A non-binary barber says they’re able to tear up the hair business’s rulebook after their very own experiences with discrimination. Keri Blue is set to vary the best way Manchester’s trans and non-binary group get a haircut.
About ten years in the past, they had been dwelling in Brighton and tried to get a haircut at an area barbers. Keri, who makes use of they/them pronouns, requested a member of workers if they may get a pores and skin fade and was refused service. Keri stated the expertise nonetheless stays with them right this moment.
“I’ll never get over being refused a haircut,” Keri, initially from West London, tells the M.E.N. “All I wanted was a skin fade – it’s something that any man could have. They said they couldn’t cut a female’s hair because they weren’t insured to do so. But there is actually no such thing as being insured to cut women’s hair.”
Keri, who recognized as feminine on the time, stated the expertise made them really feel embarrassed and upset. They clarify: “It made me feel like s***, to be honest.
“I was really upset and gutted about the whole situation. Once you put a gown on someone, why should it matter what’s between your legs and why should it decipher how people cut your hair?”
Ten years after Keri’s expertise, it’s sadly one thing that many trans and non-binary individuals nonetheless undergo. Earlier this yr, transgender man James was refused service at a Bolton barber store. James stated the expertise made him really feel ‘ashamed of his physique’ after the barber stated they had been ‘solely certified for males’s haircuts’.
“After what I experienced, I never wanted anyone to have to go through that again,” Keri stated. “I learnt to be a barber so that I could stop people being refused a haircut.”
Keri is now a certified barber within the Northern Quarter, specialising in every little thing from moist shaves to afro hair. All whereas coming to phrases with their very own identification. Keri has been reducing hair for simply over 4 years now.
“My gender identity has been something I’ve been struggling with my entire life and it’s only recently that I’ve started to become more comfortable with it,” Keri stated. “As I was working at various places, I would ask if staff could use they/them pronouns just because I wanted to see how it felt.
“I remember one person being like ‘nah, if you’ve got tits then you’re a girl’. They just wouldn’t respect my decision. I realised I couldn’t work in an industry that didn’t support trans and non-binary people.”
WIth that in thoughts, Keri determined they’d should be the change they wished to see. And that’s the place Hair Has No Gender happened. Not solely working as a barber service for anybody – with out worry of being misgendered or judged – it additionally serves as an opportunity to coach hair professionals on eradicating the limitations of gender identification.
Hair Has No Gender works on a per time foundation. Prospects are charged for the period of time it takes to chop or type their hair based mostly on what they ask for. They may also obtain consultations, recommendation and assist in a confidential, discrete and welcoming setting.
“If you just take away gender and do it by the skill or the time then surely it’s easier and it makes everyone feel they can walk into somewhere and be accepted?,” Keri asks. “It seems really obvious but gender is something that the industry has installed as normal.
“It’s illegal in Finland to charge people based on gender. We’re so backwards when it comes to things like that. But the more we fight it, the more awareness there will be.”
Having come throughout Keri’s enterprise, Sam Marshall, the founding father of The Magnificence Guru at MediaCityUK, bought in contact with them final yr to ask them to attend a panel on the sweetness and hair business. The pair later got here up with the concept of teaming up on one thing even greater collectively.
“What Keri does for hair is what I am trying to do for the beauty world,” Sam explains. “I’ve worked with the trans community for quite a while and noticed how often they feel there are very limited spaces they can go where they feel safe.”
The Salford magnificence therapist, who can be a committee member on the British Magnificence Council, stated she knew there was scope to create a trans consciousness course that may very well be taught to companies in magnificence, hair and hospitality. Teaming up with Keri, she stated, was a no brainer.
The Be Trans Conscious programs are created with assist from the nationwide transgender charity Sparkle, with 10% going again to the charity. “We want to go right from where people start their beauty or hair careers in college right up to the top to the directors who feel they know what they’re doing and don’t know much about this,” Sam added.
“I’m not trans or non-binary so I don’t have the lived experience that Keri has. But together we talk about the use of pronouns, representation, misgendering – all the things that can really make or break that experience for someone.
“We’ve had messages from people saying they’ve since had trans customers in and they were so pleased to see they were implementing these changes. We’ve found that people don’t know what they don’t know. But it doesn’t just help with their work, it helps with their everyday life.
“It’s basically just about making sure people are treated equally and anyone who comes to that space feels included and welcomed. That’s all it’s about – being nice humans.”
Sam and Keri, who at the moment are in a relationship and dwell collectively in Manchester, stated it is very a lot a service that’s wanted proper now.
“I have clients who come in one name and leave another because they’re too scared to live their lives,” Keri says. “People will cry during their haircut because it’s one of the first times they feel they are being listened to and valued.
“That one hour with me in the chair is the only time many of my clients feel they can live their authentic lives. We are in such a powerful position to make people feel empowered about themselves.
“The feeling of looking in the mirror and feeling in your head how you look for the first time is something that’s so overwhelming and euphoric – It’s something I can’t explain.
“Launching this has helped my own journey. There was a time where I felt like I genuinely might be the only non-binary person in the world. But it’s been like therapy for me as well as for some of the clients.”
And Keri says that they need Hair Has No Gender to be one thing for anybody who feels the standard barber or salon expertise isn’t for them. “I want anyone to come to me – I’d even accept dogs if I knew how to groom them,” Keri laughs.
“I do know lots of people do not feel that comfy getting a haircut. There are cis, straight ladies who’ve been refused a haircut as a result of they’ve been informed they’re too fairly to have quick hair or informed they will’t get a pores and skin fade. We dwell in a really binary world the place issues are very male or feminine and I believe it’s now time to make these adjustments.
“I’m not attempting to eradicate what exists and it’s necessary that some individuals nonetheless have these choices, but it surely’s nearly being aware that there are others who perhaps don’t match that bracket and that they should be welcomed too.
“Seeing individuals being refused a haircut breaks my coronary heart for thus many causes and never simply because I can determine with how that feels. I would like anybody who experiences that to return and see me as a result of that might by no means occur with me. If that is one factor that may make somebody’s life simpler – the place they will really feel comfy having a haircut – then I am gonna do it.
“We educate ourselves on type and hair, why can’t we simply educate one another on methods to be respectable human beings and settle for each other? It’s old-school and it’s getting boring now – it’s time to vary.”