Trans hairdresser ditches ‘archaic’ gendered price lists to help people ‘be their true selves’

Melissa Hamilton at work

A trans hairdresser has ditched gendered price lists to promote equality and inclusion.

Melissa Hamilton charges her clients based on what they need rather than their gender, doing away with the concept of men’s and women’s price lists.

Women’s haircuts are traditionally far more expensive than men’s. As well as making things far more equitable, Melissa says that a gender-neutral price list makes a salon more approachable to gender non-conforming clients.

“To know that a salon is aware or has some empathy towards trans and non-binary people, and that it is a difficult situation to navigate, is nice to know,” she tells PinkNews. “For the LGBTQ+ community the salon then feels like a safe space.” 

Melissa, whose salon Melisshair is in East Wittering, Chichester, says that many trans masc people struggle with going to barbershops.

“The anxiety and fear of going into a place and being sat amongst heterosexual cisgendered people, not knowing if they’re allies, causes worry of ridicule,” she explains.

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“Having these gender non-confirming price lists promoted will make it easier for people to call salons and be their true selves.” 

Melissa fell in love with hairdressing while at school.
Melissa fell in love with hairdressing while at school. (Melisshair)

Although she initially worried about how the change in pricing would be received in her village, Melissa says she has had an “amazing response”, especially from women with short hair. 

“I was overwhelmed with how many people said it makes sense,” she said.

“In the dentist you’re charged for the work that’s needs doing. Whatever hair grows from whoever’s head, it’s still hair, so why hasn’t the price structure been updated to reflect the work that needs doing, not just based on gender? 

“It seems unfair, especially as women tend to not be paid as much, that they have to pay more to get their hair done.” 

Melissa is also the co-founder of Chichester Pride – the organisation organises weekly meet-ups and promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion in the local community year-round, as well as organising an annual Pride event.

She grew up in the city, in West Sussex, where she came out as gay aged 14.

“At the age of 33 I came out as trans and that was within the salon I am in now,” she explains.

“During lockdown I was reading a lot of articles about non-binary experiences in salons and how they were going to be charged on appearance based on what the stylist perceived them to be. 

“Coming out as trans and being under the Pride umbrella, I thought I need to practice what I’m preaching.” 

“There is still an archaic male/female pricing as for men it can be quicker to do their hair, but men are much more metrosexual and pernickety about their hair than women these days, in my experience.”