When I began working mobile, one of my first jobs was a family of four. I have been cutting their hair ever since.
Out of the two children, the eldest was fairly shy. I didn’t understand why because she was beautiful.
She had very long, thick hair, but she seemed to hide behind it most of the time.
When she became a teenager, she asked her mum if she could have her hair cut into an asymmetrical pixie.
After the cut, she seemed more confident, which made me smile.
One day, she texts me out of the blue and booked in to have a restyle.
It was unusual for her to book in without her parents or brother. I assumed she was just growing up but, when I arrived she said she had something to tell me.
She took me into the kitchen and sat me down. Very confidently, she said, ‘I have recently come out as transgender and I want all my hair cut short!’
It had never occurred to me before, that this teen was trans. Yet, at that moment, I didn’t feel surprised or shocked, even though it was something new to me.
I first met ‘Emma’ when she was five years old and watched her grow as a girl. All those years, I had no idea that ‘Emma’ identified as male.
We looked at pictures of men’s hair and we were both excited for the restyling.
The only challenge for me was, that I felt like I was still looking at the person I knew as ‘Emma’.
To me, this client was female. I realised that I needed to adjust my perception.
‘Have you picked a new name?’ I asked. ‘It’s Jared!’ was the reply with a big grin. ’I like it’, I said.
Problem solved! I became mindful that I was now dealing with a young man.
I set about gowning my client as a male customer. I used the barbers cape and layed out my clippers, trimmers and neck brush.
‘Are you ready?’ I asked. ‘Yes!’ Jared said. The anticipation in his eyes showed, that he just couldn’t wait.
He had already been waiting his whole life. We were about to embark on a pivotal moment for him.
The clippers whirled and soft locks of hair floated down to the floor. I sensed his energy and it was as though he felt lighter with every pass of the blades.
He wanted his hair long on top and styled with wax for texture. On completion, I held up the mirror to get his verdict.
I tried to hide that I was excited to see his reaction because that moment needed to be about him.
As he gazed at his reflection, something inside him clicked. His eyes shone, his face softened and his mouth fell very slightly open.
The identity of ‘Emma’ was gone. Jared saw himself for the first time as someone he recognised.
A young man. ‘I love it’ he said and kept moving his head around to see from all angles.
Watching the change in him was a rare moment in my career. It had taken only 40 minutes to change his haircut, but it felt like he had been re-born.
I was now looking at Jared. At that moment, my perception shifted and solidified. I could hardly remember what it was like to know Jared as ‘Emma’.
It wasn’t so much the appearance of his new hair style that made the difference but the way the haircut made him feel.
He felt, that for the first time, the person in the mirror matched the person inside. My favourite thing about it was watching that realisation in his eyes.
A groundbreaking day for me and more importantly, for him.
Jared now goes to the barbers for haircuts – something that he didn’t get to do as a child.
The barbershop is a place where he can relax and be himself.
I have never been happier to lose a client!