New York Times reports on risks of breast binding

Stretched earlobes, shrunken breasts. Image from NYT article.

Media coverage of the transgender movement overwhelmingly skews to focus on males, even though ‘TRANS WOMEN ARE (purportedly) WOMEN!’

One might imagine that the typical overrepresentation of default male perspective would be reversed in reporting on the Gender Identity movement whose adherents demand social recognition as the other sex, but that isn’t the case. In the world of transgender, just like the real world, prostate-bearers are heard more than uterus-havers, who have to fight for recognition regardless of their inner sense of themselves as male, or their legal status as male, or what have you.

There isn’t much media coverage of women who identify as transmen, or increasingly, as “transmasculine”: a neologism that reflects the genderist belief that clitoris-weilders have certain appropriate traits called femininity and if they don’t, they must be crossing over into penis-brandisher territory or at least a separate category.

Fourth Estate coverage of the “men” of the Gender Identity movement, when it occurs, generally follows two templates. First is the well-worn Chrysalis Narrative/ Ugly Duckling/ Heroic Journey tradition whereby one overcomes malaise and becomes their TRUE SELF via various precarious routes to reinvention through the capitalist miracle of affirming grooming practices, wardrobe updates, pharmacology consumption and/or cosmetic surgery. This is a super popular angle because it conforms to advertising norms in general, in whose interest all media exists. This is the number one framing of all transgender news outlet coverage regardless of sex. This narrative is as old as human history. The other news template for transmen is the spectacle of the unlikely “pregnant man”. That women gestate and bear offspring is not newsworthy, but if a man could do so it would be quite. These “pregnant man” stories serve as clickbait by troubling the impossible, another current iteration of an ancient paradigm (see the myth of Zeus/Athena or Jesus). Note that the equivalent stories about women who impregnate are entirely absent in myth, and also in media coverage of transwomen.

So it is notable that the New York Times (or anyone) featured a story about transmen that focused on female members of the transgender community yet bypassed either of these tropes. In an extraordinarily neutral piece, Amy Sohn reported on the practice of breast binding by female members of the Gender Identity community. You can read it here:

Interestingly, many members of the Gender Identity community did not like a neutral gaze cast upon the transmale subculture:

Female teens who do not bind their breasts=sexual “fuckable” objects

12 thoughts on “New York Times reports on risks of breast binding

  1. You know what’s really bizarre about all this? The mindset that teen girls should modify their body to keep from being seen as a ‘fuckable object.’ Isn’t that the same argument religionists use to reinforce ‘modest clothing’? Why does it not occur to these people that maybe changing the mindset that sees women as a thing to fucked is a better route than telling girls that their bodies are somehow at fault?

    I’m so glad people are starting to look at this in reasonable terms that shines light on the facts about ‘transitioning.’ It’s on the same self-harm continuum we’ve seen for generations. Girls don’t like being seen as fuckable or they respond to trauma by hurting themselves because this culture teachers girls that they’re always at fault.

    1. Yup. The idea that UNLESS you bind your breasts you are a f.o. (sorry, can’t really write that one out without throwing up in my mouth a little) is the monstrous underlying mess.

  2. Trans women vigorously promote the idea that the penis can be feminine or even female, yet trans men won’t even use the word “breast.” To be an “ally” one must embrace the feminine penis and replace “breast” with “chest.” There is no symmetry here.

    1. That is a very interesting point. Men who identify as transwomen love their “girl cocks”. Monica Roberts refers to his dick as a “six inch neo-clitoris”. Roz Kaveney insists that trans penis is “not male” (and gets very upset when women find that humorous):

      Where are the women of the Gender Identity movement who insist they have manginas? boy clits? double-d neo-pectorals? Hmmm…

    2. Also “front-hole” as the FtT like to say. The language-policing is one of the most insidious aspects of the whole T thing. And there are so many.

  3. First, delighted to see you back online! Really, really missed you!

    Second, the photo you ran at the top of the essay reminded me of the commenter on Feminist Current who insisted that TIFs “always pass.” I’ve seen a lot of males in my 65 years and have yet to see one who looked like the young woman in the photo, and that includes the feminine-looking males.

    1. That’s me! I don’t have a specific gender identity and I’m not trying to “pass” as anything other than myself. This was a modeling shoot for a binder company and I was happy to do it. They asked me to model to show anyone can wear these – the shoot wasn’t just transmen, but also included butch lesbians and non-binary folk. This photo is almost 4 yrs old – and I had no idea I was even in the New York Times (wow!). I hope all of you find peace enough in yourselves to learn to mind your own business (fat chance tho considering you frequent this pointless and hateful website – I found this link on Pintrest of all places).

    2. Im also going to add I was 31 in that picture… so being used as an example for “teens” is… uhh… flattering as hell!!

  4. Fix and cover and hobble and chop ourselves up to look sexy for men; fix and cover and hobble and chop ourselves up to stop being sexualised by men; put on veils and burqas and ankle-length restrictive dresses so as not to sexually excite men. The onus is always on us. The problem is the MEN.

  5. I heard a trans couple refer to breasts as chesticles. Testicles on the chest?

    And a double mastectomy as “yeets the teets”.

    Not sure why doctors don’t get the women to preserve their breasts so that the tissues can be used for palloplasty, instead of trying large pieces of skin off their fore arms and thighs. Women have become disabled from these surgeries.

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