Success Story: Bind Safe

Photo: Bec Taggart

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We had a chance to catch up with another one of our many amazing 2020 Rainbow Grant recipients, Get REAL‘s Bind Safe! Check out our interview below:

Could you tell us a little about the initiative your 2020 Rainbow Grant has supported?

The initiative that was made possible by the Community One Foundation with a 2020 Rainbow Grant was “Bind Safe”, which is an educational video series, downloadable PDF, and online resource hub to share education surrounding safe binding practices, video content aimed at destigmatizing the practice itself, and additional resources where both youth and parents can seek support.

Was there a particular thing that sparked this idea/initiative?

One of our Get REAL community members Kyra Shenker, approached us about the lack of resources or information about binding, which so often leads to individuals both practicing unsafe binding and also feeling stigma about the practice itself.

Kyra, who is non-binary, also recounted their own experience with medical professionals who were not themselves sufficiently informed or equipped to provide proper guidance around binding, at a time when they could have used that type of support.

Through conducting additional research and interviews, we found there was a clear gap with respect to the amount of individuals who will attempt to bind in their lives, and the accessible education that exists with respect to safe binding practices. Our research also confirmed our concerns that this lack of knowledge can have serious implications for both the mental and physical health of those individuals who are not getting the proper information and are therefore not practicing safe binding.

Bind Safe team – Kyra (left), Marley (top), Chris (right), and Bec (middle). Photo: Bec Taggart

What was your goal in making this initiative happen?

We set out to provide a resource hub to fill this gap. The hub – which will be housed at as soon as finishing touches are ready – will contain 9 educational videos, a downloadable PDF, and additional links to resources relating to binding and binders.

The goal of the content we created is threefold:

  1. To combat stigma and showcase diversity in those who bind; four of the videos feature real stories from five diverse individuals
  2. To provide insights and support from the medical community about safe binding as an option; three of our videos feature doctors speaking about their experiences treating patients who bind and advocating for more focus given to trans health care, which is often overlooked within the medical community, and
  3. To provide basic tips, guidance, and education relating to binders, and binding itself; our final video is a tutorial video, complimented by our educational PDF

We worked hard to make sure our website, PDF, and videos were all clear and easy to navigate, responsible in the advice that they contain, and honest and heartfelt; content we are confident will resonate with youth and parents alike (and hopefully, some members of the medical community as well). We are proud of the work we have achieved thus far as a team, and can’t wait to release this month!

Many organizations have been faced with a set of new challenges, due to COVID-19. How is your team adapting?

While we were able to adjust the bulk of our work – our promotional photoshoot (which we used to announce the launch and also the casting for the videos), our filming days, our PDF design, etc. – to accommodate safe social distance and COVID-19 guidelines, we did encounter a challenge in the editing process. Because our go-to videographer, who typically works consistently as a freelance photographer and videographer, was out of work for months when lockdown first hit. Because of this, she had to take the first full-time film job that came her way when things began to go back to work in the film industry, and the timing of that job was right as we were about to begin shooting and editing. She still worked hard to make our shoot days work – shifting to weekend days so she could work during the week – but that meant we had to take on all of the editing ourselves, which slowed down the process significantly (although we did get some much appreciated in-kind support in terms of captioning, and website layout, from Hasbro’s “Day of Joy” initiative!). Despite the challenges, we pushed through as a team, and are at a point where we are almost ready to launch the entire project, and we are so excited. It took more work than we anticipated initially, but it was so worth it in the end!

What has the response/impact been like so far?

The response to this project has been extremely positive and heartening, right from the outset, when we posted the launch on social media, along with our casting call. While we have limited feedback to share at present, as we have not yet officially launched, I’ve included some of the casting emails just to provide a snapshot of the positive reaction and reinforcement of the need for this type of resource hub.

“First of all, LOVE that you’re doing this I would be thrilled to be a part of it…I am a plus-sized 28 year old non-binary person.I come from a very rural town in Labrador so learning about binding safety or even just language around gender/sexuality all happened via the internet or trial and error. I’ve binded for about 5 years now and wear full length underworks binders. I’ve had decent back and shoulder injuries usually from binding while being active.”

“My name is Ben Skinner, and I’m an AFAB, trans/non-binary POC (multiracial: Filipino + Mi’kmaq + White) living in Ontario. I have not gotten top surgery yet so I use a combination of binding and taping to live my everyday life. My partner recently showed me your casting call on Instagram and I would be honoured to be featured in your educational video series or to help in any way possible. Education about and specifically FOR trans people is very, very important to me.”

“I’m not sure what kind of information you’re looking for, but a little about me: I’m 29, non-binary, having been binding for several years, and have experience with several kinds of binders and TransTape. I’m also not a Person of Colour and really appreciate your dedication to prioritizing the voices and experiences of POC in the 2SLGBTQ+ fam. Regardless of my participation, I think it’s a really great thing you and Get Real are doing, so thank you.”

“I don’t bind anymore, after 12 years of daily binding I was able to access top surgery about 2 years ago. It’s been a mixed journey for me to have chronic nerve pain as a result of my gender affirming care. I am certain I will never forget the first time I put on a real binder, I remember binding with ace bandages, and the time I went camping in a cis dominant space when my midnight shivering tightened the elastic until I woke up with a fractured rib. I regularly wore my proper binders for 12-16 hours/day and am still learning all of the ways it has impacted my body and movement. You are doing such important work

How do you see this project evolving into 2021?

We will be rolling out “Bind Safe” in January 2021 and continuing to get it out to as many people as possible. Beyond that, we have a few other iterations of “Bind Safe” that we are hoping for, but for the time being, the focus is on an effective launch across all of our social channels, and getting the resource seen by as many people as possible.

Is there any other projects coming up that you’d like to share with our supporters?

We’re currently developing another educational video project, extending our Virtual Counselling for 2SLGBTQ+ Youth, and training more speakers for our Anti-Racism, Inclusivity, and Mental Health-focused workshops for high schools and middle schools across Canada.

Stay tuned for more Community One Foundation Success Story interviews coming soon!