Texas Hold ‘Em

Texas has a few pieces of massage legislation in the offing. And while I don’t think most of it is as detrimental to the profession on the whole as the recent amendments to Utah’s regulations, I can’t say I’m crazy about it. I have a fundamental problem with regulations that are not clearly defined, and this seems to be one of those cases. Their language just plain ticks me off, as well.

HB 722 starts out with “relating to the regulation of massage therapists, massage schools, massage establishments, and sexually oriented businesses, providing penalties.” Do we see any legislation that starts out “relating to the regulation of bowling alleys, physician’s offices, funeral homes” etc that has to include “sexually oriented businesses?” No, we do not. Texas is far from the only state who refers to us in this manner.

As we read further, we come to an amended section (there are several amended parts) stating that it shall be against the law to provide or offer to provide massage “while nude or in clothing designed to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of an individual.”

Now here is where the language is offensive, to me. Of course, I am glad to know it’s against the law to massage in the nude. However, I think the second half of that sentence is extremely ambiguous, and is going to be open to the interpretation of whichever board members or judge in a civil or criminal court hears the first test case. While it’s obvious that lingerie from Victoria’s Secret might fit the bill, what about a v-neck top or a tank top? What about a pair of tight jeans, leggings, or yoga pants? A form-hugging sweater if you have large breasts? What about a pair of shorts, who is going to say how many inches from the knee they can be before they look “sexually arousing?”  There are some people who could manage to look sexy in a flour sack, and others who couldn’t look sexy no matter what they are wearing. In my opinion, that is a bad piece of legislation because it isn’t clearly defined. Furthermore, a couple of lines later it goes on to say that while you are in a massage establishment you may not “possess” clothing designed to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of an individual.  If you have a date after work, you’d better not hang your little black dress in the office so you can change, lest you be accused of something.

This bill also includes reflexology as a method of massage subject to their practice act. HB 722 is sponsored by Rep. Garza, (512) 463-0269,  or e-mail him here.

HB 556 seeks to exclude Muscle Activation Techniques from being covered under massage licensing. Muscle activation techniques include the detection and correction of muscle imbalances through the use of palpation and isometric exercises. HB 556 is sponsored by Rep. Howard, (512) 463-0631 or e-mail her here.

HB 1716 will exclude from licensure a lot of techniques that are commonly used by massage therapists–mostly energy work techniques including Healing Touch, polarity, craniosacral, body/mind techniques, Ayurveda, and a host of others. Strangely, the bill also includes the admonition to the public that people performing these techniques are not licensed and that they are free to seek a diagnosis from a licensed physician, chiropractor, dentist, nurse, etc and actually includes massage therapists and personal trainers in that group. Really? Diagnosing is out of our scope of practice as massage therapists and while I am usually concerned about our rights being taken away, I really don’t think it’s a good thing to say we can give a diagnosis just because we have a massage license. What’s to prevent some newbie fresh out of school from diagnosing someone?  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been practicing 25 years, you still shouldn’t be diagnosing people. We aren’t trained for that.

HB 1716 is sponsored by Rep. Harless, (512) 463-0496or e-mail her here.

I urge you to contact theses legislators to say Texas, hold ’em. None of these bills look like a good thing for massage therapists.