Student creates new chest binder that could change lives for trans men

Miles Kilburn (L) designed the binder concept, worn by trans student Jamie (R)

A design student has created a new less painful chest binder that could change lives for transgender men.

Many transgender men and non-binary people choose to use binders to compress their chests, but binding over a long period of time can be painful and lead to long-term health impacts.

Miles Kilburn, who studies Industrial Design and Technology at Loughborough University, has invented a new smart binder that could revolutionise life for people who use binders.

New chest binder allows people to take breaks from binding

His prototype product, Breathe, includes a smart alloy that can decompress the binder on demand, allowing people to take breaks from binding throughout the day without having to take their clothes off.

The “movement-sensitive” garment could also allow users to take part in sport without the restricted movements of a traditional binder.

The student said: “A lot of transgender people who are wearing chest binders are often experiencing a lot of pain while binding, so much so that they can feel pressured into having top surgery [as soon as possible] so that they have a permanently flat chest.

“Top surgery is very much an expensive and permanent decision, so for many transgender people having a product like Breathe could be an alternate option which gives them more time to consider whether they want surgery whilst experiencing much less pain from binding.”

Binder could reduce pain and discomfort

Jamie, one of the transgender students who worked with Kilburn to develop the binder, said: “I love this design for many reasons, mainly because it feels like a safer way to bind, because you have that option of loosening it if it gets uncomfortable or gets painful.”

Miles Kilburn's design concept could change lives for transgender men and non-binary people

Miles Kilburn’s design concept could change lives for transgender men and non-binary people (Loughborough University)

Jamie added: “Chest binding for me is a way for me to feel more masculine when I’m going outside because it flattens out my chest and it means I feel more comfortable presenting as male.

“The problems that I face is more to do with discomfort – it gets very hot.

“I think Breathe could definitely help because it reduces discomfort and means that people can use their binder for more situations; they don’t need to take it off for sport, for example.”