3 Binder Reviews for Transmasculine Folks: GC2B, Rebirth Garments, and Origami Customs
Today's guest article is from Soap. Soap is a nonbinary tech enthusiast who knows one or two things about gender. You can find them deep in cyberspace or connect with them on Instagram at @soap.png.
For the last three years, I’ve worn chest binders as a form of gender expression. Although I don’t bind every day, they're a handy tool in the arsenal for feelings of dysphoria and are a staple for many trans-masculine people.
There are a lot of options out there for binders, and I’ve tried on several as what I’m looking for in a binder has changed over time. I’ll be reviewing and comparing binders from three different brands: gc2b, Rebirth Garments, and Origami Customs. Hopefully, these binder reviews will give you a better idea of what to look for as well as some options to choose from.
Tips for Binding Safely
For those new to binding, I want to include some basic tips for how to do it safely. There isn’t much scientific research about the long term effects of binding, so make sure to listen to your body and bind responsibly.
It’s generally suggested to only bind up to 8 hours a day. Do not size down. Try to get a binder that fits snug but without restricting your breathing. Try not to bind every single day and don’t wear a binder to sleep. Your body needs a break. Bandages and tape are very restrictive and not recommended for binding.
The standard way to put on a binder is to pull it over your head, and tug it into place around your torso. The first time you wear a binder, it will likely be hard to get on and even a little tight. Most binders are made of stretchy material, so this feeling should go away after a few wears. If this feeling persists, consider sizing up.
If you’re interested in binding but aren’t sure if you want to invest in a binder, something you can try is wearing two sports bras on top of each other. This can mimic the effect of binding, and give you a better idea of what’s it’s like to wear an actual binder.
All this being said, binding can be very freeing. Safely binding is a very viable option for those looking to flatten their chest.
gc2b binders are simple, solid, and dependable. This was the first binder I ever bought, and it still holds up today. When I hear talk about binders, the two names that tend to come up first are gc2b and Underworks.
A brief note about Underworks - while I have heard good reviews about their binders, I prefer to go to trans-owned businesses for gender-affirming products. Also, the language on their site is very binary, with products separated “for men” and “for women.” For these reasons, I’ve always chosen other places to look for binders and will not be reviewing Underworks here.
gc2b is trans-owned and primarily focused on binders. They offer two main styles of binders, the half ($33 USD) and the tank ($35 USD). The half ends around the bottom of the ribcage, and the tank extends to the stomach area.
The outer layer is a stretchy nylon and spandex blend, with a stiffer inner layer made of cotton and polyester. As the inner layer is slightly rough, those with sensitive skin or sensory needs may want to keep this in mind. On the tank style, the inner binding layer ends around where the half style stops. During the writing of this article, the brand announced the launch of a new style with their Racerback collection. The length is similar to their half style, but with an “open, Y-shaped back.”
A notable feature of this brand is their All Nude line. It’s a range of five skintones in both half and tank styles.
The size range goes from XXS to 5XL. If you’re not sure what size to purchase, you can contact gc2b for a recommendation. If their suggestion isn’t the right fit, they will cover shipping costs for an exchange. As they do not offer custom sizing, orders are generally shipped very quickly after they are placed. Turnaround time is usually a few days. During busy periods, it can be up to one week.
gc2b binders are sturdy and dependable. I've owned my nude half binder, shown in shade Nude #4, for going on more than three years now, and it still holds up. It gets my chest very flat, while being fairly comfortable to wear. It’s straightforward to pull on over the head, and I find it does not need to be adjusted throughout the day.
The downside to GC2B binders is, because of their strap design, they can be hard to hide under shirts that do not have a high neckline. The new racerback style seems to be designed with this in mind, as it features smaller straps than their other designs. Also, because of the thicker under layer, I find myself wearing this binder less during the summer months purely for temperature reasons. The thicker fabric also means that the edges of the binder can be visible if wearing a thin shirt.
These two reasons combined are what lead me to start looking for strapless binder designs.
Rebirth Garments is owned by a queer and trans person. They create a wide range of colorful clothing and undergarments, for “people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability.” On their website, they have a form to accept custom orders. All listed products are highly customizable, and their binders are no exception.
All Rebirth orders are custom sized, with no size listings. While they do have many fabric and color options, they don’t currently carry any in a skin tone range.
I placed an order for their Customizable Simple Chest Binder ($26 USD), which is a strapless binder. The outer layer is a stretchy spandex, and with a slightly stiffer inner layer made of a nylon and spandex blend powernet. They offer different lengths as well as fits: tight bind, less tight bind, and sports bra. The current listed production time is 3-4 weeks.
I chose the short length (5 inches), the less tight bind, and a solid black fabric for a simple bandeau look.
As for wear, this binder is relatively straightforward to pull over the head and into place. I did find it slipped slightly lower on my body during the day, and I had to readjust it a couple times. Aside from that, it’s fairly comfortable to wear and is lighter than my GC2B binder.
If I were to reorder, I would choose a longer length as I found it just covered my chest. For those looking for more coverage or with a larger bust, I would recommend a longer length as well.
Origami Customs is owned by a queer and trans person. They specialize in gender-affirming wear, and offer a large range of undergarments, swimwear, and outerwear as well as custom orders. Their size range goes from XXS to 5XL, with custom sizing available for no additional cost. Origami Customs offers fabric customization as well, though their current skin tone selection is a little sparse.
I was drawn to them because of one particular feature on a binder they sell, namely the Side-Open Half Binder ($80 CAD, ~$61 USD). Sometimes the decision to bind or not in the morning comes down to if I have the energy to wrestle a binder over my head. I’m always interested in ways to make that easier. Binders are by definition tight to the skin, and it’s a common experience with a new binder to struggle to put it on for the first time.
Their side-open binder is secured with a row of hook-and-eye closures along one side so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the head. They also offer a strapless binder, and I reached out to Origami Customs through their custom orders page to see if they could add side clasps to the Mesh Strapless Binder ($38 CAD, ~$29 USD). The customization was an additional $10 CAD, about $7.50 USD
Rae, the owner, responded through email and was very accomodating. They were able to match me to a skin tone shade (shown in Bone) in their compression mesh fabric. As well, the closures on their listed side-open binders are black, but Rae was able to find and offer me a white closure instead to better suit the nude. Currently, the production time listed on their site is 3-6 weeks.
The mesh strapless binder is made from powermesh, a nylon and spandex blend. The outer and inner layer appear to be made out of the same fabric, and have the same elasticity. It’s listed on the site as offering “low to medium compression.”
Unfortunately, the side-open style was less convenient than I had hoped. I would recommend either fastening the clasps before pulling the binder over your head, or fastening it around your waist and pulling it up into place. Sometimes when putting the binder on, one of the clasps would come open and it can be difficult getting it back into place while wearing it. The design has the clasps resting directly on the skin, which I found to be uncomfortable.
While I really like the idea of a binder that doesn’t need to be pulled over the head, this particular binder wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.
In order from most to least compression, the GC2B half tank offers the most. The Rebirth Garments simple chest binder offers middling. And the Origami Customs mesh strapless binder offers the least. You can see how all the binders look under a t-shirt above.
I hope these binder reviews help shed some light on different binder types and styles, and their features. Happy binding!