Having brought Lady Gaga’s fabulously queer Born This Way in 2011 with the little money I had as a 12-year-old, Hair continues to be one of my most-loved tracks on the record, as Gaga triumphantly exclaims: “I am my hair”, before being accompanied by an ‘80s-inspired dance beat. Although many of the songs on this particular album are explorations of identity and self-confidence, this infectious yet heartfelt song is a reminder of the importance that our hair harbours in relation to our freedom of self-expression.
With Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s iconic character Fleabag also affirming that hair is everything, it’s no wonder that many of us view our hair as a visual translation of our inner selves. For the LGBTQ+ community in particular, autonomy over our personal presentation has been a lifeline, as many queer people have found joy in transforming their hair to reflect their identity.
Trans icon Elliot Page even told Time magazine that he “could not have enjoyed it more” when he cut his hair to reflect his gender identity.
In celebration of unapologetic self-expression, LGBTQ+ people and allies share their thoughts on stylistic individualism and stories of what their hair means to them:
“Before I transitioned, I began to grow my hair out as it expressed my identity more effectively. When I came out, I felt more feminine and more in tune with my actual gender identity as this style is associated with feminine attributes. I’ve now started to style my hair in more feminine ways, as it’s an explicit visual representation of my identity and has also made me feel more confident in the process.” – Robin (she/her)
“The media tells us that we need to look a certain way to present as a certain gender, so young queer people probably feel pressure to look a particular way. We should all just be able to express themselves however we like because no matter what your hair looks like, you’re still beautiful!” – Tallulah (they/them)
“I believe hair is a canvas for individuals to not only express their creativity but to use it as a medium to experiment with their own image, without any long-term commitment. There’s an endless number of things you can do with hair, and its versatility can allow trans, non-binary and queer identities to discover what style they feel best reflects their identity.
“I’ve witnessed many friends using hair as a stepping stone during their transition, and the positive impact it has on the perception of their own image – boosting confidence and helping those feel more comfortable with themselves.” – Kristian (he/him)
“I always felt pressure to cut my hair just to make sure I got gendered correctly pretestosterone – I had long, thick, naturally wavy hair, so cutting it was hard, but then I’d start getting gendered correctly so the gender euphoria I felt was amazing. Now I’m a lot further down my transition and I feel I can do a lot more, including shaving my head, dyeing it… and who knows? Maybe I’ll grow it long again when I have a bit more facial hair.” – Ethan (he/him)
“Growing up, I went to an all-girls school, so most of my friends were girls and there was always this expectation on me to be more ‘feminine’, even though femininity never resonated with me. It was only at the beginning of 2021 that I told my best friend that I thought I was non-binary, and I cut a lot of my hair off. After that haircut, I truly felt more like myself. I have now gotten a binder and have gained the confidence to wear what I want, and it’s all because someone cut my hair and allowed me to feel safe in my own skin.” – LJ (they/he)
“I cut my hair over five years ago. I first cut it into a bob, but I knew straight away that wasn’t enough and got it all chopped off. That’s what confirmed my gender identity to me because I felt so much better for having hair that reflected who I truly am. Now, I only see it as hair, but back then it really was a big deal for me.” – Riley (he/him)
“As a stealth trans man, I prefer to keep my hair simple and masculine – partly to blend in and partly because that’s how I feel most comfortable. To be honest I barely give it a thought. However, since starting testosterone, body hair has become incredibly important to me. Watching my snail trail grow was the best thing to ever happen to me – I couldn’t shut up about it!
“Every part of my body gets a little hairier and I start to like it a little more. Even all those weird long shoulder hairs. And of course, I have very high hopes for my tiny moustache. Body hair makes me feel more like a man, more comfortable with myself and around other people.” – Anonymous (he/him)
“My hair isn’t really specific to one gender, so it allows me to be more fluid genderwise. Plus, it’s long so I can headbang like a motherf**ker!” – Shea (he/she/they/them)