By Jude Samson
Most people go about their days enjoying longer days and warmer weather (although NY seems to be a bit behind) and it’s often a welcome time of year. It’s when we can finally open our windows, do some spring cleaning, and gear up for the summer months ahead. For trans men, however, it isn’t often the light at the end of the tunnel as it is for so many others. While we enjoy all the many benefits to spring and summer, many of us experience increased dysphoria. With the warmer weather comes fewer clothes. The t-shirts, tank tops, and bathing suits get dusted off and now we must contend with greater chest visibility.
“MANY TRANS MEN USE THE WINTERTIME AS A BRIEF REPRIEVE FROM THE HEIGHT OF OUR DYSPHORIA..”
Many trans men use the wintertime as a brief reprieve from the height of our dysphoria by embracing layers of clothes and relaxing in the fact that everyone else is wearing layers as well, and therein we can blend. Our chests are easily covered in bulky sweatshirts and jackets for several months but once spring and summer roll around, we lose some of our levels of protection. If you’re a fan of tank tops, as I am, this may be even worse as it shows a whole lot more. Finding ways to cover one’s chest without constantly walking around with your arms crossed gets much harder this time of year, even for those who use binders. By their very nature, binders are restrictive and while many are designed to take sweating into consideration they don’t do much for allowing the entire torso to breathe freely in the heat. Even a mildly warm day, some exertion, and you are sweating like a beast and, in some cases, may even find it difficult to catch your breath. It becomes a war of comforts – remove the binder and deal with feeling exposed or keep the binder and feel overheated and drenched in sweat.
“IF YOU’VE NOT STARTED TESTOSTERONE YET, KEEPING YOUR BINDER ON MAY BE THE BEST OPTION FOR YOU.”
If you’ve not started testosterone yet, keeping your binder on may be the best option for you. If you have started your HRT, you may notice an increase in sweat production. I used to barely break a sweat, even on burning hot days. Now, three years on HRT and I sweat like a fiend so I’ve opted to relinquish binding unless it’s for an exceptional situation. Most often I will opt to use my compression shirt rather than a full binder (you can read about compression here). I also invested in a swim tank binder to help get me through situations where I’m swimming around strangers or those I don’t know very well. Even though I came to terms with not using anything to conceal my chest while I’m still pre-surgery it still causes apprehension as I look in the mirror and see the very distinct outline of my chest.
I’ve found some clothes that I can use to conceal myself with, often times opting for a size larger. Obviously, the tighter the shirt the more it shows so getting clothes one size up helps add to a bulky appearance rather than highlighting things that I am trying to prevent anyone from noticing.
What are some tips and tricks you’ve come up with to help get you through the warmer months? Have you found a great binder that doesn’t overheat you or leave you drenched? I’d love to hear your feedback on what you do during this time of year. Share your thoughts.