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Emma Corrin, best known to most for a Golden Globe-winning turn as Princess Diana in Netflix's The Crown, this week shared pictures wearing boxing wrap as a chest binding on Instagram.
"Some time before I bought my first binder," the actor, whose pronouns are "she/they", wrote. "It's all a journey right. Lots of twists and turns and change and that's ok! Embrace it."
Corrin also mentioned using the trans-owned chest binding company gc2b.
But what exactly is chest binding? Is it safe? And where is more information available?
What is chest binding?
Chest binding, also known as breast binding, is the act of flattening breasts by the use of constrictive materials. The term also refers to the material used in this act.
Common binding materials include cloth strips, purpose-built undergarments, often using spandex or other synthetic fibre, and shirts layered from tight to loose.
The act of breast binding is common for trans men, but is also done by androgynous and non-binary people, as well as crossdressers, cosplayers, and performers.
Some people may bind for gender-affirming reasons, to avoid gender dysphoria.
Why do people bind their chests?
Transgender men, or people with gender dysphoria, as well as women who have developed larger breasts from hormone replacement therapy or breast augmentation surgery, may have motivation to bind their breasts.
Transgender men and people with other gender identities (typically male presenting) may bind their breasts as an alternative to or while waiting for a "top surgery" (mastectomy) in order to be recognised as masculine presenting.
Is it safe to bind your chest?
To minimise complications, it is often advised that a binding device/method should always be as loose as is practicable and should not be worn for longer than eight hours.
Binding for extended periods of time can lead to rashes or yeast infections under the breasts, back or chest pain, shortness of breath, overheating, or, rarely, fractured ribs.
Additionally, some unconventional binding materials, such as duct tape or athletic bandages, are known to increase an individual's risk for negative health outcomes such as shortness of breath, musculoskeletal damage, and skin damage.
Many people who bind are unwilling to seek medical attention due to a perceived lack of knowledge from healthcare professionals, and continue binding anyway since they believe the benefits out-weigh the risks.
In case of health concerns, they tend to seek help from healthcare professionals they perceive as trans-friendly and who will not stigmatise their binding practice.
What does it mean to identify as trans or as someone beginning to explore their gender identity?
The word trans is an ‘umbrella’ term for all people who cross traditional gender boundaries – whether that is permanently or periodically.
Many trans people know from a very early age that they don’t identify with the gender that is assigned to them at birth while others come to this conclusion much later in life.
Every trans person’s journey through life is unique and individual to them. There are no right or wrong ways of being trans. It’s what works best and feels right for the individual.
There are many different terms and phrases that are used to describe trans people.
Politically and collectively the word trans is useful as an ‘umbrella’ word. It is generic and captures the variety of trans identities without being limiting.
Many services and organisations now use trans to refer to anyone who crosses traditional gender boundaries.
One common misconception is that a trans identity is linked to sexual orientation. This is not true. Being trans is about gender identity and (while part of this identity is about how we and who we choose to relate to emotionally and sexually) it is about how someone defines themselves on the female to male spectrum.
What do the different trans words and phrases mean?
Transgender – A transgender person is someone whose personal idea of their gender does not match with his or her assigned gender role.
Transsexual – Someone who uses hormones and/or surgery to correct their gender identity from the identity given at birth.
Transvestite – Someone who dresses as the opposite gender for emotional comfort, erotic pleasure or because they feel comfortable in doing so – sometimes called a cross-dresser.
Trans Man – Someone who has transitioned from female to male. Someone who was labelled female at birth but has a male gender identity and therefore transitions to live as a man.
Trans Woman – Someone who has transitioned from male to female. Someone who was labelled male at birth but has a female gender identity and therefore transitions to live as a woman.
Transition – A trans person who wishes to live permanently in the social role of the opposite gender and who makes changes necessary for them to function in this role.
Gender Queer – A term for gender identities other than male or female. People who identify as gender queer may think of themselves as being both male and female or as being neither.
What does it mean to transition?
Transitioning means a period of time when a trans person begins to live in the gender role that matches with their internal gender identity.
For example, someone who was born and raised as a female but identifies as a male and who begins to live in role by: being addressed as male; dressing as a man; taking testosterone hormone therapy or having surgery so that their physical appearance is aligned with their internal identity.
Transitioning can involve many different elements – but all involve a person changing their external appearance to reflect the gender identity that they feel represents the true them.
Not everyone who identifies as trans chooses to transition.
Most health professionals recommend that a trans person lives in the new gender identity for three months before starting hormone therapy and one year before any surgery.
Taking female hormones may decrease genital size and encourage breast growth. They can also reduce and soften hair growth (although facial hair removal may need many sessions of laser or electrolysis treatment) and may redistribute body fat to produce a more feminine body profile.
Male hormones can increase body and facial hair and lower the voice.
The hormones also stimulate muscle growth and redistribute body fat to produce a masculine body profile. Taking male hormones can also stop periods, but periods would return if the treatment was stopped.
Trans people who choose hormone therapy as part of transitioning need access to endocrinology services to regularly monitor hormone levels and any effects on mental health.
Where can I find out more or access support?
THE GENDER TRUST
Offers support for all those affected by gender identity issues.
0845 231 0505
Press For Change
Campaigning for respect and equality for all trans people.
The Beaumont Society
National self-help body for trans women and those who cross-dress.
01582 412 220
Information for trans people, their families and the professionals who care for them.
01372 801 554
Family and individual support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues.
0208 123 4819
QWEST FTM UK
Self-help group for all female-to-male trans people and those exploring this aspect of their gender.
Works with the trans community, helping people accept their bodies and live more fulfilling lives.
0702 112 2998
Support, advice & information for anyone who knows or is related to a trans person in the UK.
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