You know that uncomfortable feeling you get when you book a health care appointment with a new practitioner? You’re thinking about how risky it feels to spend money on something that you’re not sure will work for your body, whether your provider will be LGBTQ friendly, or even whether your provider is trans-competent. Well, if you’ve been looking for a trans-competent chiropractor in Oakland, you’ve just found your home. I’m a queer, non-binary chiropractor who has been serving the Oakland and Berkeley community for over a decade (first as a massage therapist and now as a doctor who combines chiropractic adjustments with muscle work). If you’re having any sort of aches and pains that you just can’t seem to shake, I would love to invite you to come in for a free consultation to see if this would be the right fit for you.
There has been some discussion in our community around the distinction between “friendly” and “competent” when it comes to queer and trans health care. Even here in the Oakland bay area, many providers are LGBTQ friendly. They throw up a small rainbow and smile and nod when you have to correct them about pronouns, relationship status, and preferred names. They are in favor of everyone having equal rights and probably aren’t going to say offensive things to you or about you just because you are queer or trans. If you don’t identify as female, you might cringe when they call out “Miss” so-and-so or call you “Ma’am ” in an attempt to be polite. But to me, there’s a difference between someone being neutral or “friendly” about me and not truly understanding a part of who I am, versus someone being “competent” in the nuances of language that I might use or prefer and well versed in the issues that come up in bodywork/healthcare for transgender people.
Take for example, the issue of binding. Many trans-masculine or non-binary people wear binders to change the contour of their chest and to minimize gender dysphoria, among other reasons. If someone presents with neck, shoulder, and back pain to my office, and they tell me they wear a binder 8-10 hours a day, I’m not going to automatically tell them that they should stop wearing their binder or that they should limit use of it to X numbers of hours a day. I understand that the risk/benefit ratio is a highly personal decision and I will educate that person so that they can choose what is going to feel best for them both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic chiropractic adjustment that can reverse the compression effect from a binder. My job is to adjust the joints in the neck, back, and shoulders that aren’t moving so well, and release the muscles that are working overtime in order to combat your body’s other stresses (posture, repetitive motions, previous injuries, asymmetries, etc) so that your body will be in the best state possible to absorb the additional stress of binding. I also teach community workshops called “Open Your Chest, For Butches” in which I share self-massage and movement techniques that you can use to help build physical resilience. I titled the workshop back when I identified as butch, but it is open to any masculine-identified or non-binary person.
Some other reasons to choose a trans-competent chiropractor are:
There is a significant intersection with the trans and queer community and the body-positive movement. I have a sturdy table and plenty of bolsters and props to comfortably accommodate bodies of all sizes. I’ve never made a comment about someones body while working on them. That includes even comments which a lot of people think are fine or complimentary, like “wow, you have nice calves, do you run?”. Does that mean that a different shaped person has “not-nice calves?” I think that’s weird so I don’t make comments of any sort about people’s bodies, unless it applies directly to treatment.
BDSM or kink-friendly:
I’ve noticed another strong intersection with the LGBTQ community and the BDSM community. So for a chiropractor to be trans-competent or LGBTQ competent, means also respecting certain personal aspects about people’s bodies or relationships. Some would say that it can be a little awkward to receive bodywork when you have consensual marks or bruises in any area that would be visible to the practitioner. Sensitivity and good communication by the provider goes a long way. Another thing that comes up is the issue of collars or other symbolic jewelry that may get in the way of effective manual therapy, usually of the neck region. I try my best to inquire if whether it’s ok if some lotion accidentally gets on it, or if someone is able to remove it for treatment. And if the answer is no, I find a way to work around it. I’d rather my muscle work be a tiny bit less effective, than to be offensive or push a client on that boundary.