Someone asked me about binders the other day. How do they work, why would I wear them or not, etc. Binders are a tricky thing but lets start with the why.
Why does an FtM wear a binder? Well, obviously to hide his boobs. Why? Because they are feminine. So? He does not want to be feminized. And yes, that really does matter. I might be stating the obvious here but as soon as people spot boobs they will treat you as a woman with the according expectation patterns and all. It is easier to pass as a man when you were born female but there are always traces and when people are not sure, they check your chest. And if there is a hint of bosom there they will assume you're a dyke. You might say that's not true but lets be honest. Even I do it. Horrible, I know, but it's just the way we are wired. This is the main reason why I dislike my boobs. People see them, even when they don't stare at them, and treat me different from how I want to be treated. This is highly frustrating and a good reason to hide them. Don't get me wrong, I love boobs. Just like high heels. They are great assets on a woman. I'm just not a woman.
Now, how does a binder work? Really simple. It's just a really tight top. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors even. They just squish your boobs. Like an extra heavy sports bra. That's all.
So what's the problem? Why don't I just wear one all the time?
For one, here in the Netherlands they don't come cheap and I simply can't afford to have a whole bunch. And no, health insurance can not be bothered with stuff like that.
Second, they are not that comfortable. They are really tight, which is the whole point of course, but that makes you less mobile. They tend to cut under your arms so I never wear then too many days in a row so the skin doesn't get too irritated. They're really warm and in summer most days I just can't be bothered cause I'll be sweating like crazy in them. Not sexy.
And third, they put a lot of pressure on your breast tissue. Well of course. So? As far as I can tell there haven't been any proper studies on FtM's and breast cancer but there have been studies on what happens to tissue under pressure. They indicate that cancer tissue under pressure spreads more quickly. I've been trying to find the link but so far I haven't been able to find it again. From what I have hear from other transmen who have had chest surgery it is not uncommon for some of the breast tissue to have become cancerous. This could be partially triggered by wearing binders but also by hormone treatment. Of course, there are no statistics on this but it seems transmen are at a higher risk for breast cancer then regular women if they haven't had chest surgery. This would suggest it would be wise to do the chest surgery as soon as possible. How ever, in the Netherlands there is a real life phase people have to go through before they can have surgery. This means living like their 'chosen' gender instead of their biological gender for a period of time. For women this is 12 months, for men 18 months. That's what the website says. I'm not sure if they mean biological men and women or trans men and women. But it would mean that I would have to be on hormones and living as a man, including binder, for at least 12 months before I can have surgery, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Lovely. I'm not happy about that but that is the way it is right now.