In this episode we will be talking about binding. Ill go through a bit of my own journey with this as well as a few topics around the fact that it’s ok if you don’t want to chest bind.
Now this is not something that is really spoken about very often. It almost seems expected that a person who is AFAB and exists within the gender diverse umbrella is going to want to bind.
But in reality, it is not the case. And when folks do express that binding isn’t for them, they can be shamed for this by other trans folks who do bind or have dysphoria about their chest.
Its got more to do with you and how you feel.
The truth is that every person is different and the way that feels right for them to express themselves is different too.
It seems to me that some TGD folks just don’t seem open to accepting that not every gender diverse or nonbinary person may want to look masculine or androgynous.
It’s as though a person choosing not to bind somehow challenges their own validity as a trans, transmasc, non binary or gender diverse person.
And this type of projecting is super problematic.
This is a conversation that I’ve had with a number of non binary folks now, so I thought it’d be worth having a chat with everyone about.
It’s a conversation that ought to be had more often! Here’s my 2 cents!
This topic is one that is particularly close to my own heart because I don’t bind. We spoke about it a little way back in Episode 40 about owning how you feel in your gender identity.
Early in my transition I experimented with using a binder for a while.
But whenever I used to bind, I actually found that I would get really uncomfortable with how I looked. Seeing my chest so flat made me really self conscious and awkward.
At first, I couldn’t quite place why this was. Why it felt so wrong for me to have a flat chest. So for a little while I tried to just persevere with it, thinking I’d get used to it and it’d be ok.
It took me a while to realise that it didn’t work like that. And that the reason that I didn’t feel right when I wore a binder was because it didn’t help me present the way that I wanted to.
I’ve realised that I don’t want to look like I have no chest. That looking masculine makes me just as uncomfortable as looking feminine. And that I don’t want to be perceived as a man.
Now I’m not gonna lie, this wasn’t an easy realisation to come to. I’d spent a lot of my life thinking that to not be seen as a woman, it meant that I had to look more like a man.
…but in reality, this was a really black and white way of thinking and not one that actually made me feel very happy.
I spent a long time feeling shame about my chest. Which really influenced my thinking that I needed to hide it.
It was made harder still because I spent so long without the language to express what I felt within myself about my identity and about my body.
That said, here’s how I ended up handling things.
Over the past few years, my thinking about how I express myself has really changed. And this has included how I choose to present outwardly and how that makes me feel.
Which brings me back to chest binding in general. Because once I realised that binding made me feel uncomfortable. That I actually felt ok having a chest that wasn’t quite flat, I began to feel much happier.
I’ve found that wearing a sports crop helps my chest look flatter, without taking all the shape away.
Having spoken to other non binary folks about this, I’ve found that this is something that others do too.
Because at the end of the day, the most important thing that you can do is the things that help you feel good about you.
There are no rules. And I know I’ve said that a lot, but I think it needs repeating because there are definitely a lot of stereotypes out there about what it means to be non binary and how a non binary person should look.
Things really aren’t that black and white.
I am a non binary person that feels good about having a chest that has some shape to it. I feel good about how my chest looks when I’m topless. And I don’t think this is a narrative that is spoken about enough.
My experience with my body does not take away from the folks who do have dysphoria about their bodies. All of our experiences are individual and valid.
And if you are a gender diverse or non binary person that also feels good about their body as it is, please know that this is totally ok! It’s amazing and you are 100% valid within your identity.
So I handled it that way but you might need to do it differently and that’s perfectly fine!
Chest bind or not, it’s all your own journey so explore and find your own way!
I think that trying different transition options out is really valuable in helping you find what does and doesn’t feel right for you.
But just because you try something out doesn’t mean that you have to stick with it.
You may still be in the process of finding what works for you and that’s ok. There’s no rush, as much as it may feel at times like you wanna be at that end point in your self discovery already, it just doesn’t work like that.
But know that you’ll figure out what works for you. The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself. Even if it’s not what you expected to feel about something.
I know for myself, I never would have believed that I would ever feel good about my chest or that I’d want to have some shape to it.
If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have told you I was getting top surgery for sure. But now I know that for me, chest binding is not something that would make me feel more myself or present in a way that would make me happy.
And it’s taken years to reach that point. So I encourage you if you’re feeling uncertain or stuck to just take your time in exploring what really works. Do your best to ignore those stereotypes.
We’ve touched on a lot today.
Firstly we had a bit of a chat about how you don’t need to chest bind and that it’s not a prerequisite to being non binary or gender diverse.
After that, we looked at some other things that you can try, like wearing sports crops, if you find that a binder just isn’t your jam.
And lastly we looked at how important it is to take your time and find what really works for you. And as much as you can avoid trying to fulfil a stereotype of what you think you need to be, instead just be you however that feels right for you.
Until next week week remember, you don’t need to feel dysphoria to be valid in your identity. You don’t need to fulfil a stereotype either. The most important thing that you can do is listen to your body and your feelings when they tell you what’s feeling right for you.
Have a rad as day pals.
What did you think of this podcast episode?