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Chest binders cause pain and injury in 97 percent of cases.

Binders are safe when used appropriately and within recommended guidelines.


A recent article published in The Telegraph about the trans charity and advocacy organization known as Mermaids and their provision of chest binding garments to minors has caused controversy, with several individuals on social media claiming that chest binders almost always cause pain and injury to the wearer. 

In fact

This claim is false, and binders do not pose significant health risks when worn properly. When worn correctly, binders –– compression garments often worn by trans individuals who wear them to minimize the shape of their chest –– are a safe, non-permanent option for minimizing chest dysphoria among trans people. They are recommended in place of alternative means that trans people have often resorted to when unable to access binders, such as ace bandages, which, unlike binders, do not move with the wearer's body and can restrict the wearer's ability to breathe, potentially leading to further harmful effects such as hypoxia and even broken ribs. 

Binders, however, are explicitly designed to move and expand with the wearer's body so that harm and discomfort are minimized with safe and appropriate use. Safely using a binder means ensuring that it is a correct fit for the individual using it and that the binder is not being worn for extended lengths of time. International clinical guidelines recommend that healthcare providers ensure that patients are appropriately instructed in the safe use of binders and the potential consequences of their improper use, such as counseling patients to wear binders for no more than eight hours per day and to take at least one day off from binding per week.

In context, the claim is meant to suggest that Mermaids is supplying minors with garments that could harm their wellbeing without their parent's knowledge or consent. In response to The Telegraph's investigation, Mermaids issued a statement, saying the organization "takes a harm reduction position with the understanding that providing a young person with a binder and comprehensive safety guidelines from an experienced member of staff is preferable to the likely alternative of unsafe practices and/or continued or increasing dysphoria." Mermaids provides extensive advice on the safe and proper use of binders on their website.

The verdict

Binders are safe when used appropriately and within the recommended guidelines. We have therefore marked this claim as false.

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