Chest Binding Glossary

Glossary of Terms Related to Chest Binding Health for Health Providers

*bold terms are most likely to be used in discussions with patients about binding

AFAB – abbreviation for “assigned-female-at-birth”. This abbreviation is used commonly in conversation.

Binder or Chest Binder – something that is worn on the upper body to create a flatter physical contour by reducing the visibility of chest tissue. Binders can be garments, worn like under shirts, or specialized body-safe tape worn on, but never around, the chest. (see also Kinetic Tape Binding Method and Tank Binder)

Binding – the practice of wearing a chest binder to minimize the appearance of chest tissue

Chest Masculinization – a plastic surgery procedure that aligns the appearance of the post-mastectomy chest with that of a typical male chest. Many but not all transmasculine people opt for chest masculinization as part of their top surgery.

Cisgender (abbreviated cis) – Refers to people whose gender identity and gender expression align with their assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on their birth certificates). Identifying non-transgender people this way reduces the othering of transgender people.

Dead name – the name given at birth and used before a renames themself as part of their gender transition which not all trans people do. “dead naming” is using the deadname and is painful for and insulting to many transgender people.

Dysphoria – the discomfort and distress related to the incongruence between a person’s gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. It can be mild (e.g. feeling uncomfortable in gendered clothing) to severe (e.g. unable to leave the house). Often, suicides stem from extreme dysphoria.

FTM (abbreviation for female-to-male) – refers to a trans man

Gender Affirming Surgery – a surgical intervention that helps a patient better to align their physical body with their gender identity. Categories of GAS are: “bottom surgeries” which alter genitals and reproductive organs, “top surgeries” which change the appearance of the chest, “FFS or facial feminization surgeries” which sculpt the facial features, and “body contouring” which adds and removes fat tissue to change the siloheutte. For more information about the long list of GAS visit UCSF Guidelines for Gender Affirming Care.

Gender Expansive – Umbrella term referring to people whose gender identities fall outside of what is considered typical for their sex as assigned at birth.

Gender Expression – characteristics a person displays to communicate their gender to be perceived in a way that aligns with their gender expression. Means of expressions include: clothing, hairstyle, posture, movement, mannerisms, speech, social activities

Gender Identity – a person’s innate, deeply-felt identification as a particular conception of gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or assigned sex at birth (i.e. the sex listed on the birth certificate).

Gender Inclusive – refers to something that is intended to be for or about all genders

Gender Neutral Pronoun – a personal pronoun that refers to the person without associating a gender to them. The most common one in English is they/them but there are also gender-neutral neo-pronouns

Gender Non-conforming – describes someone who does not conform to traditional binary gender roles. They may identify as transgender, or non-binary or they may identify and express themselves as feminine men, masculine women, androgynous, or otherwise outside of the categories boy/man and girl/woman

Gender Normative – referring to something that adheres to prevailing social norms about gender

Gender-Affirming Care – healthcare and wellness services in which the client or patient’s gender identity is recognized without judgement throughout the entire process of receiving services and they are given resources, information, and encouragement to make the best health decisions for themselves in an open and non-judgemental environment.

Genderfluid – referring to a person whose gender or gender expression changes or shifts along the gender spectrum

Genderqueer – Referring to a person whose gender differs from the normative binary vision of gender.

Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT – administration of hormones for therapeutic purposes. In transgender health HRT is used to develop external characteristics of a gender other than the one assigned at birth and internal alignment with the embodiment of a person’s true gender. This is one option for medical transition and is generally prescribed by a medical professional. Not all transgender or non-binary people take hormones as part of transition.

Kinetic Tape Binding Method – a non-compressive binding option achieved by applying kinetic tape (aka K-Tape) to compress the chest tissue. Tape is applied to the front of the body only and NOT wrapped around the ribcage.

LGBTQIA2S+ – (abbreviation used for sexual and gender minorities) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit, Plus other gender and sexual minorities. Not all of these letters are always represented and new identities are included as the social climate changes.

Medical Transition – a process of making changes to gender expression that relies on medical treatments such as hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries. There is no checklist or average time for a transition process, and no universal goal or endpoint.

Misgender – to intentionally or unintentionally attribute a gender to a person that does not correctly reflect their gender.

Misgendering – the act of assigning a gendered category to a person other than the gender which they identify with. This can be verbal, written, or communicated through action.

Non-binary- (1) a gender identity that is neither strictly male nor strictly female and departs from or mixes expressions of masculinity or femininity. (2) umbrella term for all genders that exist outside of male and female.

Non-Medical Transition – a process of making changes to gender expression that does not involve any medical interventions. It varies for each transgender or nonbinary person and may include changes to their name, sex designation, outward physcial expression, pronouns, or legal documents. There is no checklist or average time for a transition process, and no universal goal or endpoint.

Outing – the act of exposing a person’s gender identity without their permission

Passing – when someone is perceived, without question, as their gender they identify, rather than their sex assigned at birth

Sex Assigned at Birth – the sex marker assigned to a person at the time of birth according to a set of medical standards, usually based on visual inspection of the person’s external genitalia. This term is the appropriate way to ask a person about the biological history of their bodies but should only be done if it is necessary for you to have this information

Stealth – refers to a person is has transitioned to a different gender and who is not informing those around them of their gender history.

Tank Binder – binding garment shaped like a form-fitting crop-top tank. Common styles:

  • Half-length – cover the torso roughly from shoulders to just below the chest tissue.
  • Full-length – cover the torso roughly from shoulders to navel and provide some abdominal/belly compression.
  • Over-the-hip – cover the full torso, long enough to be tucked in and provide abdominal/belly compression
  • Racerback – Y-shaped back panel cut so the shoulder blades are uncovered for greater shoulder range of motion.

Top Surgery (transmasculine) – the removal of breast tissue, relocation or removal of nipple complexes. In medical documentation, the procedure is considered a double mastectomy but differs substantially mastectomies to treat breast cancer. (see also chest masculinization)

Trans Man – a person whose sex assigned at birth is “female” and identifies as a man.

Transgender (abbreviated trans) – a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The correct term is “transgender” not “transgendered”.

Transition – the process by which a person makes changes that reflect their true gender identity. There is no checklist or average time for a transition process, and no universal goal or endpoint.

Transmasculine – umbrella term that refers to people who were assigned female at birth but identify with masculinity.

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