From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/well/transgender-teens-binders.html
By Amy Sohn
May 31, 2019
It used to be that when a 13-year-old wanted a binder for school, it meant a trip to Staples. For today’s tweens and teens who identify as gender-nonconforming or transgender, shopping for a binder may mean a compression undergarment worn to flatten breasts.
Made of thick spandex and nylon, binders resemble tight undershirts, creating a masculine profile. The American Academy of Pediatrics has estimated that 0.7 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds in the United States, about 150,000, identify as transgender. Dr. John Steever, assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in Manhattan, who runs its transgender health program and has evaluated over 500 patients from ages 8 to 23, said that almost 95 percent of the transmasculine teenagers in the program bind.
Binders are not classified as medical devices, but some doctors and parents have concerns about their safety. (Common-sense binding guidelines include: Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape, don’t bind at night, limit a binder to eight to 10 hours a day, don’t shower in it, don’t wear two, and don’t wear one that is too small.)
Though breast compression has been around hundreds of years — think of corsets — commercial binders, primarily sold online, have been available for about 15 years. Marli Washington, 26, a transgender man and founder of GC2B Transitional Apparel, an online binder company, wrote in an email that the company had had “at least a 200 percent growth” since 2015.
Some transgender teens say they buy binders so that they can “pass” as male or to diminish feelings of discomfort with the body known as body dysphoria. And though wearing binders is temporary, their use can be associated with later medical transition. Dr. Steever said most of his patients who use binders “then tell me the next things they want to do, like testosterone, mastectomy and maybe phalloplasty. Ninety-five percent of the people I’ve evaluated get started on cross-hormones.” (Cross-gender hormone treatment in young people may affect future fertility, but data is limited.)
For transgender or gender-nonconforming teens who cannot afford binders, which start at around $30, there are free binder programs. FTM Essentials runs an application and lottery for those age 24 and under. Point of Pride, a transgender nonprofit based in Eugene, Ore., ships binders free to people of any age who express need and has sent over 4,000 nationally and internationally.
Often, teenagers first learn about binders through YouTube videos hosted by young people. An instructional video called “Chest binding” by a Norwegian teenager named Kovu Kingsrod, who wears as many as three sports bras a day, has more than a million views.
By Lara Takenaga
June 17, 2019
A recent Times article on chest binding prompted a discussion among readers about the practice, which some transgender and gender-nonconforming people use to compress their breasts and treat body dysphoria, as well as how we covered it.
We wanted to hear more from people who have used chest binders, so we asked readers to tell us why they’ve worn them and what effect binding has had on their lives. We received more than 200 responses, mostly from teenagers and young adults.
Below is a selection of the responses, which have been edited and condensed.
If you have used chest binders, please tell us about your experience in the comments.
Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/well/transgender-teens-binders.html