Comfort Levels

One of my transgender clients has made me uncomfortable multiple sessions, and I’m not sure how to handle it.

They are a younger male to female and have not completed their transition with augmentation. That is they still have a man’s body, and simply wear women’s clothes and hairstyles.

Where it is causing discomfort for me is that they are also still functioning out of the men’s paradigm in regards to how they carry themselves, and with an unawareness of how much my profession is affected by traditional gender roles and sexuality. They seem to have no idea about the role of sheets for a massage therapist or how many rules affect my work.

Essentially, this client has layed on top of the sheets in just shorts, every time I have seen them. I start session face down because of their reasons for coming in, so her chest is obscured from view naturally.

The first few appointments I was unsure of how to proceed and just kept them face down, doing as much as possible. Today I knew I must work on their neck better and needed them to turn over, but I was scared to ask.

I explained very gently “If you’re comfortable in doing so, you can turn over and I can spend some time on your neck”. She flipped just like my guys would, I sighed and proceeded.

See on one hand, I am super grateful that this divine feminine took a man’s body and is willing to take on the fight to create change. It is a massive cumbersome job to be authentic to your inner being when the world would rather you do the opposite. I know from my own journey, and as I said before it helps to know you’re not alone. I would congratulate this person in every other part of her life. I just wish she had a little more awareness of rules and laws that are all too frequently intended to keep women covered, or sex hidden, and manipulate gender interactions, creating massive consequences. If she were aware of those issues she should have initiated a brief conversation acknowledging them and consenting to such occurence before I had to ask.

As it is, I sat and thought about licensing laws, board regulations, how the police have been known to bust massage therapists for inappropriate behavior. My mind was on the legal ramifications of how I handled this situation if it was an officer on my table, instead of being fully focused on her massage.

See massage therapists have to follow very strict rules, laws, and ethics guidelines to just go to work everyday. If I fail at that I can lose my certification, my license, and my ability to work as a massage therapist, for the rest of my life.

Women are supposed to be covered from the armpit to below the pubic region at all times. Men only have to have their pubic region covered at all times. Esalen Massage is a modality that is practiced nude and it is illegal in most states, but it is definitely illegal in the Midwest where I practice.

So here is a woman by all indicators for me, following the basic rules for a male massage with just the shorts on.

Even biological women which have little or no breast development, know of these rules and follow them. I’ve had women with absolutely no breast development burrow into sheets to ensure they were more than well covered, because they know and understand the taboo of a woman’s breasts being uncovered.

So how do I make a transgender person whom I accept for being who they are, aware of the discomfort they are creating for me, and especially when I have no control over the rules? It’s a paradox I don’t know the answer to, which causes great concern and discomfort for me.

Thoughts are welcome.

May you find yourself comfortable always. May you know you are safe at work no matter what. May you always do your best to maintain your authenticity, ethics, and professionalism. May you know things always work out somehow. May you know you are loved and accepted in all that you do.

Om Shanti

About Treasa Cailleach

I'm a massage therapist working with chiropractic and the elderly; musician, artist, pagan, mom, B of LGBTQ, & polyamorous professional.

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