Being a trans woman and a licensed massage therapist

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  • #120820
    Aubrey Kirk

    I am sort of new to this group and I personally just came out as transgender to the world earlier this year.  I am still feeling my way through all of this.  I lost my job because of the pandemic and I thought I was going to retire from massage therapy, but economics is making me realize that I might have to start giving massages for a living again.

    I have found being a man that is a massage therapist to be challenging enough.  A lot of men don’t want to get a massage from a man because they think it makes them gay.  Yeah, go figure.  Some women don’t want to be given massages by men either.  Fortunately, I was able to find enough clients to pay the bills anyway.  I have talked to many men that are massage therapists and they have all told similar stories.  They can build a practice but we are never as successful as a women massage therapist.

    I guess my question is, do you think it would be even harder to be a massage therapist as a trans woman?  I am at a point at the beginning of my transition that I dress more obviously in women’s clothing.  I go out in full makeup and fake breasts because I haven’t started hormone treatment yet.  Would you feel comfortable going to a trans woman or trans man for a massage?  I personally don’t care either way.  I have gotten some really great massage from men.

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    • #129533

      Hi Aubrey, I guess it wouldn’t be an issue unless you tell them you are trans. If you are just starting HRT or don’t feel “passable” then word might get out if a client asks – you can’t lie, of course. But if they don’t ask, don’t voluteer. You could always wear a mask and tell them it is for their safety and comfort while the transition is “active”.

      I wouldn’t have known either way with any of the PTs I have visited in the past, unless small talk indicates their gender.



    • #120856

      Hi Aubrey!

      My personal experience with getting massage from professionals has been mostly with males.  It has certainly never bothered me, but then again I’m bi so I have nothing to be afraid of like those cis-het males do.

      I think, depending on the local politics of where you live, that lots of people would want to go to a trans woman for massage.

      And your idea of targeting the LGBTQ+ community is excellent!   I can picture you doing really well with that!!


      Good luck to you!

      –Rebecca Dixon

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      • #120858

        My real problem starting out was that I lived in a small town that had a really well-known massage school. so everybody’s brother had a sister that was a massage therapist.  You could literally walk down any street in that town and see a massage therapist on every street corner.  Much like Seattle with a coffee shop or coffee kiosk on all four corners of an intersection.  The competition was fierce.  It didn’t help that the massage school offered twenty-dollar massages for the students to give massages to the public.  The book literally was as thick as a phone book of people wanting massages.

    • #120855
      DeeAnn Hopings

      Yes, I could never understand the high pressure deal. For me, after a point, it becomes uncomfortable. Might people be associating a degree of pain with effectiveness? Curious…

    • #120840
      DeeAnn Hopings


      I don’t have a specific answer to your question, but I am interested in what responses that you get. My wife did massage for 10 years; mostly in Kentucky and a bit in California. Ultimately she quit when she developed arthritis in her hands. She has worked on me as well as other female and male therapists. Personally, I have never noticed much difference in the work. There seems to be a certain degree of force and pressure and every one who has worked on me has been able to do that. Philosophically, gender didn’t make a difference for me, but then again my stance on gender has always been pretty relaxed. Perhaps the proof is that I tend to fall asleep regardless of who is working on me.

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      • #120843


        I found my share of people like you and they were the best clients.  It really shouldn’t matter who massages you.  In massage school, they brought in three alum of the school and they talked about this very subject.  Not the trans question, but men in massage.  Massage is seen as a “women’s” profession, sort of like nursing.  Men, that do it are seen as something weird, an anomaly?   I really didn’t put much energy into this question when I was practicing.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said whatever.  But because massage is such an intimate interaction between people and given people’s reaction to trans people, I am afraid that it would be even harder to get clients.  Thinking about this, I think I am going to try it but make my target market the LGBTQ community.  Provide a safe place and for people to come and get a few minutes away from life and their worries and get pampered.

        I understand about arthritis in the hands.  I am developing arthritis in my hands as well.  I always had clients that wanted so much pressure that you were practically pushing them through the table.  At times to be honest it would have been a lot easier to have been on the table with them giving them a massage.  what has made it harder for me is a few years ago I was training for a tough mudder and I hurt my shoulder really bad.  It has since healed but I had to quit giving deep massages.  I know have to look for clients that like light to medium pressure.

        Thank you for reaching out.

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