This non-binary barber is helping other trans people feel safe in their chair
A non-binary barber became motivated to help trans, non-binary and queer people feel safe in a barbershop after some difficult childhood experiences.
C.J. Hernández now works at Furey’s Old Town Barber in Salinas, California, but when they were just 14 they were kicked out of a barbershop for not being male.
They told Monterey County Weekly: “That stuck with me. The life that I wanted and saw was unattainable.”
Hernández is now 50, and came out publicly as trans and non-binary a year ago.
They said: “It’s a totally new world. To think this would ever be possible and so supported as it is now, I would never have thought that as a kid.
“It’s a little bit late in life for me, but better late than never.”
Ever since their childhood experience, Hernández wanted to become a barber.
“I would tell friends that I wanted to be one, because of that experience as a kid,” Hernández continued.
“Sometimes we have to go through bad things to end up at the places we’re supposed to be.”
They also described the feeling of having a shave for the first time themself, the same feeling that they want to give to other LGBT+ people.
“I was waiting for that for a long time, to have that feeling that I’ve always wanted to have since I was a little kid, to see all those [shaving] commercials, it brought me so much joy, part of that kid in me who had been yearning for that experience for a long time.”
Hernández added that they and other barbers and stylists use the hashtag #safeinmychair to show that their services are LGBT+ friendly.
They also told The Californian that other barbershops can still be threatening places for queer or trans people, and that Furey’s stands out as a safe space.
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Owned by a female barber, Lelyn Furey, its policy on its website states: “Our products and services are available to all members of the public regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”
Earlier this year a barbershop in Los Angeles was ordered to pay $75,000 in damages after refusing to cut the hair of an HIV-positive man.
Hernández added: “There’s a lot that are very male chauvinist and don’t allow women or females to go into their shops.
“But with word of mouth and social media, and the force behind the shop, that’s the start.
“I have people who come to me who are cool transgender [people]. They feel comfortable.
“They don’t have to worry about somebody talking behind their back, the barbershop talk you hear. I’m proud to work here for that reason.”