*Disclaimer – These are my personal views, I am not telling anyone how to bind their chest*
We’ve all had the conversation. Don’t tape your chest it’ll break your ribs. Only use properly made binders provided by companies such as Underworks. Binders that do the job right are expensive. Also, binders aren’t the most comfortable. They make you sweat, they make you itch, they make you uncomfortable after a few hours of wearing them. Except their actual purpose of flattening the chest and keeping you insulated in the winter, they are not fun.
For the first year or so of my transition I didn’t bind, I would just wear sports ‘tops’. It didn’t do the job, but at the time it was enough. As I ventured further into expressing my masculinity I did a load of research and decided the binder was the only way forward. I’d read horror stories about tape and had heard only positive things about binders from Underworks. So I spent around £60 purchasing a binder and paying for shipment to the UK. The ability of the vest to flatten my chest was short lived. It still did the job, but after an eight hour shift in work or a full day in lectures, I couldn’t wait to wrestle to get the thing off. I think I may have had a few crying fits on my bathroom floor as I struggled between feeling physically comfortable or feeling more mentally comfortable. It was a bad time.
Completely by chance, I stumbled across an Instagram of a transguy who used KT Tape to flatten his chest. I’m not using the term bind because that isn’t really the effect it has. While binding flattens the chest to your body, the tape more pulls the chest gently to the side and flattens the nipple area. I would also suggest that taping is only really successful for smaller guys (in the chest area, I was an A/B). I decided to order some from Amazon. It was about £13 for a roll. I thought that I may as well try it. At first it was frustrating to try and do it right, like almost everything in transitioning. However, once I figured it out everything improved for me. The tape stays on for a few days (4 maximum) without becoming too slack. You can shower, play sports, sleep etc. It lifted a huge amount of my dysphoria.
Like everyone else, I was still a bit apprehensive. Was this good for me? Was I going to damage something?
When I saw my private doctor about hormones (nearly a year ago) he asked how I binded and I explained about the KT Tape and described how I used it. I asked him if there was anything behind people saying it would hurt me. Although he didn’t have a concrete answer he explained that in his opinion if someone’s chest is flat enough to use tape it would be better for them than a binder as a binder actually physically restricts the chest (hence why we have to have breaks). When I asked about the ribs breaking he further explained that this is from wrapping your chest with something like bandages. Also, KT Tape is designed for sport injuries, to support the muscles and tissue and so it allows for the skin to breathe.
If you’ve read this and would like to try KT Tape I’d recommend that you follow some of my pointers on how to apply it whilst caring for your skin.
- I would only use tape if you have a relatively small chest (B or smaller), I can’t imagine it being very effective on a bigger guy.
- (It may work on a bigger guy, I wouldn’t know as I have a small chest)
- Do not use KT Tape Pro – I tried that and it was not a good experience. The tape stays on ‘too’ well, so when I tried to take it off (even after a few days of wear) it tore my skin and was quite painful. Buy this tape – KT Tape Original
- When taking it off, if you find it’s not quite ready but you want to remove it, apply baby oil to the tape, letting it soak in properly. Then jump in a warm shower or sponge some warm water on your chest and it should come off without a problem.
- When you take it off (even if it’s just for a shower and then to reapply) moisturise the chest area (I’d recommend Nivea Body In Shower Lotion). This keeps the skin hydrated.
- Make sure you have breaks at some point. I’ll wear my tape for a few days and then take it off before bed which gives me a solid eight hours break. It also means I don’t have to worry about going out without feeling comfortable with my chest.
- If your skin is dry/sore (which it shouldn’t be if you’re taking good care of it) I would use Sudocreme (you can usually find it in the baby section of the supermarket) as it heals everything up pretty quick.
Those are just a few of my tips. Most importantly, if KT Tape works for you, enjoy it. I know that a lot of guys do have to use binders until they have top surgery and I try really hard not to take for granted that I can use tape. It is a blessing.