• ASOMschool

Ethical Sharing Moment: Transgender, is your practice safe?

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Recently I attended the AMTA school summit. Every time I attend one of these events I am always elated at being surrounded by other people who are as passionate about massage and learning as I am. So going in I was very excited to say the least. The topics on the table were a lot to do with research, which tends to be a very dear topic to me. I saw on the line up that ethics were on board as well. Ok, I understand, it’s always good to refresh on ethics but not usually my most favorite subject. The lady doing the hour and half talk walks up to the stage and begins. I admittedly started to get the glazed look over my eyes, when all of a sudden I hear the word transgender. Transgender? Well this hasn’t been a topic brought up in any ethics class I’ve taken or taught. So I immediately I was drawn into the conversation that started to take place.


The reactions around the room was very interesting. While everyone seemed very much in-favor of the LGTBQ community, the amount of groans and eye rolling was up there. Now this particular topic that was being discussed was about schools and are we considered “safe” in the sense of are we being considerate of how people want to gender identify. One of the questions asked was, “Does your schools application give the student the option to chose their own gender identification?” Not a single hand went up. Now this got me thinking. How many health care practitioners have that option on their intake form? I admit my intake form asks if the client is male or female. There have been plenty clients that have gone to my clinic that are transgender but no one ever asked me if there was another option. Digging deeper to my surrounding peers I asked their take on the subject. A few was all for whatever anyone wanted to identify as and a few others felt that a male had male reproductive parts and females had female reproductive parts. However they wanted to dress, look, act was irrelevant to the scientific fact of the gender they were born with and currently physically had.


Here in Washington we are a liberal state and I feel people are integrated into such concepts at an early age. My son numerous times has come home and talked to me about the subject. He has a few openly transgender friends and is a huge supporter. I was not as aware of all the trends, options, and proper terminology so he has been a huge help in the subject. In a state so liberal, how many therapists are giving the option on their intake form? And do you think it should be filled out according to the gender they were born with or the gender of their choice? What do you think could be problematic with either option? After much consideration and thought to the subject, it is no wonder why we spend so much time in ethics. While the laws change for massage therapists (which tend to typically consist of most ethics classes) so do the ethical dilemmas. It isn’t illegal to offer a section that asks male or female on your intake form, but brings us to an excellent question, is it an ethical issue?

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