Protesters hold pro-trans rights placards during the trans rights demonstration outside Downing Street. (Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty(
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that providing or carrying a chest binder is not a criminal offense after The Telegraph published a controversial article on the subject.
On Tuesday, September 27, The Telegraph published an article questioning whether wearing or providing a chest band – a common practice for some trans and non-binary people – could be considered child abuse.
The article referred to a page on the Metropolitan Police website on breast ironing, a practice widely seen as abusive and most commonly inflicted on young girls in parts of Africa.
In his article, The Telegraph quoted a college professor who questioned why breast fixation wasn’t considered child abuse when breast ironing was.
The Met issued a statement Thursday, September 29, clarifying that wearing or providing a chest binder is not a criminal offence. The force said it supports trans and gender diverse people who “freely choose” to wear a school bag.
‘Not a criminal offence’
“The provision of a chest band is not a criminal offence,” a Met spokesman said.
“The Met supports transgender and gender-diverse people who freely choose to wear a breast band.
“If an individual case concerning the practice of breast ironing, or the use of a breast band is reported to the police, it can be assessed in conjunction with social services. The same approach would be taken regardless of culture, religion or community to ensure the safety and well-being of the individual concerned.
They continued: ‘We would like to reassure anyone who chooses to wear a schoolbag is not committing a criminal offence.
Breast ironing very different from chest bandaging
According to the National Center for FGM, young girls are sometimes subjected to the practice of breast ironing in parts of Africa in an effort to prevent pregnancy and rape and to deter men from attracting unwanted attention.
“In some families, large stones, a hammer, or a spatula that have been heated over hot coals may be used to compress the breast tissue,” explains the National Center for FGM.
“Other families may use an elastic belt or a binder to squeeze the breasts to prevent them from getting bigger.”
This is echoed by Childline, who say breast ironing – or flattening, as it’s also known – is used to “flatten” the breasts to delay development.
The charity explicitly states on its website: “It’s different from choosing to bind your boobs.”
Childline says some young people use binders to hide parts of their bodies that make them feel uncomfortable. The children’s charity links readers to a gender identity section where they can access supports.
Binder attacks are “absurd”
Fury erupted when The Telegraph published an earlier article on the chest binding that concerned the sirens of the trans children’s charity.
This article claimed that Mermaids were giving workbooks to children behind their parents’ backs – the report was based on an email exchange between an adult claiming to be a 14-year-old trans boy and a member of staff at the charity.
This caused an outcry on social media from anti-trans activists, with many asking why wearing or providing a breast binder is not considered child abuse when breast ironing l ‘is.
Many have pointed out in response that the voluntary wearing of a breast band, which is completely safe when done correctly, is not the same as breast ironing – the latter practice is widely considered abusive and can cause long-term harm to a child.
The Telegraph then published his follow-up article in which he questioned whether providing or wearing a chest binder could be considered child abuse based on a page on the Met’s website.
This article has been called “absurdity” by the trans charity Gendered Intelligence.