Maria Elizabeth

Transitioning through Transgender

As a young designer, I worked at an upscale salon in a small town. I had a new client come to me for a color correction. Over the course of her appointment, I found out she was a well read college professor both interesting and charming. As she left the salon, one of the senior stylists said in an undertone," She's lesbian." I could hear the faint disdain and disapproval. I had spent a lovely two hours with this delightful woman talking about her partner, her children, her career and my colleague ignored her wholeness and human-ness, dismissing her with one word. That encounter made me think about how we should approach all people with dignity, respect, compassion and a desire to understand. As hair designers, we do this in many ways. One is in helping people transitioning from male to female or vice versa. We are image makers uniquely suited to offer help and support.

Transitioning is an insanely massive change on so many levels. One of the most important things we have to give is a judgement free space for people transitioning to share their struggles, fears, worries, frustrations, triumphs; everything they're feeling and going through. The salon can become a place to share information on support groups, therapies, social events, lifestyle tips and much more. Practically, we can offer makeup application lessons, give advice on flattering hairstyles, provide styling lessons for both male and female hairstyles, teach how to style and care for wigs, even offer guidance on wardrobe changes, helping to craft your image and integrate how you feel interiorly with what you see in the mirror.

It's hard feeling like you aren't who you were meant to be and there are a million ways to approach that challenge. All of us have faced the problem of identitiy at some point in our lives. While our individuality and uniqueness means we don't all approach that journey in the same way, we should always be willing to help our fellow travelers in any way we can with the talents and resources at our disposal.

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