New York barber gives custom cuts in LGBT-friendly shop

Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:49am EST
 
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By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For Ayanna, getting a haircut at her local barbershop in New York City meant having to fend off unwanted advances from the barber.

"He knew that I was gay but every time I went in he would constantly hit on me and try to take me out," said Ayanna, a 22-year-old student at a New York City college who declined to give her full name to protect her privacy.

A petite girl sporting short, androgynous hair, Ayanna said she started looking online for barbers friendly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community to avoid similar uncomfortable situations.

This is how she found Camera Ready Kutz, a barber service run by entrepreneur Khane Kutzwell that caters to the grooming needs of LGBT people in New York City and beyond.

Kutzwell, 43, started cutting hair in 2007, after many of her friends in the LGBT community complained about how difficult, and at times unpleasant, it was to get a haircut at their local barbershop if one didn't conform to gender norms.

"I have complaints that are posted on my Facebook page. I just recently got one from a trans male who keeps getting called 'she' instead of 'he'," Kutzwell told the Thomson Reuters Foundation while cutting hair in her Brooklyn apartment.

Neighborhood barbershops have a reputation as strongholds of machismo, and can be daunting for gay women, Kutzwell said. Women complain about not getting the haircut they want or of being refused service when they ask for a short, "boy-like" do.

As her business grows, she is looking to expand beyond the walls of her apartment and open her own shop.   Continued...