Commonly Used Binding Methods

This section outlines some of the most commonly used ways of binding, including layering of shirts, sports bras, athletic compression shirts, back support devices, and chest binders!

Please note that many external resources are linked on this page, and you may want to do your own searches on the topics presented. When exploring external resources please be aware that many of the services linked to chest binding also provide education and gear related to sexual health.

  • Layering of shirts: wearing a tight fitting undershirt with looser shirts on top. This method can be used when taking a break from other binding methods or for those who don’t want to wear any binding devices. A button down shirt as the top layer can help hide the chest and hip curves if these are a concern to you. Since wearing many layers in warm weather can be uncomfortable, breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics can help.
  • Sports bras: wearing a tight fitting sports bra. Sports bras made with “lycra” material work well and are breathable. Some folks may wear multiple sports bras in layers and combine this method with the layering of shirts.
  • Athletic compression shirts: wearing compression shirts made of spandex, lycra, or other stretchy materials. These shirts can most often be found at sporting goods stores. Companies like Underarmour make compression gear for athletes. Recommended Underarmour shirts are the HeatGear compression shirts as these are designed to be very breathable and help keep you dry. Underarmour also has youth sizes if smaller sizes are needed. This method often works well for those with minimal chest tissue. Folks with larger chests may want to consider medical/binding compression wear.
  • Neoprene waist and abdominal trimmers or back support devices: neoprene is a thick, rubbery material that is inexpensive and widely available. It does not breathe well but can offer effective compression. If chafing is a problem, it is recommended to wear a moisture-wicking thin undershirt or absorbent body powder underneath the neoprene. Waist trimmers and back supports are designed to wrap around the torso. They are usually blue/red on one side and black on the other with a velcro closure. The neoprene should be wrapped tightly around the chest and fasted with the velcro closure placed along the side of the body. 
  • Chest binders/medical compression shirts: Chest binders/medical compression shirts: the most common binding method. An effective method of flattening a range of chest sizes. Medical compression shirts provide more compression than athletic compression shirts and can be purchased through a specialty supplier such as Underworks.

    There are also companies that make chest binders specifically for trans folks such as gc2b, and some local stores in Edmonton, AB may also carry chest binders such as The Quiltbag and The Tickle Trunk. If you would like to purchase a binder, TransGuys.com has a brief review of the most well-known companies used in North America.

    Binders can be expensive and if cost is a barrier, contact your local Pride Centre to see if there is a free binder exchange program near you. There are also binder exchange programs run online such as Come as You Are’s Chest Binder Recycling Program (for which the contact email is binders@gendergear.ca).

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