A university student has designed a new chest binder for the transgender community which is being hailed as a significant improvement on current designs.
Chest binders are increasingly popular among the transgender community, which are used to flatten breasts using a tight garment to make the chest appear more masculine. They have been proven to provide mental health benefits for people who use them.
The product called Breathe has been designed by Miles Kilburn, a final-year design student at Loughborough University.
Miles was concerned at the number of people reverting to DIY chest binders such as duct tape, plastic wrap and bandages, which can often result in significant physical impacts when used over time, including back and chest pain.
Breathe is a garment made with smart materials woven through the fabric that enables the user to take breaks throughout the day without removing their clothing and needing to go to a private space.
The binder includes a smart alloy called Nitonel, which when electrified, decompresses the garment and loosens the binder.
Miles hopes the product will soon become an alternative form of treatment for transgender people on the NHS. Miles 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 – which is the removal of your breasts – 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.
The product has also been showcased as part of the University’s annual Design Degree Show.