Treating Transgender Clients

There is no current data (five years old or less) on the number of transgender people in the United States, but everyone agrees the transgender population is growing. Many of them will be seeking aesthetic services, so if you are not prepared to treat transgender clients, you are losing revenue. The upcoming book Fearless Beauties: Treating Skin of Color with Confidence includes a chapter on treating transgender clients. Here is an excerpt:

Fearless Beauties: Treating Skin of Color with Confidence

Transgender clients have particular needs you may not be prepared for. Educating yourself on treating transgender clients will make you more comfortable in your approach and communications as well as lessen the chance that you will appear insensitive or even offend your client unintentionally. Your client may be facing significant medical, socio-economic, familial, and regulatory issues that require awareness. They may also have concerns about discrimination, so your acceptance of their gender identity will make a big difference in building a trusting long-term relationship.

Let’s discuss the basics of transgender identity and then dive into specifics concerning skin and skincare.

is a broad term used to describe someone whose gender identity or gender expression doesn’t conform with their assigned sex.

“Gender identity”
refers to one’s personal sense that they are male, female, or another gender.

“Gender expression”
is how a person communicates their gender verbally as well as with clothing, behavior, body art, hairstyles, and more.

refers to the assignment of male or female at birth. The assignment is based on chromosomes, hormones, and physical anatomy.

“Gender norms”
refer to what society deems is appropriate behavior, dress, speech, professions, and more for each sex.

Some people choose to undergo hormone therapy, surgery and more to conform their bodies to their gender identity.

refers to someone whose gender identity is different from their birth sex assignment and has changed or wishes to change their sex through medical intervention.

is a form of gender expression where a person wears clothing that is typically worn by the opposite sex. A person who crossdresses is not necessarily transsexual or transgender.

Transitioning from one gender to another is a complicated process. Most transgender people start communicating their desire to transition in settings where they feel safe. Changes are made gradually. Common changes include adopting the clothing and grooming of the gender they identify with as well as a name change. For gender reassignment surgery, often times called gender-affirmation surgery, a medical professional will guide the person through medication and hormone therapy.

If your transgender client does not have a beauty culture established, they may need education on skincare and treatment. You can help provide that foundation. Your Male-To-Female client may initially come to you for hair removal services. Once you have established a level of trust, you can to introduce her to other services for pore refinement, texture changes, reducing fine lines, and more that will soften and feminize her features. Your Female-To-Male client may be wanting acne breakout relief. You’ll need to inform him that acne treatments will be treating the symptoms but curing the acne will not be possible during hormone therapy. He’ll see some skin relief as hormone levels become stable, but ongoing treatment is recommended. You’ll need to consider the interplay of many factors when developing your plan. Your client’s birth gender, along with their heritage and ethnic background, is as much a consideration as the hormones and medications they are taking. Be sure to update your client’s medical history at every visit, including hormones and medications. Your consultation will guide you to the best treatment plan for your client, but you will need to remain flexible, so your client will have confidence in your skills when you make changes.

Depending on what stage your client is in their transgender journey, you may have to make several adjustments to their home-skincare regimen. When your client initiates hormonal therapy, their skin is going to have some strong reactions. Male-To-Female clients will experience dryness as oil gland production is reduced. Your skin assessment of normal, dry, oily, or sensitive will be important. As the hormone schedule for Male-To-Female clients is adjusted, their skin will undergo reactions and may need home care to support the changes. A skin analysis is recommended during each professional visit to adjust home skincare accordingly.

SPF protection is always the correct option for your clients, including your transgender clients. If your clients wear makeup, make sure they are using a foundation with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Part of the satisfaction that comes with this profession is helping your clients feel confident in their own skin. Transgender clients have unique challenges concerning skincare. By being knowledgeable, you’ll be able to accept transgender clients with confidence.

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