Gender Diverse 101

How does it feel to be non binary?

A difficult thing to quantify not only because very few people can even describe how it feels to be binary gendered, but because the experience of being non-binary can be different from person to person.

There’s a temptation to try and understand non-binary gender as hostility or frustration against binary gender, this just ends up framing non-binary experiences and feelings in binary terms. In simplest possible terms, what it feels like to be non binary is what it feels like to “be” male or female, but it’s not “being” male or female.

How come some non-binary people look feminine or masculine, and some binary people look androgynous?

Androgyny is a term of outward appearance and is not necessarily indicative of someone’s gender identity. It only describes that they don’t look specifically masculine or feminine, not that they are male, female, or non-binary. If you’re not sure whether or not someone is non-binary, it’s best just to ask.

What sort of injuries can chest binders cause?

Compression on the chest can increase the risk of fracturing or breaking ribs, especially if that compression isn’t spread out evenly. If the compression is too tight, it can damage blood vessels in the chest, leading to an increased risk of blood clots or even heart attack. Long term wear can cause inflammation in the rib-cage known as costochondritis, as well as potential back pain.

It’s very important to only bind for a few hours at a time (up to 8 hours), and to have days where you don’t bind at all. If you do start experiencing shortness of breath, back pain, chest pain, stiffness, or muscle fatigue, you should cease wearing a binder immediately and if problems persist consult your doctor.

How do I buy a binder?

Start by measuring your chest, or getting a close friend to help you measure your chest. Most websites recommend using a tape measure to take an under-arm measurement, and a second measurement around the widest part of your chest. Use these measurements with a site’s specific sizing-chart to figure out which binder to buy.

Especially for those with larger breasts, there’s a temptation to buy a smaller size for more compression. This is a bad idea, not only because it increases the risk of health issues or injury. But because it’s much harder to put a binder on if it’s too small.

Where do I buy binders from?

Unfortunately as something of a niche product, the best place to purchase binders is online. Two of the most well-regarded websites to buy binders from are GC2B ( and Underworks ( Unfortunately because they are US websites, shipping can be an expensive or take some time. While these websites can accommodate many different body shapes and types, if you do have troubles finding something appropriate it’s worth looking into custom options by searching for “Custom Chest Binders”.

How do I wear a binder?

Most binders are designed to be pulled on over the head like a shirt. It can be a bit tricky at first, particularly because it can take a little bit of wearing in for the fabric to loosen. Making sure that your skin is dry first can help, as can using some baby powder. If you’re still having trouble putting it on, it might be a sign that you need a larger size.

After you’ve put a chest binder on, it can be a bit tricky making sure your chest looks even and symmetrical. It might take a little bit of practice to figure out how to make everything sit just right, or how to make adjustments. The important thing is to make sure that no part of the binder feels like it’s digging in. If it’s proving particularly challenging to make things sit evenly, lying down on your back can help.

What are sex hormones?

Hormones are substances produced in the body that help instruct other parts of the body when and how to act in a particular way. When talking about sex and gender, there are a number of hormones that tell the body how to grow in a “male” or “female” way. More specifically these are referred to as sex hormones, and include Progesterone, Estrogen, and Testosterone.

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a female sex hormone that specifically regulates breast development, pregnancy, and menstruation. While not typically prescribed to transgender people, it is often used to trigger a female puberty in intersex children who have undergone medical intervention.

What is estrogen?

Estrogen is a female sex hormone that builds and maintains female sex characteristics. It’s interaction with progesterone means that it can be taken orally as a contraceptive, and to alleviate certain menstrual disorders. It’s also the key hormone used in hormone therapy, to either replace lost estrogen, or override the presence of testosterone and encourage female development.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a male sex hormone that builds and maintains male sex characteristics. Typically it’s absorbed through the skin through either a gel or patch, but is also commonly injected into the muscle where it is absorbed over a number of weeks. It is often used as a growth hormone to replace lost testosterone, or to override the presence of estrogen and encourage male development.

What are hormone suppressors? How do they work?

Hormones trigger cell activity by connecting to molecules known as hormone receptors. Hormone suppressors are compounds that can bind to hormone receptors without triggering the same cell activity. This can be used to stall the onset of puberty, until an age that a minor can consent to transition. Or can be used in conjunction with hormone therapy to help enhance the effects of estrogen or testosterone.

So what’s the deal with non binary pronouns and titles?

One of the realities that non-binary people face is that a lot of language and grammar structures in English only accommodate male and female identities. When presented with “he or she”, “mr or mrs”, “male or female” as the only options, it means that non-binary people are being forced to lie about themselves.

However the ideas around what gender neutral language looks like are still forming and being explored. Right now the “singular they” is seen as a compromise, a reasonable use of a grammar structure that is already well established with mainstream.