Ask Gabriel: Choosing Names and Binders

Ask Gabriel is an advice column series where you can get your questions answered about being transgender, coming out, changing your name, hormones, sexuality, representation, dating, etc. These are questions that have been submitted to me by transgender and nonbinary people! You can read my last column here.

Hi Gabriel,

I’ve been wearing a binding since I was 17. I’m 28 now and it worries me to wear long-term. Any suggestions or sites that sell bindings for a decent price ? I’ve thought about top surgery as well, but nothing beyond that. Any insight works. – Anonymous

It would depend on what you mean by decent price. Budget friendly? I would recommend either GC2b or Underworks for a binder. I personally used GC2b as their binders are more comfortable but I find that Underworks is better for those with bigger chests.

Hi Gabriel,

I identify as nonbinary. I go to a university and I want to start an educational project for people to understand nonbinary folx. I also want to start a group for nonbinary students on campus. I’m not too sure on how to go about doing so however. Can you please give me some tips on how I can carry out those projects/ what I should do? I would appreciate this so much!! – Skyler

To start a support group, you’ll need to go through the proper channels at your university. You need to propose a group, explain why this group should be formed and do all the necessary paperwork. I would go to the student government (if applicable) and ask about the process of forming groups/clubs.

As for projects, there are many things you can do. It all really depends on what talents you have! Some basic ideas are taking photos of nonbinary folks and include their story or you can film clips of each nonbinary person telling their story and then put them all together in a nice video! If you have any art skills, you can paint them as well and make a nice art gallery with a small description of them next to the painting. If you’re more of a writer, you can compile these stories and publish them as well (with their permission, of course). There’s tons of ideas out there and these are a few of them but I hope it helps. I can’t wait to see what you make!

Hi Gabriel,

How do you go about choosing a name? I’ve been struggling so much with this and would prefer a gender neutral name. Also, I’m Hispanic and my parents won’t allow me to cut my hair. My long hair is a major source to my dysphoria. I’m 18 and go to a college not too far from home. My parents are able to visit me often. I’m afraid that if I cut my hair or start T, they won’t help me pay for school. I can’t afford it on my own. This also makes me feel guilty in a way that I am using them for money. I’m also afraid that I’ll get disowned, they are not supportive of the LGBT+ community. This fear has affected me a lot and holds me back from my happiness. What should I do? 😦 – Anonymous

Ahhhh yes. My Hispanic parents have forbade me from cutting my hair as well.

I actually changed my whole name twice legally, the second time trying to correct my first name choice and internalized racism (long story, lol). I had to set a criteria for first names so I can narrow it down, criteria being that the name had to have a Spanish equivalent and that not many people had that name. So I first chose Damien after the main character in “The Omen”, which sounded great at first when I was rushing to change my name legally so I can start looking for jobs. Then, after a year or so, Damien started to not feel right and found myself looking for new names again. After trying out a few in private, I told everyone I was going by Gabriel and will be changing my name legally a second time. Surprisingly, my friends agreed that it was a better name for me and liked calling me Gabe.

As for your situation,  I would tread lightly because this is a critical period in your life and your parents are paying for your education. I would start by just cutting your hair a little shorter (not a significant change) and have them adjust and then rinse and repeat. Low dose testosterone is also an option but the problem with that is that the changes will eventually be noticeable and you won’t be able to pass off your voice change as having a cold. There are other things you can do when starting hormones isn’t an option, like binding your chest with a binder (no ace bandages or KT tape!) and going by your preferred name and pronouns with your friends (assuming you have come out to them and they are supportive). If possible, I recommend joining the LGBTQIA+ group at your college for support and further resources!

Got a question for Gabriel? Submit them here and they will be answered in a future post!

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