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Renton Library stands behind binder raffle, says they’re safer than DIY methods

The Renton Library is defending its decision to give raffle prizes enabling winners to buy chest binders.

In a Teen Pride event this past weekend, the library, which is part of the King County Library System, handed out eight $50 gift cards to GC2B, which sells binders, other transitional apparel, and Pride flag-printed clothing and accessories.

Chest binders are tight-fitting garments worn over the breasts to conceal them and achieve a flat-chested appearance.

Sarah Thomas, a spokesperson for the library system, said the event was chosen and organized by the Teen Voices program at the Renton Library, and that the gift certificates were picked by the teen organizers as a raffle prize.

Writer calls chest binders ‘barbaric’

“This is something that they believe strongly about and they have selected it,” she said. “Honestly, it’s their choice, that’s how their program is set up … These are issues that are important to them and this is what they want to see out of their library.”

As such, the library is “supporting our teens who have made this decision.”

Some media outlets, such as Vice and The New York Times, have questioned the safety of binders, pointing to links between chest binding and health problems such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and back pain.

Thomas said that she had not read the medical analyses of the practice, but noted that GC2B markets its products as safe. She added that the DIY binding methods some teens might use to due to lack of funds, such as duct-taping one’s chest, can be very dangerous.

Dori asked if it was fair to use tax dollars to fund something that could lead to a pre-teen or teenage girl deciding to change her gender identity.

“I think that’s a pretty big leap to make, between a chest binder and changing your gender,” Thomas said.

She explained that while the Renton Library itself is funded by tax dollars, Teen Voices specifically is privately funded. Still, she said that she supports people from every walk of life.

“We support everyone, we are inclusive, we serve a huge area — King County is very large, very diverse,” she said. “And we have these programs, these events that reflect that diversity.”

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