While haircut policies in the Philippines are nothing new, photos of LGBTQ+ teens getting their hair cut to abide by their school’s policy have sparked a debate about discrimination and self-identification.
It began when a hair salon posted before-and-after photos of the long-haired youths and their subsequent crew cuts and short fades.
“Thank you for trusting us, anakshies, to cut your hair,” RR Valencia Salon for Men and Women wrote on Facebook, referring to the teens as anakshies, a term of endearment in gay lingo used to refer to children.
“I know you worked hard to grow your hair out but it’s still important to follow school policies while you’re still studying. Believe me, once you graduate, you can wear your hair as long as you want. You will be able to stand up to people because you have finished school,” the salon’s heartfelt post read.
The post triggered varying opinions on social media, even among members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
Some argued that cutting the teens’ hair was unnecessary and could harm their self-esteem.
“No to haircut policy,” one said. “Stop ruining student’s self esteem and depriving us from expressing ourselves. Hair policy doesn’t help us to get higher grades.”
“There are trans women out there who can’t even practice their degrees because of their gender identity and expression. They are forced to be who they are not just to get hired. Even if these kids comply now, there is no guarantee after graduation that they can live their authentic selves and choose a career they truly desire,” another argued.
Miss Trans Global 2020 and content creator Mela Habijan also called out the post. “What is wrong with our hair? What is wrong when a transgender woman wants to wear a girl’s uniform or a transgender man refuses to wear a skirt?” she wrote.
Meanwhile, others said this was a matter of discipline and compliance.
“Following school mandates teaches students to become law-abiding citizens. It’s like following their parents at home: the more they obey the rules at home, the more they become responsible and productive citizens,” one wrote.
“This is how it’s done,” another argued. “Teach students to follow school rules and policies. It’s basic discipline! Discipline is one of the first things a child should learn. Good job to these kids who know how to comply, not like others who talk about equality blah blah. Learn how to follow rules.”
Meanwhile, others exhibited more compassion towards the children. “Just hold on tight, babies, we will soon be able to live our truth and freely express ourselves. It doesn’t always have to be this way. Study well, as you are our future,” one said.
“Awww soon enough you will be able to follow your hearts’ desires. But for now, study first for your future. Nothing changes, you still look beautiful,” another wrote.