.. or is it?
Let me tell you something about being a preop trans man in the summer: It’s pretty terrible.
Binding is without a doubt the worst part of my everyday life in regard to my transition. I deal with the general weirdness of second puberty while working an adult job full time and also making sure my very real responsibilities are taken care of. I deal with acne, mood swings, lack of attention span, and manic excitement/irritation over the smallest things. All of this is perfectly fine, and I (sort of) knew what I was getting into. Binding is a process I love for its ability to give me a reprieve from dysphoria, but hate for the reasons I’m about to talk about.
For those who may not know: binding (or using a binder) is a process/garment for trans men to alleviate discomfort with their chests prior to top surgery. In short, my binder is a piece of clothing that will quite literally mash my body into submission so that I can walk out my door without dealing with the crippling dysphoria I’m plagued with.
Most days, the pros of binding far outweigh the cons; no matter how uncomfortable it is at times, it sure as hell beats the other option. I use option very loosely here, because the method I’m referring to would be to wear a bra or sports bra and I’m going to real here… that just can’t happen. Sorry, no, played that game for too many years.
It was 92 degrees outside today, and humid as hell. Most people don’t even want to wear a t-shirt that fits too tightly in weather like this, never mind one that clings to their body. Days like today, I have to take into careful consideration if I actually need to leave the house. That might seem extreme, but since these binders are pretty intentionally made not to have much give to them, staying home and not fighting to get it on can be very appealing.
Think of it like this: you have a tank top that is made of 70% nylon and 30% spandex, but it has been ordered roughly 2 sizes too small. Now put that tank top on and wear it for an entire 8 hour workday. Or go out on a weekend and spend upwards of 10-12 hours walking around a city in it. Add to that the need to layer clothing to help even out the lumps that a binder leaves behind under just a t-shirt. Doesn’t sound ideal, right? It’s not, nor is it overtly healthy. When I go outside on any given day, I am wearing at least two shirts (probably three) plus a binder. I am unable to take a true deep breath in because of the nature of the compression being applied to my torso. Physical activity isn’t only uncomfortable, it’s downright dangerous.
Unfortunately, the only way to alleviate the need to bind at this point is to have surgery, which just isn’t on the table right now. It’s not an inexpensive procedure, and I would need to take more time off of work than I ever have before. Eventually, I’ll get there. It will take some planning and a whole lot of saving, but I’ll get there. For this, I can be patient.
This is part of what I signed up for, but it’s also why I’m very cautious in accepting summer plans that involve being in the heat for too long. I love the heat and I love summer, but if I decline an invite somewhere, don’t hate me. I’m just trying not to put myself in a dangerous situation.
Stay cool, friends.