I usually dread getting my hair cut. Part of it stems from the fact that I’m just not very good at standing up for myself and asking for what I want. So I’ll go, and they’ll treat me like a woman, and I wouldn’t say anything, and I’ll end up with a haircut that is, at least, short. And as it grows out, it’ll look more and more feminizing, yet I’ll continue to procrastinate getting my hair cut again because I don’t want to deal with the experience.
Well, enough is enough. As I looked at my photo in the Windy City Times, I realized that it looks much like it did over two years ago when it was intentionally feminine, and I just couldn’t deal with looking in the mirror and seeing that anymore. I was so close to just taking a scissors to my hair myself, but I knew what a mess that would be, so I gave in and called the Aveda Institute.
It was such a fantastic experience. I gathered my courage and told the student who was to be cutting my hair that I go by Ryan. We went through the typical routine about my hair (it’s ridiculously thick; it does its own thing; I just want it to be shorter). They flipped open a book for ideas, going to the women’s section. I cringed mentally and said that I’d been thinking of something sort of short and boyish. They go directly to the men’s section and show me a few options there. I tell them I’m up for whatever they’d like to do, as long as it’s shorter and doesn’t feminize me. They tell me not to worry, saying that they always ask for a women’s hairstyle, and people don’t always acquiesce, so they get what I’m saying from an opposite sort of direction. They also changed my name in the computer system, which was awesome.
Later, we talk a bit — they share that they’re going out tonight with friends to FKA, a big dance party held in Chicago every month (for “trans men and trans women and their chasers, queers and allies, movers and/or shakers”) that I’ve been meaning to go to for months. We talk about Boystown, which neither of us frequent very often, except for Berlin (a very trans/queer-friendly dance club — that’s probably an understatement, actually — that is a favorite of many of my friends and to which I’ve been meaning to go since I got here). They ask me what pronouns I use — this may be the first time I’ve ever been asked my pronouns in a non-specifically gender-related crowd or event. I was incredibly appreciative and, embarrassingly, taken back enough that I didn’t respond in kind (which is why I’m using gender-neutral pronouns). We bond a little over trans- and transition-related stuff. It was the last thing I was expecting when I went to get my hair cut.
It was a really great, empowering experience. For the first time since identifying as trans, I actually felt seen at a haircut — for that matter, out in public at something that wasn’t specifically trans-/gender-related. It was fabulous. And I’m pleased with how my hair looks. Definitely a win-win situation.