This is Part 3 in a series about breast binding. Part 1 here, Part 2 here. The purpose of this series is to educate parents and caregivers about breast binders: their easy availability to girls and young women, and their potential dangers.
Truth-about-transition has a new reblog up with peer advice for girls and women who have sustained an injury from breast binding. Like most of what truth-about-transition ferrets out, the post pretty much speaks for itself: breast binding can be dangerous–in rare cases, life-threatening.
As I noted in a prior post, adolescents seek advice primarily from others their own age, with Tumblr, YouTube, and Instagram serving as peer counseling hubs for kids discussing dysphoria, surgeries, binding, hormones and everything else trans.
To their credit, the original poster offers advice to stay safe and avoid further injury. Which is a good thing. Adolescents aren’t exactly known for good judgment, foresight, or awareness of danger. Most teens seem to think they’re immortal, preferring to follow their own impulses and desires. They also tend to think adults (particularly their parents) are clueless morons.
The post (excerpted below) is interesting not so much for its pragmatic advice, but for the underlying and very typical messaging. It begins with commonsense advice for those with injuries:
1. Take the binder off. I don’t care how dysphoric you are, I don’t care how bad you feel, I don’t care who is around. DO NOT PUT IT BACK ON.
2. Go to the doctor. Or to a nurse. When I broke my ribs, I went to the nurse at my school because that was free and that worked fine.
Clearly, we are talking about kids here. The fact that the original poster went to the school nurse indicates that they handled this likely without parental knowledge or support. We are talking about broken bones here.
3. Accept that there isn’t anything you can do to heal faster. The most likely thing that doc is going to tell you is that you have some bruised ribs, and you need to let them heal. Sometimes broken ribs can break lungs, which is potentially fatal, so no matter what, you still need to do step two, but that’s probably not going to be the case.
Yes, a broken rib could puncture a lung. At least the original poster mentions the possibility, hopefully scaring the bejesus out of some of their readers. Some of these girls might actually talk to a caring parent (vs. a stranger on the Internet) the next time they have a chest injury, given the potential danger.
Later in the post, we receive the pièce de résistance:
6. Don’t reflect too hard on it. The first thing you are going to think is not “oh I have an injury so I better take care of myself” it’s going to be “this is the physical manifestation of my dysphoria and why does being trans always ruin my life”. Try to refrain from that particular thought. You have an injury. Treat it like any other injury or illness you could get.
Don’t even let the thought enter your mind that doing this to your body is maybe a bad idea. If your ribs are bruised or broken, if being trans ruins your life, is there any possibility you could see this another way? Maybe try to find a way to accept your healthy body, the only one you will ever have?
No. The original poster instructs you to “refrain from that particular thought.” It’s just an injury like any other. Nothing to see here. Move along. (Or maybe it’s time to contemplate a double mastectomy?)
The post finishes by reiterating the message to leave the binder off until the injury heals, with a mention of yet another danger–a warped ribcage:
What not to do.
1. Put that damn binder back on. Don’t. I see you tempted. Don’t.
2. I SAID DON’T.
3. You could end up with a warped ribcage if you don’t allow yourself to heal. Don’t put it back on.
4. Really. Don’t.
This post is but one of many in the Tumblr FTM blogosphere on the same subject. YouTube–the go-to place for FTM transition stories–has this video from 6 years ago which presents a similar cautionary tale.