About.com, Male vs Female MTs

Discussion area for male practitioners on issues and topics related to their practice.

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EgoMagickian
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Post by EgoMagickian » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:43 am

Interesting... Remind me, Jason, how you do this?

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Post by JasonE » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:27 pm

Well, the obvious way to start this list is to control costs and maximize the effectiveness of advertising dollars. They make good business sense, and it is easy to address the challenges in an ethical way.

Here are a few less-obvious approaches that help set us apart from our competition:

When people call or stop in to make appointments, we try to match them up with appropriate MTs based upon their needs and preferred treatment methods. If a client specifies a gender preference, we respect that. But if it's "an emergency" we gently encourage them to try a skilled MT they wouldn't normally schedule with. If they don't immediately consider the possibility, we try to find some other way to accommodate them ASAP.

Some of our MTs are cross-trained to do some reception hours, and they are excellent at answering questions and helping clients understand how a suggested MT is a good fit. But even our regular receptionists have been trained to handle some basic questions, and they have some "cheat sheets" that have brief summaries of each MT's background and style. Clients seeking MTs trained in particular modalities are easily matched up with the MT(s) possessing the desired skills.

In accordance with Minnesota CAM law, our clients have the right to know the education level and background of their MT. We keep that info at the front desk and provide a review copy to all new clients, and we are happy to provide take-home copies upon request. Many clients actually read this info, and some become interested in trying various MTs due to the provided info. This info includes names, but no pictures as we prefer that our clients not base their choice upon appearance.

All of these help contribute to our profitability by maximizing client satisfaction. Clients feel that (1) our receptionists are knowledgeable and truly care about their needs/preferences, (2) that the MTs we recommend are good matches and highly skilled, and (3) that we go "above and beyond" to accommodate them and make each interaction a pleasant experience.

These also contribute to our profitability by maximizing MT job satisfaction. This minimizes turnover and helps keep morale high so that everyone truly enjoys working for us. It's great for our MTs to see mostly clients that need and want the kind of work that each MT most prefers to do. Everybody's happy then, and that keeps our clients coming back year after year.

Though male MTs still have a harder time building a client base, we have many regulars that state no gender preference. As a business, we have gained a great reputation for quality care and first-class service, and most of our clients feel that any MT we employ is going to be good. Building that kind of trust and word-of-mouth reputation can only be accomplished via ethical means, by doing the right things on a daily basis. Even errors can turn into growth opportunities, and we do our best to turn lemons into lemonade! :lol:
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Post by Amy » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:46 am

I personally don't think someone choosing a female therapist over a male therapist or vice versa is classified as "discrimination". It's called personal preference. It's something also called freedom of choice. Sorry but it's my body and I will choose who touches it or not, that is my right. This is just my personal opinion. No right or wrong here.

I have a client, without going into detail, has a history and she would never feel comfortable having a male work on her. I think her reasons are valid. Why? Because it's what she has experienced in life and does not choose to have female work on her to spite a male.

I use to work at the franchise where Jason now owns one of their locations, in fact, Jason & I worked together before he bought his store. The owner of the franchise established over 20+ years ago the protocol that Jason speaks of. The receptionist would find out what the clients needs were, finding out what kind of pressure they liked, matched them up with a few different therapists and with the available times. The receptionist uses the therapists names, never asking if they would prefer male or female and letting the client make their choice. I think this system works very well.

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Post by RelaxandRejuvenate » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:57 am

Amy wrote:I It's something also called freedom of choice. Sorry but it's my body and I will choose who touches it or not, that is my right. This is just my personal opinion. No right or wrong here.
Pro-choice takes on a whole new meaning!
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Post by Snackdaddy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:29 pm

There is a big difference here between established businesses that have bookoo repeat clients, and destination spas, which rarely have repeat clients. JasonE's example just prior to this spells out a booking system that is just about as good as it gets for any "sob story" employee, be they male or low seniority or whatever. In time, therapists at that location will live or die by their own skills, as it should be. Males, and those with low booking seniority will just have to be patient in seeing their clientele grow.

Now, destination spas are a different story. Having been in a destination spa dense city (Scottsdale, AZ) for 15 years, I feel certain that gender neutral booking techniques will NEVER come to pass. There is a very real element of physical and emotional vulnerability to the client in this scene that will NEVER be overridden by legislation (see the above legal precedent from the EEOC on page 4 of this thread).

And furthermore..... if gender neutral booking was legislated, yes, a number of folks would continue to book appointments while at whatever destination spa. BUT.... a substantial number of folks would "vote with their feet", by simply refusing to book any appointments at those spas. If you think that the resort, hotel, and spa industry leaders in this state are gonna sit idly by and allow their precious sales figures (and corresponding bonus checks!) to be sacrificed in this manner; AND if you think local and State tax revenuers are gonna let that established cash cow be starved, you are truly not aware of how politics happens in this country.

Racial discriminations in business fell due to an outcry from the general public. Traffic photo radar device use is falling here in AZ due to an outcry from the general public. There will NEVER be an outcry from the general public about male LMT's not getting enough appointments at the local fancypants spa. Not now, not ever. Period.

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Post by EgoMagickian » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:14 pm

Amy, you have failed to understand a crucial distinction in this conversation.

You wrote:

I personally don't think someone choosing a female therapist over a male therapist or vice versa is classified as "discrimination". ... Sorry but it's my body and I will choose who touches it or not, that is my right.

Which is all well and good, but not what we are talking about. I don't think there's anyone on the board who has said that a client does not have a right not to be touched by someone they don't wish to be touched by.

What we are talking about is business practices (as opposed to client behavior). These are subject to certain laws which limit what kind of client preferences they may cater to.

I have a client, without going into detail, has a history and she would never feel comfortable having a male work on her. I think her reasons are valid. Why?

As has already been discussed, a client in this situation has special needs and must be responsible for them herself. It is not a business' responsibility to ensure she be scheduled with a person who fits her criteria which have nothing to do with the ability to give bodywork.

If your client would never feel comfortable, due to similar history, having someone of a certain race work on her, would you feel that a business should cater to that preference as well?

Snackdaddy, the tone of your post baffles me.

Having been in a destination spa dense city (Scottsdale, AZ) for 15 years, I feel certain that gender neutral booking techniques will NEVER come to pass.

15 years is hardly a long period of time in terms of human history. Regardless of what you or anyone else has experienced, I don't see how you can extrapolate from that through the end of humanity ;-)

Your argument seems to boil down to "it's too profitable to discriminate, therefore it will continue." This a) fails to take a moral stand one way or the other on the issue... i.e. what do YOU think of the ethical question? and b) seemingly belies a very cynical view of mankind.

There will NEVER be an outcry from the general public about male LMT's not getting enough appointments at the local fancypants spa. Not now, not ever. Period.

That seems realistic, but irrelevant. The issue isn't really about male MTs not getting enough appointments, and I don't really think a public outcry is necessary to create change. I think we will see this situation change eventually, inevitably, as feminism and gender politics continue our inexorable path toward equality.

Like I said, your post confuses me. I want to ask you "what is it about equality that you oppose?" but I'm not certain you even understand this issue as an issue of equality. Please tell us more about where you're coming from.

Oh, btw, I think we understood the EEOC quote on page 4 in completely opposite ways. I think it supports gender equality and fairness in our work, not the opposite. The "very real element of physical and emotional vulnerability" that you mention, however "real" (as in, truly going on a client's head) is still "preference or stereotypical assumptions, rather than legitimate concerns about bodily privacy" that the EEOC would not view as sufficient to merit exception.

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Post by RelaxandRejuvenate » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:44 am

EgoMagickian wrote:Amy, you have failed to understand a crucial distinction in this conversation.

You wrote:

I personally don't think someone choosing a female therapist over a male therapist or vice versa is classified as "discrimination". ... Sorry but it's my body and I will choose who touches it or not, that is my right.

Which is all well and good, but not what we are talking about. I don't think there's anyone on the board who has said that a client does not have a right not to be touched by someone they don't wish to be touched by.

What we are talking about is business practices (as opposed to client behavior). These are subject to certain laws which limit what kind of client preferences they may cater to.
I think you are missing the point. That is what we are talking about.

If Amy, and others, want to decide who touches their body, the business is providing information to allow them to make the decision. You seem to want to subvert that. The business practices are put into place to cater t the client preference of who touches their body. How can you be FOR personal choice, but AGAINST businesses helping you make that choice?
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Post by Amy » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:31 am

I don't fail to understand anything. Bottom line is... are we not able to choose who touches our body? That is MY right as human being who touches it, I don't have to divulge why.

Are we fast becoming a society that we give up our freedom of choice? And because someone doesn't like our choice we are labeled discriminatory?

Isn't part of our job as therapists to make their sessions about them and not us? Why would I want to chase someone away because I think they should try a different sex gender for a therapist than what they request.

Yes my client is a special case. She doesn't have to tell someone why she chooses a female therapist over a male therapist. This client shared in confidence with me her reasons. I understand her need for reasons beyond your comprehension obviously.

Now if someone wouldn't hire someone due to their sex, race etc. That is discrimination.

I will just agree to disagree with you on this. Bottom line a person should never be asked to give up their choice of who touches their body. And to compare this to race discrimination,... 2 completely different situations.

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Post by Snackdaddy » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:19 pm

Very well put, Amy. I also will always retain the right to determine who physically touches me in an elective situation (medical emergencies are a different matter). And I will never begrudge anyone else retaining that right for him/herself as well. When it comes to being personally physically touched, the touchee's choice trumps the toucher's sense of entitlement.

I only mention my relevant work experience to try to give my opinions a proportional amount of credibility.

I've spoken my peace. But for what it's worth, I feel that legislation comes into being by one of three ways. In order, they are:

1) Someone, somewhere stands to profit. Either a business owner, a collection of business owners, or the local tax collectors.

2) Political positioning. By making DWI standards incredibly low, Johnny Politician can claim at the next election to be "tough on crime!" and "tough on drunk drivers!". Any political opponent who even begins to oppose those proposed changes will be slaughtered by Johnny's team as being "soft on crime!" and "happy to put drunk drivers on the road to kill your children!". Reality is not a factor. There is an argument to be made that profits play into this tactic as well.

3) Undeniable public outcry. Such as the end of Jim Crow laws.

So where does this leave the male LMT's in search of forced gender neutral spa booking techniques? On the losing end of all three of these criteria. Again, game over.

I'm not cynical about humans, but I'm cynical about what this current political process has become in this country. Believe me, if I were king of this country, PROFIT and POLITICS would not be the deciders of public policy! Then again, If my Aunt had balls, she'd be my Uncle.

Alright, I'm getting delirious. Again, I've spoken my peace. Thanks to all, past and future, for a most interesting read and discussion!

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Post by jeffh » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:59 pm

I am self employed and have been for 16 years.

A few years back I did work at a resort and did experience some discriminatory booking practices by reception.
I do believe that a careful script as many above have mentioned, quoting the therapist's name is the best approach.

The bottom line for me though is that I DO NOT want to work on anyone who is not comfortable with me for any reason. I would rather they express that reservation and go elswhere.

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Post by EgoMagickian » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:17 pm

LOL... I maintain that none of the three of you (R&R, Amy, snackdaddy) have understood my position thoroughly enough on this to switch roles in this debate and make my argument back to me.

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Post by Amy » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:45 am

I do believe as a business, it is our responsibility to match the client up with the proper therapist to best suit their needs. It's up to each businesses guidelines, I seriously don't think race should even be compared to this matter. Ultimately, as I said is it not our job to make the sessions about our clients and not about us?

I also mentioned in my first initial post of the franchise Jason owns, we use to work together. It would seem that protocol would make everyone happy just using names... it worked very well, no problems, but you didn't touch that part of my post. oh well, some just like to argue. I just disagree from the whole standpoint of where you are coming from. But I agree to disagree with you.

Amy

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Post by Blisss » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:19 am

Amy wrote:oh well, some just like to argue.
I've enjoyed Ego's posts for many years. His posts are always thoughtful & often unique in their perspective. However, he's never been someone who simply likes to argue. Feel free to disagree with him, but don't dismiss him.

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Post by StephenCMT » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:01 am

Can't agree with you there from what I've read since coming back to the forum. His last post is one of many examples. No malice...just my opinion.

But, in response to Amy's last post, I DO agree that it should be about the client and not us in most regards, but there are a few unfair practices whether self-inflicted or business-inflicted that can get covered up by all-encompassing philosophies like this. Not to say that this isn't a good or even the best philosophy, but there are lines.
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Post by Amy » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:35 am

I only stated what I did, because he completely dismissed the end of my post, which directly is in line with what he was talking about. He inquired with Jason how it went, I backed it up.

We all interpret things differently.

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Post by EgoMagickian » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:17 pm

Amy I understand that you have different thoughts but I'm not sure you've told me WHY you think them. And I also understand that you don't like my line of thinking, but I'm not sure you've shown me WHY I should let go of it.

Does agreeing to disagree mean we simply tell each other WHAT we think without being willing to interrogate our own thoughts... and that we dismiss what others think without being willing to understand those thoughts well enough to critique them? Because I don't think it will result in a very meaningful conversation.

I've tried my best to lay my thought process out, and as far as I can tell it's mostly ignored or dismissed. You may not like it, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

The most honest people I've talked to on this subject are those who come out and say "I don't see why clients shouldn't be able to pick therapists by race for any of the same reasons they pick them by gender."

I don't see how we can maintain a middle ground between treatment of gender vs racial differences without the glare of double standards. Amy, I think the protocol Jason described confirms the tension between these two... in attempting to occupy a middle ground, the issue of how we treat gender versus other non-BFOQ's is highlighted, not erased.

Anyway, I think that's the most succinct way of expressing the question I'm trying to investigate. So far, it seems to me that few in this thread have even bothered to attempt to reconcile this question, with most preferring to challenge the legitimacy of asking it in the first place.

Which would be fine, if that challenge was made with argument rather than assertion. You don't just get to say, "You shouldn't ask that!" "You can't compare the two!" I did and I have. Your turn.

Those who say "gender shouldn't be compared to race" need to explain why they think that and be prepared with answers to my disagreements, because I'm certainly prepared to answer theirs.

Show me how prejudice against gender is different than prejudice against race in some relevant way, because I'm not seeing it. Or show me how gender preferences are not prejudices, preferably in a way that can't be turned into arguments for "racial preferences", unless you plan to argue that racial preferences are OK too, which is something I could definitely agree to disagree on.

And let's keep in mind that this is all in the context of the workplace policy, not in the context of the client's mind. Legislation can dictate to one, not the other. Please let's stay focused on that, because I for one have not made any arguments in favor of thought policing, and I don't think anyone else here has either. So can we let go of that distracting tangent?

I also wish folks would let go of speculation about my personal stake in this conversation. I do not suffer from workplace discrimination—I am a self-employed private practitioner! Moreover, I am a gay male working in the Castro; my gender presentation is currently an asset. My stake in this conversation turns on my sense of social justice and professional standards, nothing more.

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Post by EgoMagickian » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:54 pm

BTW, thanks Blisss... I appreciate your post.

I was thinking more about the phrase "some people just like to argue"... I've never understood what people mean when they say it.

Does it mean someone who is set in their opinion and just wants to trumpet it over and over again without actually being open to changing it? If so, I can see how my posts in this thread might come off that way. I kept thinking that I just needed to find the right way to communicate my thoughts so as to be understood... so I would post again and word things differently... but I have realized that this requires the other person be open to understanding me.

I definitely have taken a position, although it's not ossified. I'm not convinced that it's The Correct position, but neither am I convinced by the responses so far, especially when I don't see in them a very good understanding of certain things I've said multiple times.

I don't keep trying because I like arguing. I keep trying because I'm giving others the benefit of the doubt. Should I stop?

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Post by JasonE » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:06 pm

Josh -

The protocol I described is reasonably gender-neutral and race-neutral, plus age-neutral and socio-political neutral. We are a multicultural, multigendered, multigenerational massage center. Don't even get me started on the diversity of religious/spiritual perspectives represented. It's ridiculous that we get along so well with one another. But we seem to do okay, and we've never received a complaint related to any of the above.

That said, I will step off my soapbox to ask you a question: What are you going on about? Your posts are becoming philosophically abstract and I have lost track of whatever point you were trying to make. Your clarification has become obfuscation. Perhaps you may yet have a future in politics. ;)
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Post by Amy » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:47 am

As I said, I agree to disagree, which means I understand I will not be able to persuade you otherwise and vice versa, and yet .... :D

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Post by EgoMagickian » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:53 am

The question is:

What rationale or justification is there for allowing an employer to cater to a client's gender preferences but not racial preferences? Why do we allow one and not the other? I am coming up short on differences that convince me.

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Post by JasonE » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:04 pm

EgoMagickian wrote:The question is:

What rationale or justification is there for allowing an employer to cater to a client's gender preferences but not racial preferences? Why do we allow one and not the other? I am coming up short on differences that convince me.
If we had a client that specified a racial preference, we would honor that if possible. Not because we agree with such preferences, but because we don't know why they have such a preference.

We take hundreds of calls each week. From what we've seen, clients that indicate a gender preference usually do so because they will feel more comfortable and able to relax, not because they feel there is anything wrong with the other gender. If someone had a bad experience with one gender, they might feel safer, more relaxed, or whatever with the other gender. They don't have to tell us that ugly backstory; they only tell us they prefer a specific gender. We are okay with that; we have both male and female MTs, and most of our clients seem fine with either gender.

The same logic permits some tolerance of race-related preferences.

If someone had a horrible experience involving a specific race and wished to avoid MTs of that race, I could understand that. We aren't going to help them by placing them with an MT that reminds them of that experience. They wouldn't have to tell us the ugly backstory; they could just tell us their preference. We could live with that; we are a multiracial, multicultural massage center.

But so far I don't remember ever having a legitimate (non-sex-seeking) caller indicate a specific racial preference. Doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but it's possible.

Tolerance, to me, includes showing some toleration for the intolerance of others. ;)

Of course, that doesn't mean I can't express my own feelings and foibles now and then... :grin:
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A new take on this

Post by Hans Fuhrubbin » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:28 pm

I just sign up after reading some of this post and frankly I think what it has degenerated into is the main problem with the massage industry. We spend so much time fighting about what is good massage and what is bad massage? Is massage in the health care industry or in the beauty/spa industry? I will post my opinions on that on a different thread. In case your wondering It is both and neither.

I regard to the question about how to book massage asking a preference or stating the name of the therapist is acceptable to me. I personally like the name way. It is also in the way you ask One place I worked at would always book the women first and then ask everyone else if they would "mind a man". That in unacceptable, in my opinion.

The cream rises to the top. Which means that if you are worth you price they will pay it. If you know you are good you will project that and you will make a living. In sixteen years since I graduated for school I have worked steadily. If I got my hands on someone in an interview I was usually hired. Many places saw my gender and did not even give my the time of day. That was their loss. As the owner of my own massage centers, one in NY (10 years) and one in NJ(4years). I hire male and female therapist and I try to be fair to both. My only criteria is I want therapist how love what they do and are good at it.

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Post by Snackdaddy » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:27 pm

First off, I'm being baited into an online argument. Someone please find me, shoot me in the head, and put me out of my misery.

I also appreciate you, Mr. EgoMagickian, clarifying your exact question. I had lost it as well.

At the risk of trying to be TOO brief, here is the best answer I can come up with:

We act and react to GENDER at the very deepest levels of ourselves--- genetically, hormonally, biologically--- as well as consciously. We do not react to RACE at those deep levels. Therefore, it has been deemed appropriate for gender preference to be honored in certain business contexts, but not racial preference.

There is a 2-inch-thick book to be written expanding on the preceding three sentences.

Jim Crow laws were put into place with no real consideration. The civil rights movement of the '60's asked for a conscious review of those laws. Upon further inspection, they were deemed as foolishly superficial in nature. In essence, those asking for racial bias in business were told to "get over it." Appropriately so.

I argue, and I believe that most everybody else in this country would agree, that the depth and the psycological and genetic and biological authenticity of the reactions we have toward gender are inescapable and thougroughly valid. These reactions will never be wiped away by any socially constructed movement. To be told to "get over it" in the same way as with race is to not understand the very absolute core of How People Are.

I, and others, believe this to be true instinctually AND upon further review. RelaxAndRejuvinate correctly asked how anyone can allow freedom of gender choice in peoples' minds, but not allow that choice to be facilitated by busness. Buisness practices, as they should, will mirror what the people want, especially if peoples' wants have been consciously applied, as has been done in this case.

This could go on forever. I'll stop here. Thoughts about all this, everyone?

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Post by EgoMagickian » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:00 pm

Thanks, Snackdaddy. I appreciate your reply.

First off, I'm being baited into an online argument. Someone please find me, shoot me in the head, and put me out of my misery.

LOL! Misery? :) Are you talking about the cognitive dissonance you feel as you consider ideas different from those you currently support?

I argue, and I believe that most everybody else in this country would agree, that the depth and the psycological and genetic and biological authenticity of the reactions we have toward gender are inescapable and thougroughly valid. These reactions will never be wiped away by any socially constructed movement.

Interesting, I think they used to say the exact same thing about race, before gender. So you think the depth and scientific authenticity of how people react means that those reactions say more about the objects being reacted to than it says about the people doing the reacting? Do you see why they call it "objectification"? Ok, well if you want to get all gender essentialist about it, I will go there with you.

If you must, we can ask: what about that which is being reacted to? What about gender? Well, I'm just really not convinced that gender doesn't boil down to anything more than some hormones, a lot of learned behavior, and a collection of images that we try to portray in our performance it (gender).

I'd be interested in hearing more about the studies you mentioned... I'd also like to juxtapose them with some real life experience. Such as:

What's the difference gender makes when you have an interaction with the transman pictured below (his name is Buck, btw) versus a bioman who looked the same? What's different about him, besides the configuration of his genitals? Clearly there is a difference between sex and gender. I think we can both agree to that?

Interesting, it would seem that if we support gender preferences in picking a massage therapist, then we are saying that in some essential way the sex, the genitals of our MT do actually matter to the therapeutic relationship. I think that's a rather odd message for MTs to want to send, don't you?

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Post by JasonE » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:54 pm

It is clear that Buck prefers to identify as a male. Therefore I doubt Buck would want to be introduced as a female MT, regardless of genital configuration. It is also unlikely that a client with a preference for a female MT would feel totally comfortable with Buck, regardless of genital configuration. Therefore the name approach is probably still the best method, as "Buck" connotes a male identity without having to discuss genitals.

If Buck was named "Chris" we would have to ask how he/she would want to be identified should a client ask about gender. This would give him/her fair input into how such inquiries were handled so that everyone would be on the same page before the matter came up.

Telling a client "it doesn't matter unless you are prejudiced" just wouldn't work.
Jason Erickson, NCTMB, ACE-CPT, AIS-TA
Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer
http://www.CSTMinnesota.com

Internet forums are like going to the zoo; if you get enough monkeys together, sooner or later someone will start throwing their poo.

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