Binding changed my whole world. Honestly, next, to chopping all my hair off nothing has been more gender-affirming for me than that first moment I put a chest binder on, pulled my favorite t-shirt over my head, and realized how much different it look. The shirt hung in all the right ways. As a gender non-conforming person moments of gender euphoria are sometimes hard to come by but this moment, this is one I’ll remember.
As a gender non-conforming person who wears a binder more often than not, I understand the importance of finding the best chest binder that provides both comfort and gender affirmation. Binding can be a significant part of our gender expression journey, allowing us to feel more aligned with our true selves. For some binding is a step in the journey to top surgery while others might bind in specific outfits or for specific occasions. The reasons, ways, and styles we choose to bind are as unique as our community. However, it’s no secret that not all binders are created equal. The path to finding one that fits right, doesn’t rub, provides the right amount of compression, and doesn’t show under your favorite shirt can be, well exhausting. That’s why I’m here to share my personal insights and experiences, guiding you through the world of chest binders from the perspective of someone who wears them almost daily.
In this article, I’ll offer an overview of some of the top chest binders on the market, sharing my own experiences and preferences. From swim specific to fully customized ones, I’ve got you covered.
Additionally, we’re going to talk about binding safely. I’m sharing a whole bunch of tips about binding safely in hot weather, tips and tricks for binding with tape as well as my tips for binding while traveling.
Let’s jump in and explore the options and companies doing the work for our community.
It is important to note that binders are essential tools for gender identity. In many instances, binders are life-saving tools for many people who do not have access to gender-affirming health care. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Are chest binders safe?”
First and foremost, choose the right size binder that provides proper compression without causing discomfort or constriction. It’s super important to follow sizing charts and the guidelines provided by manufacturers to ensure what you purchase will fit. It’s essential to remember to take regular breaks from wearing your binder, as extended periods of compression can impact circulation and overall well-being. Aim for at least 8 hours of binder-free time each day to allow your body to rest and recover.
Listening to your body is very important when it comes to binding safely. Pay close attention to any signs of discomfort, pain, or difficulty breathing. If you experience these symptoms, remove the binder immediately. Binding should never cause severe pain or restrict your ability to live comfortably. It’s crucial to avoid unsafe practices, such as using improvised binders like ACE bandages or duct tape. These methods can lead to serious health risks, including restricted breathing, bruising, and damage to your ribs and organs. Instead, invest in a properly designed and manufactured chest binder to ensure your safety and well-being. We’ve included budget-friendly and easily accessible options on this list.
In addition, it’s important to establish good hygiene practices for your binder. Keep it clean and wash it regularly. This helps maintain its elasticity and reduces the risk of skin irritation or infections. Pro tip: buying more than one is the key to keeping them clean. When I only had one I found myself avoiding washing it because I never wanted to risk it being in the washer when I needed it. One of the most common irritants with binders is chaffing, specifically under the arms. Remember to remove your binder before sleeping or working out. I know it can be challenging but check in with yourself and have a plan for days your body just needs a break from binding.
How to Bind Without a Binder
When it comes to binding without a binder, there are alternative methods you can explore. Layering clothing strategically can help minimize the appearance of the chest. Consider wearing a compression sports bra or a tight-fitting tank top underneath your clothing to provide some flattening effect. Another option is using compression shirts or shaping undergarments designed for flattening the chest. KT Tape, which can be found in most drug stores or sporting goods stores, is another alternative worth considering. KT Tape can be used to create a makeshift binder by applying it in a specific pattern to provide some compression. However, it’s important to note that using an ACE bandage is not a safe alternative, as it can cause serious health risks and restrict breathing. It’s crucial to prioritize your safety and comfort, and if you have any concerns or questions, consult with a healthcare professional or reach out to your queer siblings. Hi, you can always find me @lindscale.
Chest Binding Tape
In the realm of gender-affirming options, chest binding tape, also known as KT Tape or Trans Tape, has gained popularity as an alternative method for individuals seeking to flatten their chests. Available in most drug stores or sporting goods stores, binding tape offers a way to securely tape down the chest area, creating a flatter appearance.
Using chest binding tape requires careful attention to safety. It is crucial to start with clean, dry skin to ensure optimal adhesion and minimize the risk of irritation. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is essential, as each brand may have specific guidelines for application and removal. When applying the tape, it’s important to use a safe taping pattern that provides sufficient compression while avoiding sensitive areas like the nipples, ribs, or armpits. Finding the right balance between compression and comfort is the key binding but especially key when binding with tape.
Listening to your body is vital throughout the process. If you experience any discomfort or pain while applying or wearing the tape, remove it immediately and explore other binding methods. Additionally, it’s essential to give your body regular breaks from tape binding, allowing the skin to breathe and recover to prevent irritation or damage. When removing the tape, do so slowly and gently to avoid skin irritation or injury. Prioritize skin health by cleansing the skin gently after tape removal and applying soothing moisturizers or aloe to mitigate redness or irritation.
How to Bind With Tape
Trans Tape has by far the most informative content on how to tape safely. I’m still struggling to perfect the tape so until I can call myself an expert I’ll point you to the pros. This page has all the details.
The YouTube videos on the TransTape channel are awesome and super informative on specific details. Make sure to check out the details on how to remove the tape. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not just rip it off! trust me I learned the hard way. You can search “trans tape tutorial” on TikTok to find people of all different chest and body sizes showing their specific process for application.
Chest Binder Brands
We’re starting things off with a bang, in terms of comfort. For Them is a bit newer but super reputable binder company known for its commitment to creating comfortable and functional binders for trans and non-binary individuals. Their binders are made with breathable and stretchable materials like nylon and spandex, providing effective compression while allowing for ease of movement. With an emphasis on inclusive sizing, For Them offers a wide range of sizes to cater to different body types.
They also recently launched a new product Binder Max focusing on more compression and more coverage. Apparently, the comfort level is comparable to The Binder, I’m hoping to get my hands on one to confirm.
Top Product: The Binder
Price: $52 ($36 for Members)
gc2b is a Black and Latinx trans-owned and operated company known for its accessible and affordable gc2b binders. What I love most about gc2b is the options, they offer tons of different styles and colors. While some people feel best in something skin-toned others love the bold colors and patterns. I appreciate that we can find both in one place here. gc2b has become a trusted brand among transgender and non-binary individuals seeking comfortable and reliable binders.
They are also doing amazing things globally through their philanthropic program at 2b.care with over 35,000 binders being donated across 18 different countries.
Top Product: gc2b Classic Tank Binder
Underworks has been serving the community for years with its range of compression garments, including binders. Many of their products are made for cis male bodies so I find the fit is not always great for me. However, they are a really great budget option. This was my very first binder and i wore it for literal years.
Top Underworks Binder: Tri Top Chest Binder
FLAVNT Streetwear is an Austin-based company that prides itself on being a brand by queer people, for queer people. Owned by Courtney and Chris Rhodes, two amazing queers that I’ve been following on social for years. FLAVNT Streetwear offers nude binders in a variety of skin tones.
Top Product: FLAVNT Compression Crop Top
Shapeshifters, founded by Saki and Daniel Eustice, stand out with their unique and personalized binders. They offer custom-made binders with fabric options that include polyester, spandex, and nylon. If you’re looking for binders that provide a smooth appearance under shirts this is one of the best.
Top Product: Shapeshifters Bespoke Binder
Price: Varies depending on customization options
Chase Ross and Aaron Ansuini co-founded Spectrum Outfitters, a UK-based company that prioritizes inclusivity. Their binders are made from a combination of nylon, spandex, and cotton. Remember, when traveling to a different climate, consider the potential discomfort of binding in hot or humid conditions and opt for lighter, breathable binders.
Top Product: Dark Short Chest Binder
Origami Customs, founded by Robin K., focuses on inclusive and customizable binders. Their options include zipper closures and front-opening designs. If you’re planning a trip, make sure to pack an adequate number of binders to allow for rotation and cleaning.
Top Product: Origami Customs Custom Binder
Price: Varies depending on customization options
Urbody Co offers gender-affirming chest binders for ftm, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary folks. Their top product, the Urbody Chest Binder, is crafted with a luxe soft poly/spandex blend that doesn’t feel scratchy. The binder also has a high full coverage neckline and is stretchy and breathable enough to work out in.
The health-conscious level of compression makes this an excellent choice for a first binder.
Top Product: Half Tank Compression Top
T-Kingdom is a Taiwanese company specializing in gender-affirming products, including its range of chest binders. Their top-quality products, such as the Model 997 Chest Binder, are designed with attention to detail and constructed using durable and breathable materials. T-Kingdom offers a variety of sizes to accommodate different body types.
These binders do use velcro which comes with a set of issues related to manual compression but are a good option for people with accessibility concerns.
Top Product: Model-1300 Elasticity Strong Breast Binder
While the first thing that comes to mind when RodeoH is mentioned is probably gender-affirming underwear and harnesses (see our full harness review here) but they also offer binders and binding tape. This binder offers medium-level compression. I’d think of it more as a minimizer than a binder. However, Rodeoh is a trusted name in the community and has continuously made high-quality gender-affirming products I wouldn’t be surprised if they built out this binder line in coming years.
Top Product: Compression Top
TomboyX is arguably the most wildly recognized brand in the gender neutral clothing space so it comes as no surprise that they have a great chest binder option available. However, they are intentionally doing things differently, with their affectionately named kinder-binder. This binder offers more of a minimizing effect while being super gentle on your skin and muscles. My favorite product in the line is the Racerback Compression Top because it cuts down on chafing. I would compare this style to a really snug sports bra on your chest without the band digging into you.
While this is not my go binder for a night out or an event I want to feel my best it is an AMAZING option for travel days. I feel confident in the way i look but don’t feel any of the negative effects that often come with binding for long periods of time.
Also, TomboyX is the most size-inclusive binder option (not including custom) with sizes ranging from 3XS to 6XL.
Top TomboyX Binder: Compression Top
New York Toy Collective
New York Toy Collective is primarily known for creating gender-affirming sex toys and accessories but also offers its own binders. They offer short and long options and have a comprehensive size chart.
Top Product: Binder
Transguy Supply is a reputable brand offering gender-affirming products for transgender men and masculine individuals. They provide a wide range of items, including binders, packers, STP devices, clothing, and accessories. Their top product, the Tri-Top Binder, is known for its comfortable compression and ability to create a flatter chest silhouette.
Top Product: Tri-Top Binder
Already one of our favorite queer and lesbian swimwear brands, and one of the best swimming binders, Outplay also is bringing us a great compression top. Their newest product is the Roraima Compression Top. It is a compression top made from lightweight stretchable materials rather than a traditional binder so it can be worn all day.
Top Product: Roraima Compression Top
I thought hard before adding XUJI to this list because almost all of their products feature manual compression from clasps and zippers. However, I ultimately decided to include it because it can be purchased both at Walmart and on Amazon. While these binding methods are far from perfect they are far better than DIY measures. I understand how important access to gender-affirming garments is and I know most people have access to these stores.
My favorite of the XUJI binders is the XUJI Women Transgender FTM Breathable Half Chest Binder and at $20 it’s a great budget option.