Breasts, boobs, ta-tas, melons, etc., etc., etc. What’s a genderqueer/non-binary AFAB (assigned female at birth) to do with them?? Of course, the true answer is – whatever you want! But let’s drill down a bit…
First, some definitions:
- Binding – “… binding is the act of flattening breasts by the use of constrictive materials.” (Wikipedia)
- Dysphoria – “… the distress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth.” (Wikipedia)
- Top Surgery – “… any procedure designed to remove breast tissue and masculinize the chest of a transman or non-binary transmasculine person.” (Gender Confirmation Center in San Francisco)
- For a ton more fantastic info, check out Chest Binding 101 from the Trans Guys website
There are loads of non-binary AFABs with boobs who love them. For others, having breasts is a source of emotional pain and dysphoria, and they choose to have top surgery. Personally, I have mixed feelings about my breasts. Sometimes I love ‘em! Sometimes, it’d be nice if they were detachable (remember that song “Detachable Penis”? Ahhh, the early 90s). In the summer, there’s the hot and sweaty component (especially when wearing a bra). And sometimes, I’d just prefer a flatter, more masculine silhouette.
For people like me, who don’t want top surgery but would like to minimize the look of their chest from time to time, there are a few options. Unfortunately, many of them involve the aforementioned hot and sweaty uncomfortableness.
A thing that’s NOT an option: using an ace bandage or duct tape to bind your chest. This is super dangerous….”Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape—they aren’t meant for binding, [they] don’t move with your body, and can cause physical harm. They can seriously restrict breathing, cause fluid build-up in your lungs and other serious injuries, such as broken ribs.” (credit to Chest Binding 101 on the Trans Guys website)
Breast tissue density and breast size variations are major factors impacting how much you can flatten your chest. A common (and easy) option for folks with smaller chests is to wear a snug sports bra. For those of us with larger chests, wearing a “binder” is the way to go. Binders are made from sturdy, tight material (usually with a bit of stretch in them so you can get them on, but the stretchy part is not across the front so as to maximize the flattening).
Personally, I wear sports bras most days. I adore the Champion Women’s Spot Comfort Full-Support Sport Bra. They are comfy and hold up really well. Seriously, I toss them in the laundry with everything else (including in hot water, with bleach now and then) and have had a couple of them for at least 4 years.
I also own a T-Kingdom 610 binder, which I like because it closes with velcro at the side, so you can adjust the tightness (and loosen it up during the day if you’re feeling restricted). Though, the edges of the velcro sections curl up a bit and can be quite scratchy – I really need to see if I can make some adjustments to this.
And, I’ve got a gc2b Half Binder that I like a lot. I purposefully bought a size that wouldn’t be SUPER binding. A will also sometimes wear my Dapper Boi compression swim top as a bra/binder – so comfy!
Because of my tissue density (seriously, it’s a thing – as mentioned by the tech each time I get a mammogram) and size, I don’t get that flat, and I get the elevated uni-boob blob thing happening (a quick adjustment – aiming each boob up and out – fixes that, but it’s a multiple times a day thing).
There are TONS of fantastic articles and YouTube videos out there about binding, along with oodles of reviews of binders. If you’re interested in getting a flatter look, I encourage you to do some Googling and some YouTubing. You may need to search a bit harder for body types and gender identities that match yours, as MTF (male-to-female) trans guys are the most commonly represented identities out there talking about binding (at least in my experiences).
On the topic of top surgery for non-binary folks, I highly recommend Ash Hardell and Jay Jackson’s videos, and I just discovered Raphael The Pizza Quing, who is also super-duper. Their videos are smart, funny, and honest:
- Ash Hardell, YouTuber extraordinaire (seriously, check out their channel) documented their top surgery – start here: Top Surgery Chronicles Episode 1
- Jay Jackson (photographer, YouTuber, and charming Brit) has several videos on their surgery – starting with “Top Surgery – Non-binary – No nipples? T?”
- Raphael The Pizza Quing – (Pizza Quing?! Is that a great name or what?! Perfection!) “Top Surgery Talk (Nonbinary + No Nipples)”
So… What do you all think? Binding? Top Surgery? Boobs? Tell me your thoughts!
Trans Guys Chest Binding 101 – Super comprehensive information about binding. What to do, how to do it, how to choose a binder, how to buy a used binder, how to put one on, tips, etc.
The Art Of Transliness – A Tumblr-based blog with SO much great information and support, including stuff on binding.