OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Getting a haircut may be something most people check off their to-do list without thinking twice. But it can be daunting for people in the transgender community to find a salon or barbershop where they feel safe and accepted.
Haircuts are historically gendered, with salons serving women and barbershops serving men. However, there is a resource for trans people that directs them to businesses across the country that consider themselves safe spaces for everyone, no matter how they identify.
Deviant Locks owner Pam Ranker said it's always been important to provide a safe and affirming place to trans people and the entire LGBTQIA+ community. She chose the name Deviant Locks as her business to represent her love for everyone in the world, no matter who they are or how they identify.
"I want all the people that don't fit in, and I want the people that don't feel like they have any place to go, I have a place for them," Ranker said.
It's been several years since Ranker listed her business on the Strands for Trans website. She doesn't ask her clients if they discovered her through the website, though some mentioned to her that it's how they found her business.
Ranker said many clients expressed gratitude over the years for providing a place they feel safe.
"They know that I can help them maybe tweak, or adjust, or go through that awkward hair growing out stage, or give them a more masculine neckline instead of a more feminine neckline," Ranker said. "I'm not going to be like, 'Oh, that's weird.' It's you, it's your body and your image and I'm here to help look your best, so you can feel your best."
A blue, pink and white barber pole sticker sits on the front door of Ranker's business. The colors represent the trans flag and symbolize that anyone who is trans will feel safe. She hopes to continue to spread the word about the website, which also provides a list of other resources for the trans community.
Just a few minutes down the road is another location listed on Strands for Trans. Jesi Lipp, who uses the pronouns they/them, has been getting their hair done at Hair Lovin' for 10-years.
"It's so great that there is a resource out there that lets people know this is a place you can go, that isn't going to look at you weird when you ask to cut it all off if you ask to style it longer," Lipp said.
Owner Dana Burton said she wants her business to be a safe space for those in the trans community and those about to be.
"Just not being judged and also just kind of having someone to go through that journey with you, to help you learn about what looks good on you as a different gender or non-gender," Burton said.
Lipp said gender presentation is complicated for people who are not in the trans community, and it is even more so for those who are.
"Hair is something that is deeply personal, and a very defining part of gender presentation, and for a lot of trans people it is very scary to try to figure out what is going to look good on you and also show yourself to the world the way you want to be seen," Lipp said.
For anyone beginning to transition, Lipp encourages them to put in the time to find a place that treats them right.
"Make sure that you are getting the respect you deserve and go somewhere that's going to embrace you for who you are," Lipp said.
This story was originally published by Emma James on Scripps station KSHB in Kansas City, Missouri.