10 Reasons that Chest Binding Sucks Balls

Written by the butchelor

Topics: Lists

Happy Friday internet!

So, it’s a rainy, gloomy (and COLD!) one here in Texas, and I really, really didn’t want to crawl out of my amazingly dark (and WARM) and comfortable bed/room this morning.

With the start of each new day also begins a day of ongoing pain and discomfort. I’ve been binding my chest for almost three years, and while the results are definitely less than ideal, I keep doing it because it’s really my only option at this point.

For you non-trans folks – and even small-chested guys out there (lucky bastards) – binding is fairly a common practice among transmen and even for some of the more butch-identified lesbians.

From Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide:

The term “binding” refers to the process of flattening one’s breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest. The type of materials and methods used for successful binding will vary depending on the size of a guy’s chest and the overall build of his body.

Some guys don’t bind at all. Some slump or hunch over to hide their chests (which can be very effective, but can also cause posture problems over time). Some use different methods of layering clothing to help hide their chests. Some bind only on certain occasions; some bind all the time. For those who do choose to bind, a number of binding methods and tips are described below, along with contact information for custom-made binding products.

Keep in mind that other trans men are great resources when it comes to sharing binding tips and tricks. They may also be able to guide you to used binder exchange programs–many guys who have chest surgery often pass on their old binders to others at minimal or no cost

Personally, I use the double front compression binder from Underworks, and get pretty decent results. Unfortunately, I’m pretty large-chested, and it’s hard to get everything 100% flat, so I’ve also learned to compensate with my clothing style.

I’ve tried wearing two binders, but that was doubly (or quadruply, rather) painful – and didn’t provide much additional compression. Ultimately,  I decided to sacrifice flatness for comfort and have settled on a compromise that works for me at the moment – especially since I’m pre-T and don’t yet pass as male.

If I need, want or decide that I (or my dysphoria) need(s) a day of added compression – I’ll just use a large Ace Bandage on top of my binder.

**you can find more of my binding tips here**

Ok! Now that we’re all caught-up and on the same page regarding my personal binding story – on to the list!

1. It’s painful. Dude, in case you haven’t quite gotten the gist – squishing your chesticles down and out and under your armpits HURTS. I mean, first of all, you’re trying to make a body part, like, disappear. Secondly, the accessories that we use to do the squishing are tight and hard and itchy and hot and ohmyGAWDdidImentionTIGHT?! Which brings me to…

2. It’s annoying. The first thing I do when I get home from work is rip that frackin’ thing off. I’m usually SO ready to get home and un-bind that I hate to even go anywhere immediately after work. But… obviously, I want to have a social life, so I do… but honestly, it really does suck to wear a binder for 15+ hours.

3. It’s hot. Texas summers are miserable for almost everyone, anyway. It’s hot. Like, REALLY hot. So, when you add to that, a scratchy, double-layer of spandex-y stiffness right next to your skin** – it can certainly make for super-sweaty and gross errands during the day. Luckily, I have several – so I’ll usually change (which is another issue in-and-of itself. More on that later…) AND I try to use a little deoderant and or baby powder/Gold Bond underneath the chesticles if I know I’m gonna be out and about… TMI? Maybe. But whatever. It is what it is.

4. They cause skin irritation. See how messy this binding business is?! All that summer-time, binder-induced, sweat can definitely take a toll on your skin. **Many guys use an undershirt UNDER the binder, but personally I have issues with feeling bunched and twisted under that tight-layer, so I just deal with it. Just be sure to keep an eye on it – unfortunately, we don’t always have a choice regarding those 15+ hour days.

5. You have to be a contortionist to get in and out of the thing. Once my binder is off in the evening, I have to either really, REALLY like you or be incredible hungry, thirsty or interested in doing whatever it is that’s going to require me to wrestle back into that damn thing. In order to get any respectable amount of squishage, it HAS to be tight. And since it’s so tight, it’s nearly impossible to put on. I remember when I received my first binder – I anxiously and excitedly ripped open the UPS package and pulled out the tiny, sleeveless child-shirt. I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud. I had NO idea where to begin… After a couple of minutes of deliberation and self-pep-talk; I threw it over my head and put my arms through the armholes… and immediately realized I was stuck. REALLY stuck. Arms in the air. Unable to reach ANYTHING – waving and stretching; desperately trying to grab onto SOMETHING. Anything. After 30 seconds or so, the panic sets in and you’re absolutely convinced that your family will find your lifeless body, knotted and twisted. Trapped in a baby spandex tank-top… Eventually, I slowed my breathing and calmed-down and managed to work it down far enough to release my arms and ease the claustrophobia. It definitely took some experimentation with arms-first/head-first and even stepping through the neck and trying to pull it up from the bottom – to get the hang of a method that worked FOR ME. Some guys use powder (which works well, but makes a mess) and the binders themselves – do eventually stretch out and become easier to put on (of course, once they become easy to get on, you know they’ve also lost some of their binding power!). One other little tip… if you shower in the morning, you ABSOLUTELY have to be completely dry before attempting to maneuver into that bad-boy. ANY amount of moisture (from the shower or from sweating) and you’ll find yourself prisoner in the spandex monster once again.

6. They roll up. Gah! I feel like I’m constantly having to pull it down. Like I mentioned earlier, I wear the double-front compression version, and it’s a full tank-top-style shirt, so it comes all the way down to the top of my pants. Once I’m sitting or standing (and STAY that way) it’s usually fine – unless I bend over or move around a lot.Wearing a belt helps keep it in place if you keep it pulled down past your belt loops in the back. Some guys actually tuck it into their pants, but that doesn’t work very well for me.

7. You can’t STOP binding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me, after hearing the hesitation in my voice about getting out again  after I’m home and un-bound… “Don’t worry about it! Just throw on a bra.” YEEEEEK! Um… First of all… No. Secondly, I don’t even own a bra anymore and lastly, no. Most of the time, people who throw out this “option” just don’t get it, and I know they’re just trying to look out for my general comfort. Unfortunately, dysphoria doesn’t care much about physical comfort, and the DISCOMFORT that I feel regarding my body without a binder is FAR worse than the discomfort of the binding process, itself.

8. Chesticle cleavage. It sucks and it totally defeats the purpose, but I haven’t yet found an effective way to prevent it.

9. It’s hard to breathe. I mean… “duh” right?

10. Binding means I still have boobs. Ain’t that a bitch? *sigh* I hate binding. Abso-freakin-lutely HATE it… but I hate my chest even more.  Day-in and day-out I’m faced with the fact that binding is an essential part of my existence. And everyday it pisses me off more and more that this is something that I just have to deal with… The very item that helps me cope with those never-ending waves of body dysphoria is also the one constant reminder that I don’t look the way I should.

28 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Firebolt says:

    I swear I could’ve written this exact blog post.

  2. Allie says:

    I’m going through the same frustration as you. I also use Underworks binders for now but I’m seriously considering surgery to remove, as you say, these “chesticles”. I can’t afford it now, maybe in a year, and I’ll have to do it in a place like Thailand where it’s a lot cheaper. Have you considered something like this? What are your fears about this? I fear a lot but I really, really hate these fat covered lobules hanging stupidly off my chest. Thanks for your article here!

  3. Juliann says:

    Hey Butchelor,
    Love the handle! I just happened on this site looking for SUMMER binding solutions. While we are on opposite journeys we both need binding i am pre-transition m2f and binding to hide my B+. I have tried many things for summer but here in NC if with heat and humidity if you can’t stay cool while bound you may get heat stroke!. I can personally relate to all your points above. Roll up is the worst!! But, having used underworks in the past (not bad) I am now using the “high compression” sports bra (no cups) from Title Nine which have worked best for me.. and I think for some of the guys..who are not beyond C. Hope this helps! Juiliann

  4. littleB says:

    “small-chested guys out there (lucky bastards) –”
    I just wanted to say that as a small chested guy I still get the same dissapointing result. I also experience much pain and discomfort wearing a binder (I find it especially hard on my back)

    • My perspective around binding shifted and changed a bit since I initially wrote this.. I certainly think we all struggle with similar challenges, regardless of our individual bodies. <3

  5. Matthieu says:

    Hey while I was reading, you mentioned that you wear sometimes a binder, AND an ace bandage. I just wanted to inform you that this is extremely unhealthy, and can result in as much as breathing problems and broken ribs! Ace bandages were made to reduce swelling, as they are for large wounds. So every time you breath your chest expands, and the bandage reacts by getting tighter. I would strongly recommend that you DO NOT ever wear ace bandages for binding.

    • This is really good advice, and I appreciate your concern around my (old) binding habits… I will probably do an update on this article to encourage safer, more responsible binding habits, as my perspective has definitely changed since I initially wrote this.

  6. Yeah ok says:

    Some of the things said on this post or article is are very unsafe practices and could really hurt your chest and lungs. Like for example, you said sometimes you bind with an ace bandage if your binder is not enough but that’s probably the worst thing you could do, because ace banages do not stretch and therefore just squish your ribcage and restrict your breathing and could, in a worst case scenario, rib apart the skin on your chest. Also if it’s so painful that you barely want to put it on at all says a lot about how it’s probably not the best binder in the world. Some discomfort is expected, because like you said were practically trying to make a body part disappear, but if your in pain even after taking off the binder that could mean you may have done some damage to your lungs. And this goes hand in hand with the hard to breathe part of your post/article. It also goes with the tip that you shouldn’t bind for more than 8 hours a day, and that’s the absolute max, because of the things that could happen after long times of squishing. Sorry if this came off as rude or whatever but I am just worried about any ftm people binding and potentially fricking up their lungs and ribcage.

    • This is really good advice, and I appreciate your concern around my (old) binding habits… I intend do an update on this article to encourage safer, more responsible binding habits, as my perspective has definitely changed since I initially wrote this.

    • Oscar says:

      Sorry but binding is necessary for some people. In my case the disphoria I get from my chest is far more dangerous to me than wearing a binder, I don’t care if I sneeze and my entire chest collapses, these things save my life more than endangering it. It’s not coming off until I get my surgery, and I mean literally the day I get my surgery, the surgeon can ‘recommend’ taking it off all he wants, their job is removing the problem. This post actually really helps me because I know I’m not alone in this, there’s tons of guys that feel the same, and it’s not place for you to judge, we’re fully aware it’s dangerous, we’re also fully aware of why we do it. I have a massive chest and I honestly wouldn’t have got here without it, I’m dismissed by doctors because of my age (17 for fucks sake, apparently a few months makes me able to make adult decisions) and their lack of understanding in some cases, an not having as big of a chest helps me cope at least to the point where I’m okish. But surgery is so far off for some guys, sometimes not even possible, so let us wear binders in peace, it’s not safe we know, but it helps in a world that still can’t cope with it not being the victims fault if they get raped, never mind to people of the same sex kissing or someone changing their sex all together. But we’re here and we’re doing our best to be happy.

      • Mal says:

        I get that. Boy, do I get that. But it really isn’t worth compromising your safety. Instead you could try different companies and find the binder that has both compression and comfort that won’t hurt your body. If you want a recommendation, I buy mine from GC2B. The compression is amazing and the binder is barely noticeable. (They’re also not too expensive – $36 is the most costly they get.) It’s still not healthy to bind more than eight hours, but if I’m having days where my dysphoria hits me like a truck, my binder is comfortable enough that I can handle it easily. Sorry to lecture on, but please, stay safe. Find what works best for you and stick with it, even if it means trying out a lot of different options.

  7. Yeah ok says:

    I also understand that good binders are quite expensive so if you can’t or don’t want to buy a really expensive one buy a cheap one but please just do not bind with ace bandages

  8. BootlessBear says:

    I got my binder from GC2B and it works very well with almost no pain, isn’t irritating, and doesn’t leave marks. It is also not crazy hard to get on and off. I super highly recommend them. I have a white one that is basically like a tank top and I just tuck it into my pants to keep it from rolling up.

  9. TransToaster says:

    Hi, I just got my Binder from T-Kingdom, I got a size large (my chest isnt that big btw) and I just put it on. I wore it for only an hour or less and my chest started hurting really bad and the pain is staying. Should I stop wearing it?

    • Hey there, I’m so sorry to just now be seeing your comment. I haven’t updated this site in quite awhile (but I’m considering a revival).

      Anyway! If you’re experiencing physical pain or discomfort due to your binder, then I would highly recommend that you discontinue use and experiment with a different solution!

      • TransToaster says:

        Hey! I’m not sure how to see dates on here so I’m also not sure how long ago you replied. The binder I got I no longer wear and that was the first day I’ve ever worn one. I’m now a bit more comfortable with my Underworks binder. I gotta thank you for replying anyways. I also think that an update would be great! To share your views about binding if they’ve changed would be awesome for newcomers. I got a lot of help out of this site.

  10. Feliks says:

    Dude it seems your binder is way too tight if it’s painful and you can’t breathe. My current one is comfy, actually TOO comfy so I’m planning to make it tighter somehow, with sewing maybe. It binds, but not completely (let’s say I have a slight bulge on the top), yet fully enough to pass. Well it depends I guess, my boobs are pretty damn small fortunately. Still better than feeling your tits though, man.

  11. Teagan says:

    Okay, so i never really comment on things like this but im a teenager (18) obviously going into adult hood i have full time work and everyday is the same routine of gettin out of the shower and squeezin on 2 sports bras. I obviously do the one front one backwards trick and it works well for me. Im awaiting for my new tank binder soon yay! And my dream wish since i was like 12 has aslways been reducing my boobs. Idc what size i juat want em tiny. But i relate to this so much omg reading it makes me face palm and giggle at how silly it makes me look haha. But us binder girls/guys need to keep together haha. And boo to the ppl who believe that we can just ‘chuck on a bra’ are they crazy XD

  12. Eamon says:

    Great article! As a small chested guy, you’d think it’d be easy, but nah. I once had a binder from gc2b that was kinda small and tight, but gc2b is good and underworks is good and leslove boat is a really good place to get binders. I currently have a crappy binder from amazon that doesn’t work at all, but I hope to get a better binder soon. If your binder causes you pain, take it off right away. You can cause serious rib damage and stuff. It’s really not good.

    • Thanks for sharing those resources for binders. (Thankfully!) it’s been awhile since I’ve had to buy one 🙂 I agree that NO binder is much healthier than a too-tight binder, for sure!

  13. Xiao says:

    omg! same! It really sucks..

  14. Veronica says:

    Has anyone binded implants with success? I’m thinking about getting D cup implants and I can’t come out to my family

  15. Alex says:

    Not sure how similar tucking is, but I can definitely emphazise, especially since my waredrobe contains no pants other than skinny jeans.

  16. Jaden says:

    Ok but when I first got my binder (gc2b, fyi) I experienced the same situation… I got stuck and started having a panic attack. I had to google how to to put it on properly once I finally managed to get it off. And the shower thing… ugh it’s awful. I tend to just shower at night now so I don’t have to deal with getting stuck.

    I would 100% recommend gc2b binders though. I have a larger chest, and obviously it’s not a miracle, but it actually works surprisingly well.

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  1. The Butchelor » You Tell Me: Gym + Binders = Suck
  2. The Butchelor » FYI: Binding Tips
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