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Barber strives to provide welcoming space for clients regardless of gender identity

NEW YORK — A professional barber is striving to make the barbershop, often known as an "all boys" club, a comfortable environment for everyone regardless of their gender identity.

Before becoming a professional barber, Dez Marshall was a community organizer that worked with LGBT youth. But when it came to her own identity, expression and especially her hair, “it was really difficult to find a barber who was going to cut my hair as a queer woman of color and not give me an issue with it,” Marshall said.

“Some barbers asked me really invasive questions, [while] others, they were just rude," Marshall said.

“I bought my own clippers and started cutting my own hair."

Next, Marshall decided it was time to turn the tables on the traditional notion of a barbershop as an all boys club.

“It can be a traumatic experience when you’re walking into a space and folks are kind of...they want you to justify your existence to them instead of them just giving you the service you’re paying for," Marshall said.

Marshall now cuts hair in downtown Brooklyn at Colleen’s House of Beauty. Her goal is to provide a safe space for clients, regardless of their gender expression.

Client Sophia Pasaquis told PIX11 News after a recent haircut with Marshall, “I came here with no fear knowing that it’s going to be good no matter what it feels good and welcoming and makes you more embrace the experience than be fearful of it.”