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My First Chest Binder

by Eli

I got my first binder when I was 12, about to be 13. I had to ask my Mum to buy it for me and I remember spending weeks working up the courage to ask about it. I had never mentioned anything like it before, or any possibility that I wasn’t cis, so I didn’t quite know how the conversation was going to go. At the time, I was full of questions about my identity, and definitely wasn’t ready for someone else to ask me those questions. So, when I finally worked up the courage to ask for a chest binder, I was super vague in my reasons for wanting one. Luckily, she was supportive of it and didn’t press me on exactly why I was asking for it.

I ordered one from America, as that was really the only option at the time. It took about a month to arrive, and that whole month I was simultaneously excited and really nervous. At the time, I didn’t really know much about binding, only that it flattens your chest. I was also worried that it wouldn’t even fit me, and that I would have to wait months again to get one that did. Once it arrived, I spent a while just holding it. Too nervous to put it on, but not willing to put it away. I think it took me about half an hour before I was ready to try it on.

Getting into the binder took me another half an hour, as it was so rigid and the guide on how to get it on wasn’t very helpful. It took a lot of wiggling and bending my arm in weird ways, but I got it on, and it fit. I remember looking in the mirror and instantly felt all the nerves leave. I felt so much more comfortable in my own skin, and the relief and joy I felt then made me realise how dysphoric I had really been. That same night, I went out to dinner with my family, this was my first time wearing my chest binder out of the house. The whole time I felt so relaxed, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt more confident and more me.

I wore my first binder to shreds after that. I definitely should’ve bought more, but I was so happy with the success of the first one that it just never came to mind. Only once my binder was coming apart at the seams did I realise that it was time to buy a few more. Binding has been such a positive experience for me, it allowed me to really come into my own and gain a lot of security about my identity.