“A GROUNDBREAKING VR CELEBRATION”
Strands For Trans, the global network of more than 7,500 trans-affirming barber shops and hair salons, will commemorate International Transgender Day of Visibility 2023 with “Gender Euphoria: A Global Celebration” the first-ever virtual reality event celebrating transgender rights. Featuring performances from Billy Porter and Lina Bradford, an exclusive avatar collection debut by The Phluid Project with a “Trans Lives Matter” psychedelic matching set, and opportunities to engage with an eclectic range of educators, artists, and influencers, the landmark event will help raise funds for the Strands For Trans movement to provide safe and positive beauty experiences for the global trans community.
The event will also commemorate the launch of Strands For Trans as an official 501 (c)(3). As a non-profit organization, Stands For Trans will be a source of education and support to barber shops and salons, as well as any businesses looking to provide a safe and positive experience to members of the trans community.
In 2017, Strands For Trans started as a public awareness campaign by the New York City based independent advertising agency Terri & Sandy and the co-owners of NYC grooming boutique Barba, Xavier Cruz and JP Gomez (Gomez is also a Creative Director of Terri & Sandy). Strands For Trans quickly grew into a global movement, as thousands of barber shops and salons around the world signed up on the first-ever digital registry of trans friendly spaces. Today, the Strands For Trans map includes more than 7,500 businesses across all 50 states — including Florida and Texas, which have recently been at the center of heated debates over LGBTQ+ rights — and 28 countries and counting, including the Netherlands, Finland and Australia.
“For most of us, going to a salon or barber shop makes us feel good, but for transgender individuals, it can be a source of anxiety and even danger,” says Xavier Cruz, Co-Founder of Strands For Trans/Owner of Barba Grooming Boutique, “Strands For Trans is making a huge difference to this community,” says Sandy Greenberg, Co-Founder of Terri & Sandy. “We wanted to celebrate International Trans Day of Visibility with an event where trans people from Idaho can come together with people from NYC and Finland, and even Afghanistan, where it’s illegal to be LGBTQ+. A virtual event makes this possible.” JP Gomez, Executive Director of Strands For Trans.
Gender Euphoria is a collaboration between Strands For Trans, The Phluid Project and Terri & Sandy. It will also feature an art installation from Chella Man, professional beauty tutorials, product demos and giveaways by key event contributors, and a magical space where attendees can go to “let their hair down.” The virtual space, which guests will access via invitation, will live on after the Gender Euphoria event as the Strands For Trans’ Global Community Center. The nonprofit will use the space for a variety of purposes, such as a virtual school, boardroom, and gathering spot for members of the rapidly growing network.
In the five years since its founding, Strands For Trans has become a powerful cultural force in the pro-trans movement. In 2017, the founders started sending pink, white, and blue barber pole window stickers to every business signed to its digital registry. These stickers have become a symbol of acceptance to passersby.
In 2022, Billy Porter and influencer Lynae Vanee released #TransphobeTakedowns, a video series in which they mocked anti-trans politicians like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Texas Governor Greg Abbot for their terrible hair, and even uglier policies. Terri & Sandy then geo-targeted these ads to the Texas GOP Convention, resulting in over 2 billion media impressions worldwide. The videos also led allies to the Strands For Trans website, where they could send pro-trans messages to their representatives.
Moving forward as a nonprofit organization, Strands For Trans will provide a vast array of resources—including educational materials and mental health support recommendations—for trans people and their businesses, as well as companies looking to serve trans people better. The group will have an executive board of nine people, primarily barbers and stylists, trans educators, and nonprofit specialists.
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