For many trans people, the day to day activities that those of us who are cisgender take for granted can often be much more difficult – and dangerous – to navigate.
In a piece for Dazed Beauty last year, Kuchenga Shenje described the fear and trauma she would experience on her trips to the barbershop, too afraid to speak or make an expression lest her femininity would be detected. “When hormones and facial feminisation surgery conferred upon me the privilege of passing as cisgender at least temporarily, I still had to do my best to detect the potential for transphobia from a phone call to a salon without actually disclosing that I was trans,” she writes.
Kuchenga’s experience is not unique to her. When hair brand Pantene polled 200 people who identified as transgender or non-binary about their experiences at hair salons, 93 per cent said they have been misgendered during a salon visit while 29 per cent of trans people report feeling stressed every time they visit a hair salon, and 24 per cent feeling anxious about it.
With this in mind, Pantene has partnered up with the Dresscode Project to launch a UK campaign in hopes of combatting the issue. Founded in 2017 by hairstylist Kristin Rankin, the Dresscode Project is a global alliance of salons and barbershops committed to providing positive, gender-affirming services for LGBTQ2S+ clients.
With this new initiative, Dresscode Project and Pantene will work together to create a network of salons where transgender and non-binary people can feel safe and comfortable. The campaign will support salons with resources and education and allow clients to search online to find member salons in their area.
To support the initiative, Pantene has created a short film featuring brand ambassador and transgender rights activist Paris Lees alongside Angela Ponce, Travis Alabanza, and Lea T about the importance of hair and how it fits with their sense of identity. The hair brand will also make a 5p donation to the Dresscode Project every time the video is shared until December 3, as well as donate 5p to the Dresscode Project for each Pantene product purchased at Superdrug until the same date.