By Rory Blundell (he/him)
The first binder I ever owned, I stealthily bought online at 17. I wasn't out as trans and I was still exploring parts of my gender identity, so finally getting the nerve to seek out and order a binder was huge for 17 year-old me.
I snuck into my parent's room so I could see what it looked like in a full-length mirror. After (much) struggling, I finally was able to look at myself, and immediately, something felt right. Part of my body that I had always felt a sense of unease and discomfort with finally really fit me.
I slipped on one of my favourite shirts and grinned. Suddenly the shirt that had previously sat kind of funny and had sort-of-but-not-really fit around my chest was the perfect shape. This feeling was bittersweet as I still wasn't out to anyone yet and I could only wear my binder in private.
The binders I have now were given to me by one of my good trans guy friends. Miraculously he had very similar measurements to me, and they fit perfectly. They were much better quality than the one I'd sneaky bought aged 17 and far more comfortable.
Finally having binders that not only fit well but also felt great was a life-changing moment for me. I'd been out as trans for a few months but this felt like the moment I was finally taking steps toward physically expressing my gender identity. Instead of wearing them in secret, wearing binders became part of my every day life. They became an important part of how I expressed myself and made me feel more comfortable in my identity.
Of course, binding properly is more than having good quality, well-fitted binders. It means giving myself time off from wearing them when they feel too restrictive or I'm not physically up to wearing them. It can also be about what I wear, as sometimes I feel comfortable wearing clothing that reveals my binder, and other times I don't.
I was extremely lucky in how I got my binders. A lot of trans people find accessing well-made, fitted binders very difficult. Proper binders can be very expensive and often have to be ordered online from overseas.
Like when I was 17, some trans people can't buy binders because they aren't out. or others, the limited sizes that most binders come in just don't work for them. It can also be hard to find information about safe binding practices, making it even more difficult for young trans and gender diverse people to know about safe options.
This makes resources like A Guide to Binding Safely and Trans Youth Support Kits crucial. Having access to clear, accurate information lets trans young people make informed decisions about their body and expression, and makes sure they can do so safely. Trans Youth Support Kits is a program for trans young people to access free or low-cost gender affirming items (including binders!), which can make a world of difference. Through this program, one of my close friends who was binding unsafely managed to get a binder that not only felt better, but made them feel more confident in coming out to some of their family members.
Binding is more than just a method of expressing gender identity; for me, properly binding is a form of self-care. It makes me feel good in the clothes I love. It gives me a greater sense of self-esteem and more confidence in myself. Put simply, wearing a binder makes me feel more like me and make me feel far more comfortable going out into the world.
If you'd like to help even more trans/gender diverse young people access the things they need, make a donation here.