Trans man awarded €5,000 after barber refused to give him a ‘short back and sides’
A trans man in Ireland has reportedly been awarded €5,000 in compensation after a barber at a men-only hairdressers refused to recognise his gender identity and give him a haircut.
Lee McLoughlin, 28, gave evidence to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), saying how a hairdresser at Charlie’s Barbers in Dublin refused to cut him a “short back and sides” because he mistakenly insisted that he is a woman, reports TheJournal.ie.
After asking for a haircut, McLoughlin said the hairdresser responded: “We don’t cut ladies’ hair, I’m sorry.”
When he proceeded to tell the barber that he is a transgender man, he claimed that the hairdresser responded: “I am sorry, we can’t cut ladies’ hair. It’s a contract that we have with another hairdresser around the corner, so if we cut a woman’s hair, we will be fined.”
By this point, McLoughlin had waited for 25 minutes in the queue for his haircut.
He described to the WRC how the barber’s comments, which were said in front of the other customers, left him embarrassed and he left the venue “in shock.”
Adjudication officer Gerard McMahon instructed the case’s respondent, Paula Smith of Charlie’s Barbers, to give €5,000 to McLoughlin in compensation.
According to TheJournal.ie, McMahon said: “On the balance of the evidence presented …I conclude that the complainant was treated differently because he was transgender when he was refused a haircut by the respondent.
“This amounts to discrimination on the grounds of gender.”
McLoughlin also reported to the WRC that the incident resulted in him having an emergency counselling session.
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The trans man said the case “was not about money,” but instead a matter of principle – and to set a precent for other people who find themselves in similar situations.
In the barber’s defence, the hairdresser said he was told that the business lease meant the venue was not allowed to cut women’s hair – and he claimed that he did not know McLoughlin was transgender until he left the barber’s.
At the hearing, the hairdresser reportedly said that he “not intend to treat the complainant in a less favourable manner, as [he] would treat all women in the same manner.”
He added that he did not mean to cause offence, with solicitors for Charlie’s Barbers saying he had made a “one-off mistake.”
Posting about the case on Facebook, McLoughlin wrote: “I’m so proud to have helped set a precedent that will protect the trans community.”