Once again, it will cause shortness of breath, and rashes that could be similar to allergic reactions, as well as making you feel extremely uncomfortable. When planning any physical activities, choose a sports bra or loose, free binders instead!
Curious to know more? Check out this article!
Chest binding - do it right!
Now that we know all the possible risks, let's talk about how to bind safely. If you just bought an FTM chest binder, here are the easiest steps to put it on:
➊ Begin by turning your binder inside out.
➋ Try putting it on from the bottom, pulling it higher, just as you would put on your pants.
➌ Once the binder reaches your chest, put your arms through the armholes.
➍ Make sure that the binder provides even compression, without causing any pain or uncomfortably. Adjust the FTM binder if needed.
Legally binding: chest binding with transtape
FTM Transtape has the same purpose as a binder - it helps with gender dysphoria and gender identity. How to safely bind with transtape, step by step:
① Start with clean, dry skin. The skin should be a moisturizer, lotion, and oil-free. Additionally, you might want to shave for the adhesives to be as effective as possible.
② Covering your nipples is a must since you don't want those strong adhesives to seriously damage your skin. You can DIY a nipple cover, or buy a special strip.
③ Adjust the size of the transtape with scissors if needed. However, some transtapes are not adjustable, so make sure that they are made to be cut before doing so.
④ Remove all the protective papers without touching the sticky side.
⑤ Get ready to put the transtape on - gently push your breasts back and down, then line up the tape and try to carefully put it on. Begin by laying about 5 cm (2 inches) of transtape.To activate the adhesive, try carefully rubbing the surface. Continue by gently covering your breasts, and at the same time, avoid any wrinkles.
⑥ Once it sits comfortably on your breast tissue, remove the remaining piece(s) of protective paper(s). Then, repeat these actions if the ends of the strips are loose or if not all breast tissue is covered.
⑦ Make sure that you're feeling completely comfortable - you can move & breathe freely, without any pain. If you're experiencing any of those negative effects, you need to adjust the tape to avoid any side effects.
Seems a little too confusing? Here are detailed instructions on how to put the FTM transtape on:
Transgender health - is binding safe?
Pain, shortened breath, scars, infections, allergy like symptoms, rashes, reduced skin elasticity... It might seem that FTM binding is almost a life-threatening practice. Surely, it has some risks, but so as many things that we do every day - consuming energy drinks, smoking, binge-watching "friends" until 4 a.m., and so on. FTM binding has mental health benefits regarding gender affirmation, but knowing the risks is a must - being aware helps to avoid some of the possible negative effects.
The most important aspect when FTM binding is taking good care of yourself and listening to your body. If you're experiencing any unwanted effects, firstly remove the binder, then contact your healthcare provider. Remember - it's normal that you might feel uncomfortable while talking about FTM binding with your doctor, however, the doctor is here to help you. Being open with your healthcare provider is an extremely important step to staying healthy!