About the Binder Program
OUT Maine provides free chest binders (specially-designed chest compression garments) to any transgender, nonbinary, gender-expansive, or any other LGBTQ+ Maine youth, ages 14 to 22, who needs one and cannot afford to purchase or safely obtain one. Youth that are 13 and younger must have a parent or guardian request a binder for them. The person receiving the binder must be a legal Maine resident. If they are not a Maine resident, please do not complete and submit this application, as the request will be declined. This includes Maine youth that are attending school out of state or are temporarily living out of the state, but still maintain residency in Maine. Please only apply if you, or the person you are applying for, are truly in need of support.
Here are a few places you can purchase a binder if you are able to purchase and safely obtain one. We are simply providing links to some places where you can purchase a binder. OUT Maine does not endorse or recommend any specific company.
Trans Essentials Free Youth Binder Program
gc2b*| Underworks | MyDOUBLEDESIGN | Trans Essentials
*gc2b donates binders to OUT Maine’s Binder Program.
Apply for a Binder
For those who want to apply here is what you need to know.
How does the program work?
The program operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Limited to one binder, per person, per 12 months. After you have carefully read this page and measured yourself, you may apply by filling out our online application. Once submitted, you’ll automatically be added to our list.
- You identify as transgender, gender-expansive, non-binary, or any other non-cis identity under the trans umbrella.
- You live in the state of Maine, or are a legal Maine resident living temporarily out-of-state.
- You are between the ages of 14 and 22.
- If you are 13 or younger, you have a parent or guardian that can request a binder for you.
- You cannot afford to purchase a binder on your own or the binder cannot be obtained safely on your own.
How to apply for a binder
Please read this page and the FAQ section carefully before filling out the application form.
- Before you request a binder, you’ll need to know your size! See the Measuring and Sizing Guide below on how to properly measure for the correct size. This is a very important step, DO NOT SKIP IT, or assume that you know your size before requesting one. Different manufacturers and different styles of binders all have different dimensions and can vary! Do not rely on clothing size or past binders for your size, you must measure and enter your measurements on the form!
- Complete the application form. Once you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email with a summary of your request and be added to the list for shipping. Be sure to save your email!
- Please contact us within 2 business days if any of the information in your confirmation email needs to be corrected or changed or if you need to cancel the request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will send out a binder as quickly as we can. Due to COVID, we may have times when we are not in the office as frequently as in the past, so there may be a delay when shipping your binder. We appreciate your patience. If there are urgent circumstances that require expedited shipping, please be sure to email us as soon as possible.
- When we are preparing to ship your binder, we will be using the name and mailing address that you have entered in the form. Please ensure that you have double checked that all of the information is correct. Our binders ship in plain packaging without any branding and are ususally small enough to fit inside a mailbox without any issue. Some binders may not fit in a small Post Office box and may require that you pick up the package from the customer service desk.
- You will receive an automated shipping notification email from USPS when your binder ships that will include your tracking number. Tracking numbers can take up to 24 hours to fully activate and the USPS site may list the package as “pre-shipment” until it activates. Be sure to save this email.
Measuring and Sizing Guide (Read this before measuring!)
Step 1: Prepare
- Get a flexible measuring tape- if you don’t have one, CLICK HERE to download a printable ruler and measure with a string
- Do not wear a bra or any other compression products and take the measurments while standing.
Step 2: Take your measurements
TIP: Each chest measurement should be taken all the way around your torso. The measuring tape should not compress your chest tissue but should touch your body. If the measuring tape is not touching your body – it’s too loose.
(1) Underarm measurement: Take this measurement around the top of your chest, just above where your breast tissue begins. The measuring tape should lay just below your armpits and at the beginning of your breast tissue. Write this number down as your first measurment.
(2) The largest part of the chest: Take this measurement while standing, around the torso and chest where the most breast tissue is (usually around the nipples, but this will vary person to person). This will most likely be your largest measurement. Write this number down as your second measurement.
(3) Underbust measurement: Take this measurement directly under your breast tissue, around your ribcage, where you would measure your band size for a bra. Write this number down as your third measurement.
(4) Shoulder width: Place the measuring tape at the point of one of your shoulders. Then stretch the tape to the point of your other shoulder. Don’t wrap the measuring tape all the way around your shoulders for this measurement–just point-to-point. It should go just behind your neck in a straight line, from shouldertip to shoulder tip. Write this number down as your fourth and final measurement.
Step 3: Find Your Size
Compare your largest chest measurement (of the 3 measurements you took) and your shoulder measurement to the sizing chart. If your chest and shoulder measurements do not align with the same size, choose the larger of the two sizes. For example: If your largest chest measurement is 35″ (Medium) and your shoulder measurement is 20″ (Large), you should request a Large Binder. If your chest measuremnt is 38″ (Both Large & XLarge) and your shoulder measurement is 17″ (Both Medium & Large), you shold choose an XLarge Binder.
What is a Chest Binder?
Chest binders are specially-designed compression garments that help flatten the chest for a more masculine appearance, which helps many transgender youth and adults live their lives more authentically or feel more comfortable in their bodies, and navigate public spaces more safely.
Ways NOT to bind:
- Duct tape/ packing tape/ any kind of tape
- Ace bandages
It’s important to stay away from these practices because they can cause issues including scarring, fluid build-up in the lungs or even broken ribs. It can also hurt your ability to move properly. Ace bandages actually get tighter every time they stretch (i.e. when you breathe) and breathing is important. Ace bandages can also easily come loose and have to be redone, and don’t hide very well under thin clothes.
I have a medical condition. Is it safe for me to wear a binder?
We are not, nor do we claim to be, healthcare providers or medical experts in any capacity. We simply do not have the resources to provide any recommendations whatsoever for individuals with pre-existing conditions or specific unique situations, as that would be outside the scope of our ability to support.
As much as we empathize with the challenges faced by many people in our community, we encourage anyone with medical conditions to work with your healthcare provider to determine if a binder is an option for you.
Are there any studies that talk about the impact of chest binding for Transgender youth and young adults?
Yes. This study examined chest binding among trans-masculine and other gender diverse individuals and demonstrates the importance of this practice for improving life satisfaction and perceived safety, despite physical health sequelae resulting from binding. This study also reveals a paucity of resources available to adolescents and young adults regarding safe binding practices. The full study is available here.
How do I care for my binder?
It is important to wash your binders regularly, especially in the warmer months, to get rid of all the sweat, germs, and oil that can transfer from your skin. This will also reduce the risk of rashes and itchiness.
Most binders are made of elastic materials that can easily wear down if washed in hot water and put in the drier.
Most binders will come with washing instructions but in general here is how to wash a binder.
You can either wash your binder on a delicate or gentle cycle, in cold or warm water with materials of similar weight. If your binder has clasps, close the clasps to prevent them from catching on to other things. You can also handwash your binder in the sink with a little detergent and warm water. Rinse it thoroughly to make sure you get out all the soap, and then hang it to dry.
Hanging your binder is generally better than putting it in a drawer because it helps maintain its shape.
What other things I should know about binding?
- It is not recommended to wear a binder during exercise, a sports bra will provide easier breathing, help prevent lightheadedness and overheating.
- It is not recommended to wear a binder at night. You really should give your body a break and not wear one for more than about 10 hours a day.
- Long-term binding can cause damage to your skin, breast tissue, and ribs. So give your body a rest once in a while.
- It’s super important for a binder to fit correctly to prevent damage to your body.
Is my information confidential?
We will not release the names of any individuals applying to this program for any reason. We very much value your privacy.
What kind of binder will I receive?
We guarantee you’ll receive a binder in the size you request, but we can’t guarantee the style, color, or manufacturer of the binder. Some may be gently used donated binders and others may be new. What we can ship will depend on what we have available in your size. We ask for preferences so we can match your request as closely as we can and will do our best to find a binder that matches as many of your preferences as possible. If we do not have one available that matches what you’ve requested, we will choose one that is as close as possible. We will prioritize length choices and then colors, in that order. You may receive a binder that is not in the color or length that you’ve chosen, but we will ensure that we ship the size chosen or verified.
How do I know what size I need?
Before you make your request, you need to measure yourself using the guide above. Please keep in mind that these garments are sized and graded for compression purposes, so they are designed to fit snugly in order to compress and flatten. Do not intentionally go down in size; you will not be able to put your binder on.
How soon will I receive my binder?
We will try to fill requests as soon as we can, but it may depend on the number of requests and what we have available for binders. You will receive a confirmation of your request via email when you make the request and an email from USPS when your binder has shipped. If there are any delays with your request or any additioanl information that we require in order to process your request, we will email you. Otherwise, we ship binders approximately once per week.
What information will be confirmed before shipment?
You will receive confirmation of your request once the application is submitted. You will then receive an email with the details of your application. Please review both of these carefully and email email@example.com if any of the information is incorrect or needs to be changed. If we do not hear from you within 2 business days with any changes or corrections, we will assume that the information on the request is correct and process your binder for shipment.
Where can I have my binder shipped?
We want to ship your binder to an address where you can safely receive it. When you fill out the application, provide the address where you want us to ship the binder and also provide your email address so we can communicate with you to confirm shipment.
We can ship a binder to any valid address in the United States. This can be your mailing address, a friend’s or neighbor’s, a relative’s, your school (with permission from a teacher or school counselor/admin staff) or a PO Box.
How do I update my contact information?
If your mailing address or email has changed, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Name on the original request.
- Email on the original request.
- New email.
- New address.
- Anything else you would like us to know.
How do I cancel my request if I no longer need a binder?
To cancel a request, please send an email to email@example.com with the following information:
- Email (email used when requesting a binder)
- Reason for cancellation
- Anything else you would like us to know
I currently have a binder that no longer fits. Can I exchange it for another size?
Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to exchange your binder for a different-sized one. If you’d like to donate your new or gently-used binder that doesn’t fit properly, we’ll gladly accept it and mail it out to the next person on our waiting list. However, in order to receive a binder in the size you need, you would have to fill out the binder request form. You will be added to the end of our waiting list.
What is your return policy for binders?
If a binder is tried on but not “worn” it can be exchanged ONCE per year, as long as it is mailed back to us, at your expense, in the condition in which it was received.
Once it is received, we will notify you that you can complete the request for a replacment binder. We can only do this once per binder request, per person, per year. We emphazise the importance of measuring correctly as this is the number one reason that people return or request additional binders. We rely on donations for our binders and as such, we want as many youth to benefit from this program as possible. Please be sure to measure using the instructions on our webpage before completing the request form.
How do I donate a binder to the program?
Thank you for your generosity! We accept new and gently used clean binders. All sizes, styles, and colors. More information on how to donate can be found here.
What if I have another question?
If you have a question that is not answered in the FAQ’s please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donate to the Binder Fund
If you would like to donate money specifically to this program, please use the button below to donate to the Binder Fund. Thank you for supporting OUT Maine’s Binder Program!
Donate a Binder
Thank you for your generosity — we could not offer this program without your donations!
We accept new and gently used clean binders. All sizes, styles, and colors. Please include the Binder Donation Form or note on each binder that you donate with the manufacturer’s name and size if known. This helps us sort donations and get them to folks on our waiting list more quickly.
To donate, download the Binder Donation form and mail with your donated binders to OUT Maine, PO Box 1723, Rockland, ME 04841.
Please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions.