Nonfiction by Janelle Fine

“When you bought your first binder-standing in front of the mirror did you also cry?”

Dear Wren


When the back pain becomes all too much I take Advil for you. Two pills on the regular.
They go down without a hitch or at least I think so, silently hitting the bottom of my stomach.

We both have this thing about our bodies where somedays we can’t leave the house and somedays we don’t even want them-our bodies.

Asked them not to touch us where it feels wrong or incomplete or
maybe too full and too complete.

I want to bind my chest in solidarity-E said. But then she remembered how hard it was and the buying of the binder online and the waiting for it to come and the sweating she will endure during the summer heat and the back pain so she thought better of it and decided not to. She told me I’m writing a memoir about a queer who binds and that’s not something people really do anymore. Unless you really don’t have any other choice-I say because you and I both know this to be true-and she nervously laughs a sad laugh-a sad one.

G wanted to borrow a binder to see what it was like but their breasts are already too small to really need one, only wearing tank tops out of their apartment but I gave them one anyways, the one I never wear because it hurts too much now, even though I told them it was silly and maybe even stupid because we don’t need solidarity in that way. Yesterday we both wore our binders for probably way longer than the recommended amount of time. You tell me your back hurts again just as it always does, just like mine always does. I want to protect it. I want to protect you, but there isn’t anything that can be done and you and I both know it, unless you save up the requisite amount of money for top surgery but I don’t even know if you want that, we’ve never talked about it, maybe only once in passing.

When I was younger I thought the only good thing about my body was my breasts because that’s what men commented the most on when I was naked, the boys liked them and wanted to touch them-mouths open.

When you bought your first binder-standing in front of the mirror did you also cry?

Even when the back aches, a hard pulling on the shoulders- this is what self care looks like. I hope your partner knows this. I hope your partner is enjoying the new form of your body-it’s beautiful. On second thought, I hope they aren’t just enjoying it but I hope they find it sexy because everyone deserves to feel sexy even when.

I want to cradle you. Not in a sexual way, I know you have a partner but this thing doesn’t ever get easier-             the breathing –and then again not breathing-                    and not being able to breathe and the pain that sometimes sits in between our ribs and the harder it gets to come up the big hills-the harder it is to catch a full breath and never feeling like your lungs are satisfied and always feeling like there’s this heavy weight or maybe we’re drowning under water together. You already know you’re not suppose to wear your binder for longer than eight hours a day but we do it anyways because if that’s what it takes to leave the house, so the only thing I can offer you is that on the days you leave the house-you look good, really beautiful.

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