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Chest Binding.

It's common for media to portray bandages as a safe method of chest binding. In truth, bandage binding is extremely unsafe and painful. Bandages compress the ribcage dangerously, preventing normal expansion and breathing.


Not only is it important to discuss trans male, transmasc, gender non-conforming, and AFAB non-binary media for positive reasons, it's also important to criticise movies and shows that endanger members of our community through setting a bad example.

This page includes images of non-op chests, and images of bodies harmed by bandage binding. Proceed with caution if that will make you uncomfortable. Though this page criticises seriously dangerous practices of chest flattening, you can hurt yourself even if you avoid these practices. In fact, you can hurt yourself even while wearing "safe" binders from "safe" companies. Stay vigilant, listen to your body, and seek advice for your specific circumstances. Chest binding is not possible for everyone.

Unsafe Binding

Unsafe Binding.

The above film stills are from JT Leroy (2018), Relish (2019), Boys Don’t Cry (1999), Under My Skin (2020), Degrassi, DUSK (2017), BOY (2014), If These Walls Could Talk 2 (1996), 3 Generations (2015), Pierrot Lunaire (2014), Enola Holmes (2020), and Kinpachi-sensei (S6). Watching these films and shows, you might think bandaging your chest flat is an ideal, consequence-free way to alleviate your dysphoria and otherwise affirm your gender. But the truth is that binding with bandages is unsafe, difficult, and suffocating.


Plus, not all of us are slender, small-chested people who have someone to help us wind bandages around our ribcage. In reality, a person binding with bandages is more likely to get this kind of outcome (film stills taken from 52 Tuesdays, released in 2013):

Ruby Rose

To my immense disappointment, genderfluid star Ruby Rose perpetuated the myth of easy bandage binding in her video Break Free (2014), which has been watched over 54 million times to date. Her video, much like other media depictions of bandage binding, cuts from footage of her manually wrapping herself in bandages, to footage of bandages perfectly wrapped around her... and clipped down behind her back.

Folks and fellas, believe me... she did not accomplish that by herself. She had a team of people to help wind the bandages around her, keep them straight and untwisted, and clip them down where she couldn't reach. I don't need to guess whether that was the case, because the behind-the-scenes footage proves as much:

Millions of people (including trans men, questioning people, non-binary individuals, butch lesbians, etc) have been given the impression that this is the kind of effect you can safely achieve on your own, because the reality is left out of Break Free, the main film feature.

Ironically, the most accurate depiction of bandage binding (in terms of how much pain it causes) comes from Titane (2021), a body horror film where a woman assumes the identity of a missing man in order to escape arrest. While not a trans film in the slightest, I consider it valuable because it does not glorify, idealise, or promote bandage binding as an easy method of chest flattening. In that department, though it's a gruesome movie, I consider it less harmful than idealised depictions like Break Free. Nobody walks away from Titane thinking that bandage binding is safe or comfortable. The following film stills make that clear.