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.