Hair has the power to transform, which is why a local business will be giving complimentary haircuts as part of the Gender Free Haircut Club.
The Gender Free Haircut Club is a one-day event which will provide a free service to residents part of the LGTBQ2S+ community.
“We’re providing complimentary haircuts to those folks in particular who might not feel comfortable walking into a traditional salon or barber shop environment," said Julie Baribeau, the owner of Reverie, a hair studio in Guelph.
"Sort of celebrating being able to give and receive those kinds of haircuts, where there isn’t judgment involved and they’ll walk out with a haircut that makes them feel 100 per cent heard.”
Baribeau explains hair is also a good starting point to explore gender identity.
"It’s a temporary, constantly changing, growing thing that you can play with and have fun with," she said.
On June 12th, Baribeau explains registered participants will come to the Reverie between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a haircut. Each participant will get an hour long appointment which involves a consultation, wash and cut.
"It's similar to how my business is run, so I want to make sure that there is plenty of time, so people don't feel like they're being rushed," said Baribeau, who will have three other stylists helping out the day of the event."I hope that people leave feeling seen, heard, validated and like they got a haircut that makes them feel like a million bucks."
Reverie is not the only business participating in the event. A network of over 50 salons and shops across Canada and the United States will also be taking part in the Gender Free Haircut Club.
The event is a part of the Dresscode Project, a global alliance of salons and shops committed to providing positive, gender-affirming services for LGBTQ2S+ clients.
Baribeau said she learned about the Dresscode Project a while back, and signed up to become a member. As a member, participants pay membership fees, attend workshops and are provided educational materials to create an inclusive space.
"They do provide a lot of education and understanding, you can have people visit your salon and teach your whole staff how to understand using pronouns, and even something as small as wearing a pronoun pin, I now have a pronoun pin on my apron," said Baribeau. “It’s been worth it to learn how to be safer for people."
With the Gender Free Haircut Club, Baribeau hopes participants will know that things are changing within the industry, even if it's slowly.
“There’s a lot of modernizing we’re needing to do," said Baribeau, who has been cutting hair for over 20 years.
Baribeau opened her hair studio in 2020 after almost leaving the industry during the pandemic. Changing the way she operated as a hairstylist, she said she had regained her passion for the industry, and it is a powerful moment for her to give clients a transforming haircut.
"I had someone last week say they have always seen my 'after' pictures on Instagram, and how they are smiling, and at the end of her service was like, 'I get it now,'" said Baribeau. "It's profound that I get to do that."