Binders offer a great deal of relief from dysphoria for many trans men but they are not the only option. Here, one trans man shares his top tips on how to use tape as an alternative.
Tape for binding is sold as Kinesiology Tape (KT) or under the branded name: Trans Tape. I order standard KT Tape from a company called #Doyourfitness who are based in Germany. It is always worth checking their shop on Amazon, as well as their main website https://doyoursports.de/, as the prices can vary. I would order TransTape, as the company is run for trans people by trans people, but I am UK based and the import costs sadly push their products outside of my price range.
The company I use supplies rolls that are wider than average (10cm rather than the usual 5cm) and I find these much better for binding with. I use a combination of 5cm and 10cm tape, this is a cheaper option than buying all 10cm and cutting them down.
As far as placement is concerned, it’s a matter of trial and error to work out what’s best for you. I find a combination of going diagonally from the top centre of one side of the chest to the bottom on the side, and straight across from the centre to the side works best, but this may be different for you. NEVER put the tape all the way around your body, as this could restrict your breathing.
“When you are applying the tape there are a couple of tricks to make it stay in place and to make it easier to change.”
- Always cover your nipples with something first, I use little bits of micropore (surgical tape) or little bits of bandages cut to size and then micropore to hold them in place.
- Keep both edges of the tape slack when applying, only stretch the middle bit, this will stop it moving too much or putting too much strain on your skin.
- The tape only sticks well to skin, not to itself, so you have to make sure that the ends have at least 5mm or so of skin contact.
- To remove the tape, cover it with oil – any oil is fine, I personally like almond oil – and leave it for a while. The tape should come off reasonably easily, if it doesn’t, then apply more oil. I do find that sometimes it causes sore patches but usually, this is because I haven’t followed all of the advice above!
When I do get sore patches, I use a combination of witch hazel and E45 cream to heal it up quickly. Even the worst cases I’ve experienced have been fixed in 48 hours – beware, whilst these creams are effective, they do sting!
Some people like to round the corners off to try and prevent them from lifting up, I don’t do this personally but that is more because I can’t be bothered to fiddle with it that much. You might like to try this technique, if you have issues with the corners lifting.
The tape usually stays on for around a week for me, sometimes longer in colder weather and less in hotter weather. It also stays on fine when I shower and go swimming. I take it off when it starts to slip. This is also the stage at which the glue becomes less effective, which makes taking it off much much easier – having said that I would still use oil to help with removal.
Tape is more flexible than a traditional binder. It is also much cooler and less restrictive. As a result, I don’t have to take it off at night, something which does wonders for my dysphoria.
In terms of the negatives of using tape, there are a few:
- It can damage the skin, causing blisters if the skin is pulled.
- It can be itchy, until you get used to it.
- The tape can pull out chest hair but shaving these, or cutting them, eliminates the problem.
Wearing traditional binders brings with it its own set of issues, including muscular damage, which you don’t get with tape. As a solution it is definitely worth exploring, particularly if you plan on binding for the long-term.
Image courtesy of @capener44 on Instagram