She stopped climbing trees

Today’s TERF outrage is the NY Times itself, daring to hint ever so gently that binders might not be all that beneficial to the people who wear them.

Binders are not classified as medical devices, but some doctors and parents have concerns about their safety. (Common-sense binding guidelines include: Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape, don’t bind at night, limit a binder to eight to 10 hours a day, don’t shower in it, don’t wear two, and don’t wear one that is too small.)

Hmm. Doesn’t all that, taken together, make it appear that wearing them at all isn’t a particularly good idea?

For transgender or gender-nonconforming teens who cannot afford binders, which start at around $30, there are free binder programs. FTM Essentials runs an application and lottery for those age 24 and under. Point of Pride, a transgender nonprofit based in Eugene, Ore., ships binders free to people of any age who express need and has sent over 4,000 nationally and internationally.

Does anybody ship Jimmy Choo shoes to people who express need?

A 17-year-old in Phoenix who binds daily and asked to be identified only by the initials J.M. said he started binding at 13. To maximize the compression, he bought a binder one size too small and wore it at night. “My arms and hands would feel numb and tingly off and on,” he emailed, “from how tight the material was around that area.” When he removed the binder, he found his skin “severely chafed and raw.”

He added: “The divots left behind from those times took months to heal. In all honesty, I couldn’t have cared less about the damage being created, just that my chest was flat.”

Healthy? Empowering? Liberating?

Though there have been no studies on binding and adolescent health, because of ethical concerns about research on minors, 2017 study by students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Boston University School of Medicine, and the Boston University School of Public Health looked at 1,800 transmasculine adults with a median age of 23. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they had bound for over a year, over half bound an average of seven days a week, and 66.6 percent were interested in top surgery. An additional 13.1 percent had already had the surgery.

Participants reported a statistically significant improvement in mood after binding. They also reported decreased gender dysphoria, anxiety and depression. As for physical effects, 97.2 percent of the group that bound reported at least one negative physical symptom, such as back pain, overheating, chest pain and shortness of breath. Other symptoms included numbness, bad posture and lightheadedness.

I wonder if there’s any chance at all that a statistically significant improvement in mood could be achieved by explaining that breasts don’t determine personality.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not have an official position on binding. But in a policy statement last year on care of transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents, it advocated a “gender-affirmative care model,” where providers convey that “variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity.”

But some worry that parental efforts to affirm a young person’s identity by supporting binding may contribute to self-hate. Jane Wheeler, a co-founder of an organization called Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics, which examines standards of care for gender-variant children and youth, said binding “feeds into a normalization of body hatred, that some forms of body hatred are O.K.”

Like for instance the kind that interferes with breathing and physical activity.

Brie Jontry is the spokeswoman for 4thWaveNow, which describes itself as “a community of parents and others concerned about the medicalization of gender atypical youth.” Her daughter, now 15, told Ms. Jontry that she was trans at 11 and wanted a binder. Ms. Jontry bought her a running bra, but her daughter felt it was not constricting enough, refusing to leave the house until she got a binder.

The first one she tried, at age 12, was too tight, Ms. Jontry thought, so they returned it and ordered a larger one. Her daughter, who was home-schooled, bound at home and every time she went out. She stopped running, rock-climbing, backpacking and swimming.

“We would go for our evening walk and she would get winded and dizzy,” Ms. Jontry said. “She stopped climbing trees. She stopped doing things where any degree of upper-body flexibility was important.”

Just like all those Victorian women in the tight corsets! So very affirmative.

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