RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — A men’s barbershop in California has agreed to a settlement with a woman who identifies as “gender neutral” who filed a lawsuit last year after being denied a haircut because she is not a man.
Under the terms of the settlement, signed by both parties, Richard Hernandez, owner of The Barbershop, admits to violating California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and agrees to serve all who request a haircut.
“Kendall’s sex shouldn’t have mattered. No one should experience the gut-punch of being told they won’t be served by a business open to the public,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said of the men’s barbershop in a statement on Wednesday.
As previously reported, Kendall Oliver, 25, 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.
Last March, 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 workers 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.’”
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.”
But under the settlement, Hernandez has agreed to not turn anyone away for a haircut despite being a men’s barbershop.
“The Barbershop admitted that it broke the law, and we are relieved that it will no longer use religion as a basis to discriminate against customers or to impose gender stereotypes about how a person must look,” Renn remarked. “The fact that discrimination in the public sphere may be religiously motivated doesn’t make it any less harmful to the person on its receiving end.”
Hernandez has not released a statement at this time.