Article | Category: Human Resources




Accommodating Transgender Guests 

Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a serious area of concern.

As businesses aim to offer wellness experiences, spas are challenged to ensure they are creating a safe and positive environment for both clients and employees.

As many employers recognize, adopting proactive measures may prevent harassment from occurring.

Please keep in mind the following is a “Best Practices” guide to aid you in creating your own, unique policy that works best for your business.

In order to be of service to transgender spa guests in a manner that is as welcoming and comforting as it is safe and legal, certain action steps need to be taken. 

Before action steps can be taken, spa directors and managers need to educate themselves and their staff to reach new levels of understanding concerning the non-discriminatory treatment of transgender individuals with the inclusion of two main components: (1) Best ways to serve and accommodate transgender individuals considering their comfortability in spa’s communal areas (2) Ensuring non-transgender clients feel safe and comfortable from the service and accommodation delivered to transgender guests. 

Before getting into a general best practices policy for transgender spa guests, spa directors and managers should be well-versed in the legal definitions concerning transgender guests.  These recommendations are based only on United States federal law and are provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or even fully legally-compliant for your business. ISPA recommends spa owners consult with their attorney to confirm they are meeting the laws within their jurisdiction before implementing policies is always advised, as laws differ based on location, including for international spas and on a state-by-state basis within the United States.

Consider definitions concerning transgender guests as follows: 


  • Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth, regardless of any gender-related medical or surgical treatment they may or may not have received. 
  • This can include transsexual persons, transgender persons, cross-dressing persons, androgynous persons and other individuals whose appearance or characteristics are perceived to be gender-typical

Gender Identity

  • Gender Identity is how an individual identifies one’s own gender, or inner sense of being a man or a woman, or somewhere in between these identities, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth. This includes an individual’s gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior. 

Gender Expression 

  • Gender Expression is how an individual expresses gender identity or the characteristics and behaviors that people use to identify another person’s gender. This can include appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions that are perceived as masculine, feminine or androgynous.

Addressing main areas of concern for both transgender and non-transgender clients lies within spa’s communal areas of restroom accessibility and locker room space.


Restroom Space 

  • It is recommended that transgender guests have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity exclusively and consistently. Where available, a single stall bathroom should be available to any individual, transgender or not, who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason. The use of a single stall bathroom should be a matter of choice for the individual (again, transgender or not), and no guest should be asked or forced to use the single stall bathroom.  Restroom policies and standards will vary based on laws and regulations within the spa’s respective location/jurisdiction. 
  • It is recommended that transgender employees also have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity exclusively and consistently. Again, and where available, a single stall bathroom should be available to any individual, transgender or not, who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.

Locker Room Accessibility 

  • Where spas maintain separate locker room facilities for male and female guests or employees, transgender individuals may be allowed to use the locker room that corresponds with their gender identity - not their assigned sex at birth. 
  • Based on availability and appropriateness to address privacy concerns, such accommodations could include:
    • Use of a private area in the locker room (i.e., a bathroom stall with a door or an area separated by a curtain) 
    • A separate changing schedule, utilizing the locker room before or after other or non-transgender guests
    • Use of a nearby private area (i.e., a nearby restroom) 
  • Consider notifying all guests of your processes and expectations before a question or situation arises.


How to ensure both transgender guests and non-transgender guests feel comfortable and safe in spa 

  • Transgender Awareness Training exists for spas and salons that want to engage the trans community in their place of business so service providers can treat trans people just like everyone else when they come into contact with them.


What can the spa industry do to prevent and tackle issues related to transgender guests?

  • Whether or not a transgender client requires an extra level of discretion will be a completely personal preference and may depend on if they are “out” in their work or personal lives. 
  • Spa managers and service providers can assess whether or not a transgender guest is seeking extra privacy or is more open with their transition based on information volunteered by the guest. 



Spas should have a transgender policy posted in a common employee workspace where staff can refer to and be reminded of best practices of the accommodation of both transgender and non-transgender guests. Spa directors and managers need to be held responsible for educating and training their employees on transgender guest privacy preferences, and should take all complaints, whether from a non-transgender guests or transgender guest, seriously. 

The most important factor is ensuring the safety and comfortability of all spa guests in all capacities of the service they are receiving, from walking through the lobby to changing in the locker room to entering the treatment room.