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Groundbreaking study shows health effects of binding among trans people

Joseph McCormick February 7, 2017
binder exchange program.

The sex shop in Ontario, Canada, offers a binder exchange program.

A groundbreaking study has looked at the health benefits and risks of binding among trans people.

The study, believed to be the first to look a the effects of binding on trans people, was released by the Binding Health Project at Boston University.

1,800 people were asked about how they bind and the effects it has on their health.

Chest binding is usually practiced by trans men and non-binary people to flatten their chest.

Commercial chest binders are available but many also use bandages, cling film, duct tape and sports bras.

Many in the study said that binding was a “daily occurrence”, for an average of ten hours.

More than 97 percent of respondents said they had experience one or more negative health effect from binding.

The effects included pain, overheating and shortness of breath.

Fifty people said they were subjected to fractured ribs as a result of their binding.

Unusually, commercial binders were the most commonly associated with the negative effects, and those using them on the whole reported experiencing 20 out of 28 listed health effects.

Other materials, according to the study, proved less harmful to the health of the binder than the commercial binders, with just 13 out of the 28 negative health effects listed by people using these.

Sarah Peitzmeier, a researcher, was surprised to find the results about commercial binders.

She said that they are usually the safest as they are specially designed, and that the injuries or other negative health impacts could be down to them being used incorrectly “for example layering multiple binders on top of each other or using a binder that is a size too small for greater compression.”

Many said they did not seek advice from a health professional despite being in pain.

“My impression is awareness of binding is relatively low in the medical community,” added Peitzmeier.

“Even medical professionals who know about binding aren’t really sure how to assess it clinically, what the potential health impact of binding could be, and what safer binding practices they should recommend to patients.”

From those asked in the study, many said they would keep binding despite negative health risks, given the relief it gives them from their gender dysphoria.

Those conducting the study recommended taking “off days” from binding if possible, and to use extra caution when using commercial binders that the correct size and fit is used.

They recommended not using cling film or duct tape for binding.

The study was conducted by the Binding Health Project in order to empower trans people and their medical professionals, by educating about how to bind safely.

“We want medical professionals to support people who bind in making decisions to maximise their physical and mental health,” continues Peitzmeier.

More: binding, nonbinary, Trans, Transgender

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