• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

A girl to a man: why I need a binder to hide my chest

Alec 'Chibi' Gray, 21, who grew up in the Glasgow area as a girl, describes another stage in his transition to becoming a man

Everyone should have bragging rights. Whether the task you've completed is minuscule or enormous, you should have the right to tell everyone if you feel proud of your achievement.

Being a person with little to no common sense, it's hard to fathom that I actually got through higher education. That's right everyone; I am now a bachelor of science!

I'm really excited about this milestone in my life; for once I actually feel like a proper adult. So to celebrate such a terrific achievement for an idiot, we decided to go to the beach.

I love it by the shore, the sea breeze blowing through your hair, the hot sand enclosing itself around your toes. I especially like the water, the salty expanse of blue disappearing into the horizon.

I'm not a person who meekly dips their toes in the shallows, no. I'm the type of person to take a running jump into the deeper waters, getting myself and everyone else absolutely soaking wet. So that's what I did, enacting a poor interpretation of a dolphin.

When the sun had disappeared behind the clouds and it was time to leave, however, the fun didn't exactly continue.

Being transgender has its difficulties, especially when you have to wear a binder. If you've never heard of a binder before, it's a piece of clothing that can be made of simple material or medical spandex which the wearer has tight to their skin, compressing their chest to look more masculine.

They come in all shapes and sizes, mostly in the shape of a vest. They can be pulled over your head, fastened with Velcro, or closed with the aid of a series of clips.

It was an hour's car ride home and I wasn't for soaking the backseat with my wet clothes and there were no changing facilities nearby.

I was the only one soaking wet so we came up with the idea of a mobile changing room and put towels across all of the windows, my friends standing guard.

It was easy enough to change quickly in the back seat of the hatchback until it came to my binder. In the small space it was hard for me to do up the clips at the side and had to get help from a friend, my face a beetroot colour as she helped to 'do me up'.

It's safe to say that I'll be bringing a simpler binder to change into next time.

My favourite binders to wear are a vest type which looks like a normal top on the outside, but has a half-chest binder attached to the inside, fastened with clips. They bind very well and are comfortable to wear under your clothes. They're hard to fasten at first, but with practice you'll become a pro.

The binders I wear are a cheaper alternative at around £10 compared to the more popular over-the-top binders on www.underworks.com. These are made of medical grade spandex and are great when brand new as they bind very well and are easy to put on. The drawback is that they will stretch out over time and can get expensive to replace.

Being a larger chested trans guy is pretty frustrating, being that I'll never have a completely flat chest until after surgery.

I've had most, if not all types of binders and the worst for my body type has to be a wraparound binder. These are made of a piece of material that wraps around your chest, fastened by clips.

The fact that it doesn't have any straps didn't help my case as the first and last time I wore one, I was on a night out at a pub. I was outside getting some fresh winter air; talking to some strangers I'd just met.

I'd gotten rather immersed in the conversation and jumped a little, the wraparound binder slipping down to my navel. It was the most embarrassing thing to happen to me on a night out and luckily the others were heading back inside at that moment, so I could quickly fix myself before I followed them inside.

As a note to bigger chested trans guys: Do not, I repeat, do not wear a binder with no straps as it will only end badly...

For further information:

LGBT Youth Scotland  is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Scotland. They hold regular Trans Youth groups for young people who identify as transgender or are gender variant.

All About Trans  is a project run by On Road,  a not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with communities to solve social problems using the web and the media. All About Trans is about encouraging better understanding between media professionals and transgender people and inspiring more accurate and sensitive representation in print, broadcast and online media in the UK.

Contextual targeting label: 
Health

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

240108