Binding, Packing, Tucking & Padding

An overview of some do-it-yourself (or non-surgical) options for altering your gender expression.

What is binding?

Binding involves wearing tight clothing, bandages or compression garments to flatten out your chest.

Why do some people bind?

Binding is a do-it-yourself option for changing your appearance so that it matches your gender expression. Having a flat chest may help you feel more comfortable in your body. It may also help others read your gender.

What binding methods are commonly used?

There are many different ways to bind, and the best method for you will depend on your chest size and build. Whichever method you choose should allow you to breathe normally and feel comfortable when resting and moving. Here are some common methods:

  • layering of shirts – this involves wearing a tight-fitting undershirt with a slightly looser shirt on top, and perhaps a third, looser shirt on top of that
  • sports bras – tight-fitting sports bras made with lots of Lycra work well for some people. The material is made to be breathable
  • athletic compression shirts – many sports goods stores sell tight-fitting compression shirts made of spandex, Lycra, or other stretchy materials. These are breathable and can work well for people with minimal chest tissue
  • Neoprene waist and abdominal trimmers or back support devices – Neoprene is a thick, rubbery material that is relatively inexpensive and widely available in drug stores and large chain discount stores. It doesn’t breathe very well, but offers effective compression
  • chest binders and medical compression shirts – these binders look like tank-tops or t-shirts. They are quite effective at flattening a range of chest sizes. This is probably the most popular binding method, though it can be expensive and you’ll likely need to order these garments online


To clean a binder, follow the instructions that came with the garment. Generally speaking, hand washing is best. Avoid using bleach or putting it in the dryer, as these actions can cause the material to break down.

How do I bind safely?

Wrapping yourself with elastic bandages, duct tape or Saran Wrap is not a safe way to bind. These methods can restrict blood flow, make it hard to breathe, cause rashes and bruising and even break ribs. 

It’s also important to find a binder that’s the right size for you. Your binder is too tight if you are having difficulty breathing, are experiencing pain or your skin is wearing away in any spots. If this is the case, you can alter the binder to fit your body, get a bigger size or try another method.

Ideally, you’ll find a binder made of material that breathes. If your binder isn’t very breathable, you may get sores or rashes on your skin. This reaction can be minimized by applying body powder to your skin before binding. Another strategy is to wear a thin undershirt made of fabric that wicks away sweat underneath your binder.

Lastly, after getting out of the shower, make sure your skin is completely dry before putting on a binder.

How might binding affect my body?

We couldn’t find any research on the risks of binding. Anecdotally, we know that some discomfort is common with binding, especially after many hours of compression. The muscles in your back and shoulder might feel sore and your skin might feel irritated.

You may find that binding contributes to feeling quite warm in the summer months. Some conditions, such as asthma, may be made worse by binding.

Binding over a long period of time can reduce the elasticity of the skin on your chest. If you are planning on getting chest surgery, reduced skin elasticity may affect your surgical outcomes. Skin elasticity is one of the factors considered when choosing a technique for chest surgery. 


What is packing?

“Packing” is a term some people use to describe having a non-flesh penis (sometimes referred to as a packer or a prosthetic penis). Some people view their non-flesh penis as a part of their body and don’t consider themselves to be “packing.” Many folks refer to this part just as their penis, rather than as a packer or prosthetic penis. With this in mind, we will use the term non-flesh penis, unless it is necessary to use the terms packer or prosthetic penis for clarity.

Why might people have a non-flesh penis?

There are many reasons for having a non-flesh penis. You might like the way it feels. You might use it during sex. Maybe you want to be able to stand to pee. It might help you be read as your gender, particularly when swimming or using locker rooms.

What are my options?

If you are looking for an affordable, do-it-yourself option for creating a bulge in your pants, you can fill an unlubricated condom with hair gel, tie a knot at the end, and place another condom overtop. Place it in some tight briefs or boxer briefs.

If you want something that more closely resembles a typical cisgender penis, you can buy a packer in many sex stores or online. They come in a variety of sizes and skin tones, both cut and uncut. Some have testicles, some don’t. Some can be used for sexual penetration. Some can be used to stand and urinate. Most of them can be held in place by a jockstrap or harness, and others can be simply placed in tight-fitting underwear.

You can also buy a prosthetic penis, which is made to look and feel like a typical cisgender penis with testicles. It’s designed to be attached to your body with medical adhesive. Some models can be used for sexual penetration and/or urination while standing. Prosthetic penises tend to be quite a bit more expensive than packers.


To clean a packer or prosthetic penis, follow the cleaning instructions that came with the item.

Generally speaking, if the item is made of silicone, you can wash it with mild antibacterial soap and water, boil it for up to five minutes or put it in the top rack of the dishwasher.

If the item is made of rubber or Cyberskin, you can wash it with antibacterial soap and water. It’s not possible to sterilize an item made of these types of material because the material is too porous, so consider wearing a condom if you are using a rubber or Cyberskin packer or prosthetic penis for sex. This will drastically reduce your risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Are there any health risks associated with non-flesh penises?

We couldn’t find any research on the risks associated with non-flesh penises. Anecdotally, we know that some people experience skin irritation from the materials with which they are made. If you experience this problem, you can wear two pairs of underwear, with the penis in between them, to protect your skin. It may be useful to wear a non-lubricated condom, so the penis doesn’t rub directly against your leg.

Some people have allergic reactions to the medical adhesive used to attach a prosthetic penis to the body. You can apply a small amount of the adhesive to your skin to observe whether you have a negative reaction, before using enough to attach your penis.

If you are using your non-flesh penis for sex, wear a condom for safety – non-flesh penises can transmit HIV and other STIs from person to person.


What is tucking?

Tucking refers to the practice of hiding the penis* and testes* so they are not visible in tight clothing. There are many ways to tuck, such as pushing the penis* and testes* between your legs and then pulling on a pair of panties, to tucking the testes* inside of you.

Why do people tuck?

People tuck for many different reasons. You might tuck in order to feel more at ease in your body, to feel more comfortable in your clothing or to facilitate being read by others as your gender.

How do I tuck?

If you just want to tuck your testes* and penis* between your legs, the arrangement can be held in place with tight panties made from materials like firm spandex, Lycra, or microfibre.

Some people prefer to tuck their testes* inside of themselves. The goal here is to gently push the testes* into the inguinal canals. There is an opening to the inguinal canal at the base of each testicle*. The opening has about the same diameter as a finger, though it can stretch.

Using two or three fingers, gently lift each testicle* up into the scrotum* and through the corresponding inguinal ring. Go slow and trust your body. This process can take time. You can do one testicle* at a time or both at the same time. Some people find it helpful to get in a tub of cold water before tucking. You shouldn’t feel overly uncomfortable. Be sure to take a break between tucking attempts. If you feel faint, nauseous, or in pain, it may be important for you to consider whether or not to continue attempting after taking a break, or stopping until another time when you would like to try again.

Once the testes* are tucked, some people tuck the scrotum* as well. Others wrap the scrotum* around the penis* and secure it there with tape. After taping, keep a hand firmly over the base of your genitals to prevent anything from slipping back out.

Then the penis* can be pulled back between your legs and everything can be held in place with tight panties, tape or a gaff (a garment that flattens the lower part of your body).

If you plan to use tape, you might want to use medical tape – it is safer than duct tape because it breathes better and is easier to remove. Removing the tape may be more comfortable if you shave your pubic hair first before taping. If you are having difficulty removing the tape, it might help to soak the area in warm water.

Is tucking safe?

We were unable to find any research on the risks associated with tucking. Anecdotally, some people have reported pulling or tearing sensitive tissues in their genital region during tucking. This confirms the importance of going slow and listening to your body. Medical supply stores carry medical remover which may be helpful for removing buildup from tape. If you have concerns about the safety of tucking for you, talk to a health care professional.


What is padding?

Padding refers to the use of undergarments to create the appearance of larger breasts, hips or buttocks.

Why do people pad?

Padding may help you feel more comfortable in your body. It may help you be read as your gender. It may also improve the way your clothing fits you.

Compared to surgical options for creating larger breasts, hips and buttocks, padding is cheap and painless.

Padding is also a much safer alternative to using silicone injections. Injecting silicone into the buttocks or face has a high rate of serious complications including severe scarring, injuries to the brain or spinal cord, pulmonary disease, breathing disorders and even death.

What items help with padding?

Many products can assist with padding, including:

  • padded panties – these are especially useful for making your hips look wider and your buttocks more full
  • breast forms – these are made of soft silicone gel and either adhere to your body or are placed in your bra. They are available in different shapes, sizes and skin colours. Some have nipples and some do not
  • bras with pockets – these are also referred to as mastectomy bras; they are designed to accommodate breast forms
  • padded bras – these may be preferable if you have some breast growth but want your breasts to appear larger


To clean padded panties, bras, and breast forms, follow the instructions that came with the item. Generally, hand-wash bras and panties or use the gentle cycle of the washing machine. Hang to dry.

Sweat can cause breast forms to break down, so it’s a good idea to wash them with warm water and soap after use.


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