Why Bind? Emotional, Physical, and Cultural Considerations for Trans and Gender Non-Binary Individuals

  • Kristen Deanne Morris (Colorado State University)
  • Denise Nicole Green (Cornell University)
  • Kyra Streck (Iowa State University)
  • Kelly L. Reddy Best (Iowa State University)
  • Andy Reilly (University of Hawaii-Manoa)
  • Kelsie Doty (Kansas State University)


In this study, we examined emotional and physical aspects of chest binding by surveying 61 trans and gender non-binary (TNB) individuals who currently practice compression of mammary tissue through structural undergarments. Participants believed that binding produced better connections with and/or expression of their gender identity (92%, n=52). Through thematic analysis of qualitative responses, we found three non-mutually exclusive reasons for binding: (a) positive emotional feelings elicited by the practice, such as confidence, comfort, and safety (56%, n = 34); (b) aesthetic and visual improvements, like better fit of menswear  (51%, n =31); and (c) greater satisfaction with gender expression and amelioration of dysphoria (69%, n = 42). One third of participants were ambivalent about binding, noting both positive and negative aspects. One-quarter said that binding made them feel anxious, sad, or upset, and another quarter mentioned physical difficulties like discomfort, back pain, constraint, and trouble breathing.

Keywords: pain, chest binding, transgender, health, gender dysphoria, comfort, gender expression, transmasculine, binding, binding chest

How to Cite:

Morris, K. D., Green, D. N., Streck, K., Reddy Best, K. L., Reilly, A. & Doty, K., (2020) “Why Bind? Emotional, Physical, and Cultural Considerations for Trans and Gender Non-Binary Individuals”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 77(1). doi:



Published on
28 Dec 2020
Peer Reviewed