Grey – Ruby Rose and Chest Binding

I’m just numb, I just watched this and I just couldn’t gah.

Damn this hits close to home, it just makes it hard to be coherent.

Ruby Rose is a media icon, as a model, music TV presenter and as a lesbian. They are melbourne based like me and I have heard them speak at pride rallies in my home city. On the 14th of July Ruby Rose released this video, made with the love and support of their fiancée, Phoebe Dahl (From that Dahl family) and 3 days ago they came out as gender neutral/genderfluid. And that just blows my mind in the most awesome way. But instead of my rambling on (heh, I know you don’t care about my feelings friends) I thought I would talk about chest binding.

Ruby Rose elected to use an elastic bandage to bind with, a strong visual message used in many portrayals of binding. I personally like the metaphor about fixing something broken, but is it the best way to bind? Well no. Elastic bandages slip and are an absolute pain. I still have my bandages somewhere from when I experimented with them to see if I really wanted to bind. I whenever I went out I had to often go to the bathroom (and bathrooms can be scary places for trans* folks) to adjust and often re-bind.

You might be wondering why I’m not using bold and all caps to say DON’T BIND WITH BANDAGES thats because there are many types of bandages and elastic bandages are very very low risk. They same thing that makes them slip, the fact they don’t get very tight is what makes them safe. On the other hand DON’T BIND WITH ACE BANDAGES ace and compression bandages get tighter as you wear them, and this is really dangerous around your ribs, it can result in chronic pain even without binding, deformed ribs and it can interfere with breathing.

To help out anyone looking to bind, I made a step by step guide with all the dos and do nots

STEP ONE order a proper binder, ebay has them very very cheaply if you’re already quite flat, if not just buy a proper ftm binder, you only need one, as I don’t find they get dirty quickly and for best results (not that I follow that) they should be hand washed (and in summer when they need more washing, they shouldn’t take too long to dry overnight). If you have family that might get concerned about your purchase and you can’t/won’t keep it a secret then there are some sports bras that are sold as binding (and sometimes by the same people who make binders like ftm underworks) these are safer anyway because they are not as tight.

STEP TWO find a good guide on how to bind with bandages, KNOW THE RISKS and all binding has risks even with a proper binder, look into the double sports bra method (wear one sports bra the right way and the other backwards) and the like, they are easy and if you wear the right size can be safer. but its not a magic bullet, if the bras are too tight its just as bad as duct tape or ace bandages. Also I understand that they could trigger dysphoria in some people.

STEP THREE if you’re not sure you want to buy and binder or you want to try out binding as you wait for you binders, buy ELASTIC bandages, these will not get tighter over time, and its very hard to get them tight so its quite safe. You will need plenty of them and bandage clips, they will most likely slip and have to be redone as they are hard to readjust. Get the widest bandages you can find.

SECRET STEP. yes you can bind with ace, its a bad idea but I’m not going to lie and say you can’t just because of that, and there are things you can do to be safer. Laci Green has a guide here (NSFW cartoon image at the bottom of page)
with the key points being, replace you bandage every couple of uses, bind as loosely as possible and for the shortest time possible. The cost of replacing ace bandages will soon equate to much more than a binder thought and the risks are still much greater than other methods particularly if you cant take the binder off after 6 hours.

PLEASE just buy a binder, if you can afford bandages (and your family will notice the 2-3 bandages per week you are throwing out or hiding if you bind full time) you can afford the binder, if the people around you are not queer savvy you can just say its a compression top.

KEEP SAFE “It’s also important to keep in mind that strong pressure around the chest and back can cause changes to normal spine alignment, which may result in chronic pain.”

RESEARCH whatever method you choose, research binding, weigh up the risks, even using a proper chest binder properly has side effects. You will have to live with whatever damage you cause to yourself even if you didn’t know about it when the damage was done.


2 thoughts on “Grey – Ruby Rose and Chest Binding

  1. Thanks for raising the binding issue. Binders are not cheap, and you can’t buy them in a store (at least not in the USA), and a lot of people who still live with their parents can’t get access to them easily. But they are the best and safest way to flatten/compress your chest. Personally, for comfort I like the velcro side entry ones (Les Love Boat in Taiwan) a lot better than Underworks – but I can afford them.

    • I really like the underworks ones, the first binder I tried was a side velcro one (from an amazing friend), and I would be forever adjusting it and if the velcro wasn’t quite right it itched.

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