VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Fighting discrimination, one haircut at a time.
Virginia Beach salon Darling & Dapper recently joined a national movement to make sure transgender people feel safe when they’re doing something as simple as getting their hair done.
That’s what Strands for Trans, the world’s first trans-friendly digital registry, is all about.
“I think no matter who you are, what gender expression you choose to present, just who you are in the inside, like everyone wants to feel welcomed,” says Katherine Taylor, a client of Darling & Dapper Studio.
It can be tough to walk into a new place to get your hair done.
Historically, haircuts have been gendered, with men usually going to barbershops and women heading to salons. And for people in the transgender community, it can leave them feeling unsure and unwelcome.
“It's vulnerable for I think, everybody and anybody who sits in the chair,” Vanessa Fegyo, a stylist at Darling & Dapper, told us.
Strands for Trans makes it easier for barbershops and hair salons to designate their locations as discrimination-free businesses. Locations are registered in all fifty states, and all around the world — including Hampton Roads.
“I just want to make sure that we have the biggest open doors possible for anyone that wants to be safe and feel beautiful,” said Elizabeth Darling.
Darling is the owner of Darling & Dapper Studio, one of 11 Strands for Trans spots in the area. She says it’s important for her to have a safe and open space for all her clients.
“Anything that we can do to be more inclusive and to make people feel good and better and welcomed,” Darling said.
“You come in, you want to feel good. You want to feel happy, you want to feel confident. And if you don't leave that way, then I didn't do my job,” Fegyo said.
Fegyo says it’s empowering to help people look the way they want to.
“I think being a person, a woman of trans experience, well, being a woman regardless, going into a new salon can be challenging. You don't know what kind of service you're going to get,” Taylor said.
Taylor has been coming to see Vanessa on and off for the past four years. They’ve built a friendship, and she says she feels good every time she comes in.