RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — A woman who identifies as gender neutral but leans more toward male qualities is considering filing a lawsuit against a men’s barbershop that recently declined to cut her hair.
Kendall Oliver, 24, began identifying as “genderqueer” after serving in the Army. The term is defined as “a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.”
Oliver also began preferring the pronoun “they” for herself as opposed to “her” or “him” in order to be gender neutral.
However, Oliver identifies more as male in her appearance, wearing men’s clothing and sporting a short hairstyle.
Earlier this month, she visited “The Barbershop” in Rancho Cucamonga to obtain a haircut and observed a woman asking for a trim. The woman was turned away as The Barbershop said that they only cut men’s hair.
But Oliver thought that it might not be an issue for her since she doesn’t identify as a woman and has short hair like a man. The Barbershop declined her as well.
“He said, ‘We only do men’s haircuts,’” Oliver recalled to the Washington Post.
She left, but then called the shop to try again a second time.
“I called back to try to talk to him and explain that I identify more male than female,” Oliver explained. “He said, ‘It doesn’t matter, ma’am. We don’t cut any type of women’s hair.’”
Owner Richard Hernandez told television station KNBC that he has “religious convictions that prevent [him] from cutting women’s hair” and that the issue has nothing to do with discriminating against transgenders as he doesn’t believe in haircuts for women at all.
“[1 Corinthians 11 says] it’s a shame for a man to have long hair, but if a woman has long hair, it’s her glory,” he said. “I don’t want to be one who is taking away from [a woman’s] glory.”
“We’re definitely not targeting the LGBT movement,” Hernandez also told The Guardian. “We simply don’t cut women’s hair. It’s a traditional men’s barbershop.”
Oliver posted about the incident online, causing a variety of reactions.
“Rip his [private parts] off in court, the transphobic piece of trash,” one follower wrote.
“While I do believe it’s right to refuse service to anyone, I do think his reasoning wasn’t very sound,” another said. “Anyway, there are plenty of barbershops out there willing to give you a haircut.”
Now, Lambda Legal is considering taking action in court against Hernandez for turning down Oliver.
“Religion can’t and shouldn’t be used as a shield for discriminatory business practices,” attorney Peter Renn told reporters.
So is Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“Whether I don’t want to cut the hair of women or of people who identify as men, but I deem to be too feminine, however you spin it, this is a clear refusal to cut hair based on sex or gender or perhaps both,” attorney Gregory Lipper told the Guardian.
The American Civil Liberties Union has made similar comments, remarking that California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination for public accommodations on the basis of gender or gender identity.