June is Pride Month, a vibrant, rainbow-filled recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. Hand in Health Massage Therapy is proud to be a LGBTQ owned and operated Clinic. This month’s blog will discuss why massage therapy is particularly beneficial for the LGBTQ+ population. Also, read how both our Clinics strive to be a welcoming and safe space for the queer community and their allys.
If you are in the Syracuse, NY area and looking for a professional team of massage therapists to help you feel welcomed and safe, contact Hand in Health today!
LGBTQ+ Challenges to Health
Sexual and gender minority populations, those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), present a high risk for increased stress. This is due to the oppression, harassment, discrimination, stigmatization, and social isolation that they often face. As a result, increased stress associated with sexual and gender minorities raises the risk for mental illness to occur within LGBTQ populations.
Secondly, LGBTQ+ individuals experience a greater number of health disparities and have less access to health care. For example, they are less likely to have access to health insurance. When treated, they are more likely to report lack of cultural competence by their health care providers. Sadly, they are more likely to report poor quality of care and unfair treatment by their healthcare providers.
[Photo Credit: “LGBT+ People’s Health and Experiences Accessing Care” https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/report/lgbt-peoples-health-and-experiences-accessing-care/“]
EveryBODY Benefits from Massage
The benefits of massage therapy are diverse. Here are just a few benefits of massage that are of particular interest to the LGBTQ+ community:
- Extensive research has proven massage therapy to be an effective tool to relieve stress and produce significant positive changes in emotional states and stress levels.
- Clinical research suggests that regular massage naturally increases the healthy immune system’s ability to kill certain cells, while decreasing the number of T-cells, for an improvement of the body’s overall immune function.
- Massage may positively affect post surgical scar tissue challenges a transitioning person may face. Regular massage therapy lasting at least 30 minutes or more, may help the management of pain and also increase pliability while decreasing pigmentation and thickness of scar tissue.
- Research indicates that massage can improve mood, reduce depression and reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
- Positive physical touch may have profound and under-researched impacts on members of the LGBTQ+ community. As persons who may be survivors of physical abuse or harassment, the safe and welcoming environment of a Massage Therapist’s treatment room may allow such ones to slowly reacclimate with physical touch. A trans person may also benefit from the proprioception and body awareness massage may create as they acclimate to their new body and changing hormones. Physical touch, especially massage, releases endorphins producing both improved psychological and physiological changes.
Creating an Inclusive Massage Practice
Here are just a few ways we strive maintain an inclusive massage practice for the community:
- Gender neutral bathrooms are available at both our locations.*
- We’ve recently updated our Health History/Intake Form to include a field to indicate your pronoun preferences. Everything recorded on our Intake Forms are completely confidential.
- Gender neutral draping is our standard practice by keeping all our patient’s chest fully covered. When treating the pectoral muscles, patients may adjust the drape to their comfort level. Breast tissue will always remain covered by a sheet or blanket. Our patients are always welcome to wear as much clothing as they may need to feel comfortable.
- An audit has recently been completed of our website and scheduling system to make sure we are no longer using cis-normative language. We are always open to suggestions and ways to improve.
- We look for ways to provide resources and training opportunities free of charge for our Massage Therapists. Recently, our therapists were given the opportunity to take the class: Creating an Affirming and Inclusive Practice from our partners at Healwell.
- Massage Therapists have the benefit of being able to spend an hour or more of uninterrupted time with our patients. This quality time allows us to listen to our patients health concerns in detail, treat what is within our scope of practice with respect and care, and make quality referrals to other LGBTQ inclusive health care professionals when appropriate.
Gay Friendly Couples Massage
Our Couples massage treatments are not only for cis-normative pairings but for all types of relationships. Couples massages are a great way to spend quality time together, focus on your health and can be a great bonding experience. Everyone who books an appointment is treated respectfully, no matter their gender or coupling. Read more about the benefits of a couples massage in our February 2021 Blog: Benefits of a Couples Massage.
Regardless of your gender or sexual preference, we all deserve the same quality of health care. The benefits of massage therapy await all members of our local LGBTQ+ community as we celebrate Pride Month together. If you are in the Syracuse, NY area and are looking for a dedicated team of massage therapists, contact Hand In Health today!
*Our Downtown Syracuse Clinic has a gender neutral bathroom located on the main level as you enter, and 2 on the second floor attached to the fitness center. Due to the age and design of the historic building, the bathrooms on the 3rd floor are gender assigned. Please use whichever bathroom you are most comfortable using or you may easily access a lower floor anytime.
We are massage therapists and other allied healthcare practitioners committed to providing knowledgeable, ethical care for transgender clients.
The mission of #SafeOnMyTable is to connect transgender and non-binary people with safe and affirming therapeutic bodywork practitioners who are educated about their specific healthcare related needs.
Connect with the #SafeOnMyTable Community on Facebook
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Cigna. LGBTQ+ Health Disparities (May 2021) https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/lgbt-disparities
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AMTA. Massage Can Reduce Symptoms of Depression. (Oct 2011) https://www.amtamassage.org/about/position-statements/massage-can-reduce-symptoms-of-depression/
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