Massage & Bodywork

MARCH | APRIL 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 67 How do you know who you are? Are you able to be fully yourself? Have you ever been afraid to be genuinely yourself? By Ellen M. Santistevan I ask these questions because it is a good way to begin reflecting on the questions of identity. I find it a helpful exercise to periodically examine myself, my motivations, and my attachments so I can be a better therapist. In today's world, we are now experiencing greater visibility of many people who are ready to claim their authentic selves. They are tired of being erased for their race, ethnicity, body size, religion, sexuality, or gender. I welcome these societal changes because not only am I the mother of an adult transgender man, 1 I cannot help but believe that openness leads, eventually, to acceptance for all people. When my son came out in 2015, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do on the issues, and I was able to access support and factual information from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (www.tgrcnm.org). As both a parent and a bodyworker, I wanted to know the best possible information on gender and body dysphoria (a general unease or dissatisfaction), the effects of hormones and binding, and what surgeries might be in the future for my son. The more I read and listened to people, and watched the changes my son went through, the more I recognized a real need for myself and other therapists to understand both the physical and social needs of the transgender community. I interviewed LMTs and transgender people about questions and concerns they had, and partnered with a transgender colleague to begin teaching an ethics class about the realities of what a transgender person goes through in order to safely navigate the world, as well as the physical effects that has on their body. I would like to share this information with other massage therapists and bodyworkers so that, together, we can ensure we've provided safe space for these clients.

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