Remember, how you present is up to you. You can present in a manner that society deems feminine or masculine regardless of your gender, or at any place along the gender spectrum. How you choose to express your gender identity is up to you. Being able to conform to the expectations of your gender has social advantages, though this is not accessible to everyone. Often trans identified people are misgendered by others, or not “seen” as their gender. This can be very hurtful and can take a toll on a person’s mental health. If a person is feeling invalidated due to being misgendered, they can seek support from people within their community or mental health specialists. Your gender is always valid, and educating people to respect your gender should be the first priority of the supports you use for these issues. 

Many trans and gender-nonconforming people do want to change how they appear, in terms of physical appearance, in part for their own comfort and in part for how they want to be seen by others. It does not mean that you won’t get misgendered, but it can help. It is not always accessible or feasible to make these changes, and it can be hard to balance acceptance with yourself and validating who you are through change. Remember, presentation should be what makes you feel the safest and most affirmed.  

Appendix B lists some websites that provide useful tips for presentation in your gender.  Consider overall presentation – a combination of clothing, hair style, mannerisms, and their gendered relationships, as well as well as other skills. Access to these things that may have been denied to you in your assigned gender may help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and help others to see you for who you are. Do your best to appear confident. Who you are is valid, and the more you accept that validity, the more others will too. It isn’t always easy to do so, especially on your own, and support groups are there to help. You are not alone, you and your feelings are valid, and this document exists to help you on your journey. Do what you can, and never be afraid to ask for help. 

A list of local businesses where you can find products and services for your gender presentation needs is provided in Appendix B.  All of these stores have been recommended by trans people, either because they are expressly trans-friendly or because they sell items that may be important for many trans people and hard to find or expensive to purchase.  

What Are Chest Binders?

Chest Binders are compression undergarments designed to compress a person’s chest, and is an approach used to minimize the appearance of a person’s breasts. Some transgender men or gender-nonconforming individuals use binders to bind the breasts to the body, creating a flatter chest. People most often wear their binder underneath their everyday clothes, while some people may wear their binder as a shirt in and of itself.

People bind for many reasons: binding can be part of one’s gender transition, gender play, or as part of post ‘top’ surgery recovery.

A typical binder is not only very tight but usually made of durable nylon and spandex — making them notoriously uncomfortable to wear.

Chest binding is a way for many trans men to curb dysphoria, and is a fairly common step in Female to Male (FTM) transition.

How Do I Chest Bind Properly?

While binding with common household items is an inexpensive route, it can also be unsafe.

Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape—they aren’t meant for binding, don’t move with your body, and can cause physical harm. They can seriously restrict breathing, cause fluid build-up in your lungs and other serious injuries, such as broken ribs. There have been numerous cases of trans men who’ve acquired permanent scars and other injuries from using Ace bandages or duct tape to bind. Don’t do it.

Don’t buy a binder that’s too small for you. Wearing an ill-fitting binder puts you at risk of the same problems as those who bind with Ace bandages or duct tape. Another piece of bad advice floating around out there is to wear tape and/or another binder on top of your binder. This too can cause restricted breathing and physical injury.

Don’t bind for more than 8-12 hours at a time. Suppressing dysphoria can’t come at the expense of your health. Even high quality binders can cause bruising. Use the times that you’re not binding to wash and air dry your binder, which will help make it last longer.

How Do I wash my binder? – Binders should always be hand-washed or machine-washed in cold water (on the gentle cycle), and hung to dry. Your binder will last longer if you don’t wash your binder in hot water, as it will cause the nylon to wear out prematurely. If you do find that your chest binder has stretched, a quick spin in the dryer should help to restore its shape.

Don’t bind while you sleep or while you are feeling a bit under the weather. If you’re going to be sitting on an airplane for several hours or hit the gym, you should take extra precautions to ensure you’re comfortable. Try wearing a stretched-out binder, a looser binder, or a sports bra and baggy t-shirt.

Check in with yourself each day after taking your binder off. How does your skin look and feel? Are you staying well-hydrated and stretching? It’s important to note any changes that could be a sign that your binder is too tight or that you’re wearing it for too long.

How to put your binder on? – While the traditional way of putting on a binder is by pulling it overhead, some who are new to binding (and even folks who have been at it for awhile) find it helpful to step into their chest binder to put it on. This means that you can hold onto the shoulder straps and step into the neck opening of the binder, pulling the binder up. From there, put each arm through its respective armhole, and adjust the binder as needed.

How do I choose the right size for a binder?

We know that finding a chest binder that works can be challenging, as every company offers sizes that are slightly different, just as each individual ‘s size is  slightly different.

If you still remember your old bra size, you can find out your binder size by using the Bra to Chest Size Converter Tool. If you don’t know your old bra size, you can measure yourself the old-fashioned way:

  1. Take a snug measurement of the fullest part of your chest using a tape measure (best if measured while clothed) and write that number down onto a sheet of paper.
  2. Measure underneath your chest where the crease is and write that number down as well.
  3. Add those numbers together and divide the sum by 2. This number will differentiate your size not only from brand to brand but from binder to binder as well.

Try on the binder size that’s the closest fit based on the measurement you obtained. If you find that you are between sizes, sizing up is likely your best bet. The binder should provide adequate compression, with a little room to breathe. This will take some trial and error, so be patient with yourself.

While some folks choose to go down a size in order to try and achieve a flatter look, this usually ends up being too constrictive. Stick with a binder size that fits snugly and provides a decent amount of compression- without being overly constrictive- in order to help minimize some of the challenges like lung compression or back pain that can come with binding.

Binders come in two main styles. This includes full length, which extends over the stomach, and shorter tri-tops, which only extend to right under the breasts.

Chest Binding Tips

  • You may need to layer clothing on top of the binder to get optimal chest flattening.
  • You can swim in your binder. Just wear a sleeveless or sleeved T-shirt over it. Don’t worry if your binder seems less effective after a swim, this isn’t permanent. Simply wash it and it will go back to normal.
  • Your chest will look bigger than it really is when you look down at it. Use a mirror for a more accurate side view.
  • Not all binders breathe well, and the reality is that you’re probably going to get hot. If you’ve already started testosterone, you’re definitely going to sweat. The build up of sweat can irritate your skin causing rashes and sores. Wearing a thin cotton shirt that breathes well underneath your binder may help prevent this. If you find this uncomfortable, try applying corn starch to your body before putting on your binder to help keep it from holding in moisture. If you’ve already experienced skin irritation of some sort, take care of it the same way you would an open wound. Washing the irritated area with anti-bacterial soap will keep it clean and help it heal faster.

Where Can I get a Chest Binder?

There is a large variety of companies and websites where you can acquire a new binder. Take time to look at their reviews, and see the difference in terms of their sizing and colours.

GenderGear is a worker-owned co-operative located since 1997 in Ontario, Canada. Owned-and-operated by trans and gender variant folks, they work to make finding gender gear simple, easy, and affordable.

Underworks binders are among the most popular with transgender men because of their effectiveness and affordability. Underworks is trans-friendly and has a reputation for excellent customer service. Stick to the binders that have “extreme” in the name or description as a binder without this label may not give you the compression you hoped for unless you have a very small chest already. Prices range from $25-45 USD.

gc2b Transitional Apparel provides high quality FTM chest binders at an affordable price, $33-35. In addition to white, black and grey, as well as red, blue and green, gc2b also offers binders in five “All Nude” colours.

Design Veronique has been designing high quality compression garments since 1986 and is the choice of several US-based surgeons. However, higher prices in the $100-180 USD range, and a lack of information about if these products are durable enough for long term use call into question their suitability for daily chest binding.

You can Also access used Binders from Come As You Are’s Binder Recycling Program from previous individuals who had transitioned.

What Is A Packer?

A packer is a term for any object that is used to create a bulge in a person’s pants to emulate the look and feel of a penis.

The type of packer you use is up to you! Some prosthetic packers are very realistic and detailed, whereas others are less complex and simply retain the shape of a penis. Many individuals may choose to make their own packers too, and find that using common household objects like socks, neckties, or gel-filled condoms work well for their needs.

Often times people pack in different ways depending on the circumstance. “Soft packing” refers to having a packer that emulates a flaccid penis, whereas “hard packing” refers to emulating an erect penis that can often be used for sexual activities. There are also a variety of packing devices that allow individuals the ability to pee while standing!

Why Do People Pack?

Although anyone can use a packer, they are most commonly used by people without a penis. This includes trans men, drag kings, genderqueer or gender nonconforming people, or anyone who enjoys exploring gender. Packers are sometimes worn for sexual purposes, sometimes simply for gender expression, and sometimes for both. Additionally, some people pack every day while others only do it occasionally. Packing is a way for many trans folks to curb dysphoria, and is a fairly common step in Female to Male (FTM) transition.

How Do I Pack?

Once you have a packer, you’ll want to figure out what you want to secure it in. Many individuals choose to wear tight boxers or briefs to keep their packer in place, while other people use a packing harness.

Secondly, you’ll want to decide how visible you’ll want your packer to be. If you want a more noticeable bulge try wearing your packer higher up on your pelvic bone. If you are looking to minimize the bulge your packer creates, position the packer lower on your pelvic bone and closer to your inner thighs.

Packing Tips

Don’t be afraid to start small and then work your way up. The average size of a flaccid penis is about 3.5”. Play around with different sized packers and find the size that you feel comfortable with your your body and what you’re wearing.

If you’re making your own packer out of socks or a necktie, try safety pinning your packer to your underwear. Sometimes it may be easy to forget you’re wearing a packer when you go to change or use the washroom, and a safety pin can keep your packer from falling out of your underwear and onto the floor.

Where Can I Get A Packer?

Here are a few websites to get a packer!
An online store with a variety of binders, packers and other gender inclusive items.

Peecock Products
Online store with a variety of gender affirming products.

The Tool Shed
An erotic online boutique with a variety of binders, packers, and sex positive toys.

What is a Stand To Pee (STP) Product?

An STP is a device that enables the user to stand to pee in public washrooms or in the privacy of their own home! Some folks find that being able to use public urinals without detection (‘passing’) is integral to their identity or safety, and some just like the convenience of easily being able to urinate while standing.

How Do I Use A STP?

Regardless of the device you choose, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with your new gear before making your public debut. For a lot of folks, this means bringing their STP into the shower and seeing how everything works! Next, while you’re still at home or somewhere private, try using your STP (and any extra supports you might be using- like straps or harnesses) to urinate into the toilet while standing. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve got a good seal – this can be achieved by cradling the STP against the body when urinating. Further, you’ll want to learn how to control the flow of your urine, to avoid overflows! Be patient and practice– these skills will be critical when you’re in a urinal without backup pants!

How Do I Care For My STP?

The best way to care for your STP is to ensure you wash your STP regularly with mild soap and water, and allow it to air dry. If you’d like to sanitize a silicone STP, you can boil it for a few minutes. However, each STP is different so it’s always best to follow the care instructions given upon purchasing your STP.

Where Can I Get A STP?

A few websites we recommend for STPs are listed below!
An online store with a variety of binders, packers and other gender inclusive items.

Peecock Products
Online store with a variety of stand to pee options and other gender affirming products.

The Tool Shed
An erotic online boutique with a variety of binders, packers, and sex positive toys.

What Are Packing Straps, STP Straps, Harnesses & Pouches?

Some individuals find that tucking their packer into tight underwear works well for them, but others want their packer to feel more secure. Packing straps, STP straps, harnesses, and pouches are supportive items that can be worn for the purpose of securing a packer to the body.

Packing straps, harnesses, and pouches all come in a variety of different sizes, designs, and styles. They all work a little bit differently, so don’t be afraid to look around and experiment with what works best for you.

How Do I Wear A Strap, Harness, Or Pouch?

When getting familiar with you packer, it’s a good idea to get familiar with how it looks, moves, and feels before heading out into public. Consider the length of time you plan on packing over the course of a day, and try it out in private! Stand, sit, bend down, jump around, lie on the couch, and see how everything moves and feels to ensure your packer stays secure.

If you decide to pack with a packing strap or harness, simply secure your packer inside the product, confirm it’s secure, and you’re ready to put on your packing strap or harness! Alternatively, if you’re packing with a packing pouch, simply place the packer inside the pouch, confirm it’s secure, and, pin to the clothing of your choice!

Where Can I Get Straps, Harnesses & Pouches?

You can usually find straps, harnesses & pouches anywhere you can buy packers. Some websites include:
An online store with a variety of binders, packers and other gender inclusive items.

Peecock Products
Online store with a variety of gender affirming products.

The Tool Shed
An erotic online boutique with a variety of binders, packers, and sex positive toys.

What Are Breast Forms?

Breast forms are used to emulate the look, feel, and/or appearance of breasts. Just as all breasts are different, breast forms are all different too! You can find breast forms in a variety of different weights, shapes, sizes, colours, and densities.

How Do I Use Breast Forms?

Many breast forms can be slid into a regular bra, slipped into the panels of a specific breast form bra, or attached to your skin with adhesive tape.

Where Can I Get Breast Forms?

Here are a few websites to look at for getting breast forms!

The Breast Form Store
An online mail-order service located in Richmond, B.C. which specializes in breast forms at decent prices, as well as pocketed bras.
Phone: 1-877-634-7495
An online store with a variety of gaffs, breast forms, bras, and other gender inclusive items.

Walk on the Wildside
A Canadian online store specializing in products for transwomen and crossdressing.
Phone: 416-921-6112

What Is A Dilator?

A dilator is any device designed to help relieve pain, maintain elasticity post-vaginoplasty, or assist in focusing on pelvic floor muscles during exercise.

How Do I Choose A Dilator?

It is always best to choose smooth medical-grade dilators. Your surgeon will likely recommend a starting dilator size if you’ve had a vaginoplasty, and then you may be instructed to work up to a larger dilator size as time goes on.

How To Use A Dilator?

Many people will need to use a dilator multiple times a day, every day, in order to maintain the depth and elasticity they’ve achieved with surgery. Often, after a certain number of weeks or months have passed, the frequency of dilation will decrease, but most people who have had surgery will need to do some form of dilation on a weekly basis for the rest of their lives.

Always follow your surgeon’s protocol with regards to dilator size, as well as frequency and length of time spent dilating. It is also recommend to use a good quality water-based lubricant with your dilator, in order to make the process as comfortable as possible.

Care & Cleaning

Follow the care instructions that come with the dilator set you choose!

Where Can I Buy Dilators?

You may be provided with dilators after your surgery, but you can also find dilators online.
An online store with a variety of gaffs, breast forms, bras, and other gender inclusive items.

What Is A Pump?

A pump (in combination with a cylinder or cup) is a device that is used to create a vacuum and pull blood to the surface of the skin. This vacuum causes blood to engorge the tissue being pumped and become erect. Some individuals may use a pump in combination with hormones to facilitate breast tissue growth. Other folks may use a pump on their penis (either pre or post operation) to temporarily change the shape and length of their genitals. There are tons of different styles of pumps with different sized cups and cylinders to meet the needs of the individual that’s using it.

How To Choose A Pump?

When choosing a pump it’s all about looking at what would best suit your needs. Some pumps have a pressure gauge, some come with different sized cups and cylinders, and some allow you to pump more than one area at once.

How To Choose A Cylinder Or Cup Size?

Before choosing a cylinder or cup to pump, you need to evaluate what part of your body you will be pumping. You want to choose a cylinder/cup that’s big enough to allow room for the tissue to engorge without pressing up against the inside of the cylinder, but you don’t want tons of excess space.

How To Use A Pump?

The key things to remember when using a pump is to create a good suction and go slow! When you begin pumping you should find the area darkens and begins to rise with pressure. It is recommended that no pump is left on your skin for more than a half an hour, and you should always be ready to remove the pump if you experience extreme pain, bruising, or blistering.

Where To Buy A Pump?

You can find pumps online at a variety of trans specific and sex outlets online.
Here are some places to get a pump online!
An online store with a variety of gender affirming items including pumps.

You can find a great list of different retailers to purchase gender gear on our website here!

One of our personal favourites that is very all encompassing is, but if you have any other websites you prefer to use for your gender gear needs that’s awesome too!

Warning: Topics of safety/discrimination issues trans people can face, may be difficult to read. 

It is important to always keep your safety in mind, as safer spaces are not everywhere. Being aware and conscious of spaces that are more inclusive and safer can be vital. Talking to support groups about travel strategies, finding places with gender neutral washrooms (or going into the washroom you feel the most safe and comfortable in), and being aware of certain areas that may be less safe, are just some of many strategies trans people can use to be safe. Trans women in particular, can be at risk of violence from strangers or from dates, if your status as a trans woman is discovered. TSRoadmap has some very good advice concerning safety.  

Also, remember this important tidbit: breathe. It can be a daunting task to make sure you’re safe, and it’s an unfortunate reality that can put one on edge. But, you are valid. Take some time to remember that, and breathe. It might be tough, and the anxiety of dealing with this can be very real. But you matter, and are important. 

Trans people may encounter situations of discrimination or harassment due to their gender identity or gender expression, e.g., being prohibited from using an appropriate washroom facility, or being denied rental housing. It is important to know that the Alberta Human Rights Act now includes protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression.  

For more information on human rights protection in Alberta click here.

More detailed information on human rights and the process for making a complaint under the Alberta Human Rights Act may be found here.   

This site also provides contact information so individuals can speak directly with a human rights officer to discuss their situation and decide if they want to make a complaint through the Human Rights Commission.