Health center offers to secretly send chest binders to girls so parents can't see

Young people are assured that the dangerous chest compression device will be “mailed discreetly” to their home or a safe location for pick up.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

An LGBTQ+ youth program in Yolo County, California is offering to ship free chest compression devices to teenage girls and young women in discreet packaging to ensure their parents remain in the dark.

The Elevate Queer Yolo is funded by CommuniCare Health Centers and is aimed at youth aged 12-26. The Free Binder Project promoted on the group’s Instagram page is available to all youth age 12-26 who identify as LGBTQ+ and live within 90 miles of Yolo County.

Young people are assured that the dangerous chest compression device will be “mailed discreetly” to their home or a safe location for pick up.

“Wow. We are so excited about the response to our gender-affirming shopping spree and free binder project,” says the Elevate Queer Yolo Instagram post. “This shows how important and live-changing (sic) gender expression is for folks across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.”

Numerous studies have shown breast binders to be harmful, with one showing that 97 percent of adult wearers experienced one or more negative effects such as pain, muscle wasting, spine changes, rib fractures, headaches, and respiratory issues. Another found a similar array of negative effects and showed that some of these health issues do not show up for years. 

However, no studies have been done on minors due to ethical concerns.

It is not uncommon for organizations to provide gender-confused teenage girls and young women with these potentially harmful devices behind the backs of parents.

Last year it was revealed that a staff member at the UK trans charity Mermaids had offered to send a binder to an undercover investigative journalist posing as a 14-year-old girl in the charity’s online chat forum. This revelation, as well as other serious accusations of staff members giving out inaccurate medical advice in the forum, led to The Charity Commission launching a formal investigation into the group.

Charities and nonprofit organizations in many countries offer similar schemes. Point of Pride in Oregon provides free “chest binders to trans people who cannot otherwise afford or safely obtain them” and the Flamingo Market in Toronto offers the same service with its BindersOUT scheme. These are just two of many.

Many schools and libraries across the US have “transition closets” where adolescents can access binders and transition-related gear at school thereby enabling them to keep their social transition a secret from their parents.

A Maine school district made headlines last year when a social worker allegedly gave a 13-year-old a binder without her parents’ knowledge or consent, causing the parents to threaten legal action.

It was recently revealed that experts at St. Louis Children’s Hospital gender clinic advised a Missouri school district to withhold information about students binding their breasts from parents. The Transgender Center at St. Louis is now under formal investigation after a bombshell whistleblower article made serious allegations of malpractice and abuse at the clinic.


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