age for binder

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  • max powers

    Okay so. Since you're so young, it may be that your chest hasn't even developed yet (puberty happens to different kids at different ages, I personally was flat as a board at 12 and sprung out C cups at 13, I actually got stretch marks on them from how fast they grew, even though I was a skinny kid and didn't have stretch marks in other places) and if you don't have breasts yet and know you don't want to get them and your parents/doctors/country's healthcare accessibility and the stars all align, it's possible you could get puberty blockers (e.g. lupron) and never have your chest develop at all. The idea with that is, later in your teens, if you still feel sure you're trans and want to go ahead with it, you can then start T and your chest will develop like a cis male chest, which will also save you top surgery down the road. (If you change your mind, you can just go off the puberty blockers and let nature take its course. Even if you don't think you will change your  mind, it might be helpful for your parents to know this and make them feel more comfortable with you getting blockers.) If you're a heavier kid, you may not feel certain if you've developed breast tissue or if you just have prepubescent fat on your chest (puberty does tend to happen sooner to AFAB kids who are chubby, because of the estrogen made by fat, but it's not a hard rule) but you could ask your doctor about that and if you'd still be a candidate for it. You may want puberty blockers even if you have started your chest development, both to prevent other parts of puberty, and because your chest development may not have finished yet.

    If this is something you don't think is for you, or if there are other reasons why it isn't accessible, or if you're already on it but still have some chest development you want to bind....

    Binding, if done correctly, is a lot safer than it's cracked up to be, in my opinion. There's a long history of society concern-trolling AFAB people for shapewear (mostly directed at women, but I think society sometimes takes a while breaking itself of the habit of treating transmasc people like women) which you can see in Victorian-era handwringing over corsets and crinolines. (Contrary to popular belief, most corsets were not tightlacing, and were actually not unsafe or even that uncomfortable, but this is a whole historical side-rant.) And there's also often a weird reverse culture of insisting they're actually healthy, like in the Victorian era some people said corsets helped with posture and back pain, and today there's a lot of people who think bras are a health necessity rather than shapewear. I think the fact is that anything worn to alter the contours of your body is simply shapewear. People of all genders wear shapewear. Men's girdles are also shapewear, jock straps are shapewear. Shapewear is usually pretty safe (though not exactly beneficial for health) unless it's taken too far. Bodies squish a lot and can be molded, but they have limits.

    But we've all heard some horror stories where binding went wrong. So, what happened there, and how can it be prevented?

    The most serious side effect you may have heard of is cracked ribs. This is fortunately rare, but it has happened. Usually it comes as a mix of binding way, way too tight, binding with a material that continues to shrink after you put it on (like an ACE bandage, which is why every binding safety post will tell you not to use those) or something with little or no stretch to it, like duct tape, especially if wrapped all the way around the torso with no gaps for movement. These are bad ideas, don't do those. gc2b binders have stretch and mostly don't shrink after you put them on. Although, the twill panel in the front (it doesn't go all the way around, which is good for safety) is cotton, which can shrink somewhat when wet. But this is only going to be cracking ribs if the binder you're using is way, way too small in the first place. You can swim safely in a gc2b binder if it's the right size.

    Some people have also had negative effects from various duct-tape binding techniques, like skin irritation, damaging skin when removing the tape, allergic reactions, etc. So duct tape in general is not good for binding with. If you do use tape, use KT tape, put something between the tape and your nipples (like a cotton pad), and don't wrap it all the way around your ribs.

    Additionally, some people have trouble breathing in binders, or may even develop fluid in the lungs from not breathing deeply enough. Usually the first problem is that they're wearing too tight a binder. But also, it's good to remember to take some deep breaths, blow your nose or cough from time to time to clear everything out, and take breaks from binding.

    With your age in particular, there's your developing body to consider. Like first and foremost, your ribs, they need to grow. You don't want to push them into a weird shape or anything. For this reason, don't wear super tight binders, even if you can wear them relatively comfortably, and breathe in them without pain or anything. They shouldn't be too hard to put on or take off (though sometimes it can take a little practice, folding the bottom up a few inches helps with half styles, I don't wear tanks so I can't help you there) you should be able to breathe in them, and they shouldn't leave marks on your skin. I have binders that fit me like this, and while they get me flatter than a sports bra, they actually feel more comfortable than a bra because the pressure is distributed over the chest instead of concentrated on the band area. So they actually press on the ribs LESS than a bra does.

    At a certain point, the question isn't, "Are binders super healthy," but "are they any worse than bras?" If you wear a comfortably fitting one like I described, I don't think they are any worse than a bra. A bra is also shapewear that constricts somewhat and puts pressure on your ribs. Your ribs aren't more fragile for boy underwear than they are for girl underwear.

    The reason you hear about more mishaps with binders than bras is that girls who want more feminine chests usually just put padding or breastforms in their bras, instead of cinching tighter and tighter and tighter. Anything where you go endlessly tighter is going to go wrong, which is why the people who really went nuts with corsets did have bad effects. (That just wasn't the average user, historically.)

    There's also the development of your chest itself to think of, if you either want to have breasts (valid for many nonbinary reasons) or if puberty blocking just isn't accessible to you or you don't want the risk profile or etc. Even if you plan to get top surgery down the road, having a well-shaped chest will get you better surgical outcomes. I've seen results of truly aggressive binding that resulted in stretch marks (that wasn't how I got mine, but you can always get more, right) and a lot of stretching and elongation. The worst for this is when people bind by pushing the chest tissue into the armpits, downward, or to the sides. gc2b binders are meant to simply smush the chest flat, which is the healthiest and least damaging way to do it.

    I'm not certain how binding may affect the shape of the chest as it develops, but I know some trans women bind as their breasts are developing because they're still closeted while on HRT, and while a lot of them may feel they're playing with fire there, I haven't heard any horror stories, at least? They're less likely to be vicious with it because they aren't dysphoric about having breasts and don't hate their breasts, they just aren't ready to come out quite yet.

    Another thing to consider is whether you can take a binder off quickly if you need a break from it. Because gc2b binders are pull-on, even if you're wearing a good size that's not too difficult to pull off, you'd have to take your shirt off to take the binder off, which means you'd have to do it in a bathroom or something if you're out in public. A binder that has a zipper or hooks or something you may be able to discreetly partially or fully release under your shirt if you need a little bit of a break. Be wary of the velcro ones though, I've heard of a lot of trans people hurting themselves with the velcro because it's too easy to over-tighten it.

    Especially because you're young, you really want to follow the best practices, including stuff like not wearing it more than eight hours, and giving yourself a few days a week off from binding. (You might try sports bras or other minimizing bras for when you're taking a binding break if you have trouble not binding, at least they constrict you in different spots, so it gives some parts of your chest a turn to breathe.) And most importantly, being really honest with yourself and listening to your body about whether something is too tight, causing pain, hard to breathe in, feels wrong or bad, etc. Since your entire frame is likely to grow at your age, binders you get now may be too small in a year or two. Donate those to some other trans kid in need and don't look back! Get new ones when your size changes, don't start doing the devil's arithmetic about how long you can get away with keeping a binder that's tighter than your parents realize. It's not your parents you'll be playing, but yourself.

    Another important thing to keep in mind. No binder will get you 100% flat like there's no tissue there to compress. Not even the too-tight one that hurts. Not even the one so tight it gives you health complications. It is not physically possible, which is why people hurt themselves in pursuit of an unreachable goal. It isn't even a rational goal, because cis boys have a curve and some tissue on their chests too, they don't have a flat straight line like a block of wood. Having a flat straight line like a block of wood won't make people see you as more male, because that's only maleness in Dysphoriavision.

    And realistically, unless you already pass super well AND change schools AND your teachers, who will likely get informed no matter what, don't slip up in front of others, people at school will likely know you're trans. The teachers usually end up knowing no matter what. If you're out at school, whether you get treated in a respectful and gender-affirming way mostly depends on whether people in your school feel like being douchebags or not. A super tight binder will not un-douchebag transphobes, or cause them to forget you're trans when they already knew for reasons unrelated to your chest. And if you're not out at school, a super tight binder will not cause people to psychically understand your preferred name and pronouns. Coming out is going to be its own process that's going to have to do a lot more with how people you come out to feel about trans people than about whether your chest is a few millimeters bigger or smaller. I'm saying this in case you start feeling like a binder that fits comfortably isn't good enough, and you really need a binder that fits uncomfortably. It honestly just isn't worth it, because anything that changes the shape to your chest to flat-ish accomplishes everything you need there. I'm saying all this because nearly all of the safety issues with binding are related to highly dysphoric individuals doing things they knew weren't safe when they did them. Use common sense about it and continue to check in with yourself and be truthful about how you think it's affecting you, and you should be fine.

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  • Finn

    Hey Oliver! I'm 12 years old, and I will be 13 in January. Anyways, binding isn't unsafe for a guy your age as long as it is the right size. I recommend that you always take off your binder for exercise of wear one that is one size bigger, I personally have had trouble breathing while exercising, and trust me, you do not want to experience that. 

     

     

    Finn

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