A non-binary Aussie who tried to get a haircut ended up being the target of a vile, transphobic rant, in yet another example of the barriers non-binary people face while trying to navigate the world.
Gabi Bartlett, 20, from Sydney, told PEDESTRIAN.TV they’d visited the Groomsmen Barbershop in Warringah Mall over the weekend, a salon that largely caters to men. They said they’ve visited a number of times before without incident.
This time, however, Gabi said a barber told them the salon didn’t “serve women”.
“[The barber] looked at me confused, and asked, ‘You want a full haircut?’” Gabi told P.TV.
“He proceeded to tell me that they ‘don’t usually cut women’s hair’. This shocked me as I frequent this barber and had no issues before. I said ‘Well, I’m looking for a men’s haircut’, and he proceeded to say ‘but you’re a girl’.”
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Despite his apparent misgivings, the barber proceeded with the haircut, and a few days later Gabi reached out to the barber to express their disappointment and distress at his comments.
“You did a great job, I love my haircut but situations like this make queer people uncomfortable and afraid, it’s why most of us resort to cutting or colouring our hair in our bathrooms,” Gabi said in a direct message to the barber.
“I hope I am able to come back to the Groomsmen one day without fear of being discriminated against and I hope you can understand where I’m coming from.”
In response, the barber – whom Gabi identified as Aaron Lagana – posted a vile rant to his Instagram Story, the videos of which were saved by Gabi and posted to social media.
“I had a girl come in – that’s right a girl, a female, a woman – come in and ask for a men’s haircut,” Lagana said on the now-deleted Story on his public account.
“It does not fucking matter if you’re requesting a man’s haircut, you’re still female. you still have female hair. If you’re a man who’s now gay, or whose had a fucking sex change, you’ve still got male hair. It’s still growing out of the male head.”
In another video, Lagana said:
“You don’t have male teeth. Bitch you have female teeth. You’re a girl. Everything you have is feminine. None of this ‘oh I’m gay now, I’m a male’, nah man you’re a fucking woman. I don’t care who you like, you’re a woman and you’ll always be a woman. You will always have woman hair.”
As well as being blatantly transphobic, the rant incorrectly equates sexuality with gender. However, as Gabi pointed out, their sexual orientation and gender identity have nothing to do with the fact that Lagana hesitated to serve them due to their “perceived sex”.
Lagana deleted the videos, explaining on another Instagram Story that “it got to who it needed too (sic)”.
He added: “I mean no disrespect to anyone if this has offended you, and I shouldn’t have to justify myself. It’s just a simple sign of respect. Like, take the cut and run. It looked cracker. What are you doing.”
Gabi posted the videos to Instagram to demonstrate that this kind of behaviour is “not okay”.
They said that since posting, they received a call from the Groomsmen’s owner, explaining that Lagana’s actions were probably because they were “being lazy and don’t want to do my hair”, and that Gabi was welcome back anytime.
“As a queer person it has been a big fear of mine to be turned away from an establishment due to the way people perceive me,” Gabi told PTV.
“Young women and young queer people should not have to second guess where they are welcome, we should not have to fear being ourselves.”
Neither the Groomsmen nor Lagana have responded to PTV’s request for comment.