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Chest binding study; “over 97% reported at least one negative health outcome”

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Chest binding study; “over 97% reported at least one negative health outcome”
an image of someone chest binding

A study on chest binding is being bandied about by the anti-trans crowd due to the eye catching statistic reported in the abstract. “Over 97% reported at least one of 28 negative outcomes attributed to binding”. But what does this actually mean?

The anti-trans crowd and its collaborators within the media are working double-time at the moment to make binders and therefore Mermaids UK seem abusive. This after a journalist posed as a 14 year old and attempted to use the service for trans youth to obtain support with chest binding.

Aside from the absolute normal-ness of a 14 year old journalist invading youth support services to catch Mermaids UK out and subsequently finding out that Mermaids UK do what they say they do; support trans youth. One of the bigger talking points coming out of this whole manufactured drama regards a statistic that even Mermaids UK themselves share with trans youth attempting to access support.

“Over 97% reported negative health outcomes from wearing a binder” – I couldn’t find the source of this statistic myself despite having a good look around. Thankfully a Twitter user whose bio says they are a cognitive neuroscientist managed to track it down and point out one of the most glaring flaws with applying this statistic the way transphobes want to.

The actual abstract of the study reads “Over 97% reported at least one of 28 negative outcomes attributed to binding”. The 28 negative outcomes listed in the study including minor things like itchiness and acne all the way up to major things broken ribs and trouble breathing. That means that if you reported that your binder was itching you would be part of that 97% statistic.

 

That 97% statistic is also in reference to all kinds of binding too – whether that’s incredibly unsafe methods such as duct tape and sports bras or careful binding for short periods of time. The abstract shows that commercial binders were more commonly associated with one of the 28 negative outcomes but this could just be due to them being the most commonly used method at this point. Showing that accessible information on chest binding has steered more trans masculine people towards safer chest binding methods.

The kind of chest binding most associated with rib fractures was elastic (or other) bandages and athletic compression wear – not purpose made commercial binders.

The findings of the study are in short that the thing most likely to cause one of the 28 negative health outcomes is frequency. Wearing a binder for too long or too often without sufficient breaks will almost certainly give you some aches, rubbed skin, itchiness, dermatological issues etc. This is why all reputable information on chest binding recommends not wearing it for longer than 8 hours at a time and also having rest days where you don’t wear it at all.

The study in no way supports the narratives of anti-trans activists claiming all binding is harmful and must be stopped at all costs. Its once again a study which has been mischaracterised to fit transphobic rhetoric as the actual abstract ends with; “Clinicians caring for transmasculine patients should assess binding practices and help patients manage risk.”

It is extremely clear that those conducting this survey were doing so to further harm reduction for those who desire flatter chests and are looking into chest binding. The fact that people can mither transphobically to the point that mainstream media will report their mischaracterisations as fact is terrifying and the UK press must be held accountable for this.