Getting a haircut is a part of life and something that everyone should be able to feel comfortable doing. Unfortunately, for those who are transgender, the idea of getting a haircut can actually be paired with anxiety. One website is hoping to change that.

Strands for Trans is a website created by a New York City-based salon called Barba. The site serves as a map of trans-friendly salons not just in the United State, but throughout the world.

Why Do Salons Need to Trans-Friendly?

For those of us who are cis-gendered, we may not fully comprehend why someone would feel uncomfortable getting a haircut. But, as points out,

Haircuts are historically gendered: Salons are for women. Barbershops are for men. This leaves the trans community feeling uncomfortable, unwelcome, and unsure.

Their hope is to bring everyone together to make the trans community feel more welcome. Read more here.

What Are Salons Doing to Be Trans-Friendly?

What Strands for Trans is asking is actually incredibly simple. If a salon wants to mark its space as a safe place for the trans community, they can request a pink, white, and blue barber pole sticker to place in their window. It's a very easy way to send the message of, "Hey! You are welcome here." As well, that salon can be added to Strands for Trans interactive map detailing all of the trans-friendly salons throughout the world.

There are over 30 transgender-friendly salons in mitten state with 8 being located in West Michigan. Specifically, Grand Rapids and the Kalamazoo area:

Grand Rapids

1. An Rua Salon

An Rua is a contemporary boutique salon in Downtown Grand Rapids. They focus on the individual experience, continuing education for their stylists, and creating an atmosphere of trust and understanding. Whether it's a simple cut or an elaborate coloring, like the one above, you can find it at An Rua. Learn more on their website or Facebook page.

2. Refinery Skin and Body

Refinery Skin and Body focuses more on removing hair than styling it. They offer all-inclusive sugaring hair removal as well as custom skincare and therapeutic bodywork. Bodywork includes sugaring on your back, chest, etc. You can find them on Facebook or schedule online here.

3. Outlook Barber Shop & Salon

Not only is Outlook Barber Shop Queer and Trans friendly but, it's Queer & Latinx owned & operated. They also use natural products and focus on being eco-friendly too. Here, stylists and barbers work side-by-side to give you everything you need to feel confident about yourself and your style, according to their website. Their website does offer online appointment scheduling or you can find them on Facebook.

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4. Otto + Grand

Otto + Grand is a full-service salon offering not just hair cuts and coloring but, microblading, eyelash and make-up services, and bridal services too. You can read more about their team, find their pricing, and more on their website. Or, find them on Facebook.

5. E + L Salon 

E + L Salon's mission is to, "elevate + love those around us on a genuine level of understanding and appreciation for your individual beauty," according to their Facebook page. Aside from offering regular hair services, they're also a certified sustainable salon. You can find more information on services offered, book your appointment, and their mission to be green on their website. Or, find them on Facebook.

Kalamazoo Area

1. The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room acts as a full-service barbershop and boutique all in one place. Their boutique does seem to focus on men's or masculine products like men's apparel, watches, and footwear. Located in downtown Kalamazoo, you can find a list of all of their products and services on their website or Facebook page.

2. Brumley & Co. Hair Studio

Brumley & Co. Hair Studio is located just off of W. Main Street in Kalamazoo and, according to their Facebook page, they are, "Putting a modern edge on the salon experience." Find their hours and more on their website.

3. Alder Hair Studio

One of the newer salons in the Kalamazoo area, Alder Hair Studio opened in 2021. They are a full-service salon and focus on bridal make-up and hair services too. On their website, they say, "We like plants, good music, and good hair." And, who doesn't? You can find their location, hours, full list of services, and more on their website or Facebook page.

You can see the full map showing all trans-friendly salons in Michigan, and the rest of the country, here.

As well, if you're not a salon but would like to show your support, Strands for Trans suggests:

  • sharing the hashtag #strandsfortrans, videos, and posts on social media
  • turn your social profiles pink, white, and blue. (They also have a downloadable transgender barbershop pole you can add to your profile picture.)
  • ask your stylist to place a pink, white, and blue barbershop pole in their window

As stated earlier, I am a cis-gendered person. And, with that, I could never understand the discrimination the trans community faces, the backlash they face, or the hurdles they have to jump over just to be themselves.

Hopefully, more and more salons and barbershops will join in Strands for Trans' efforts to cultivate a more welcoming environment not just in Michigan, but throughout the United States.

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