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5 Trans Women Open Up About Their Relationships With Their Hair

Our hair holds an incredible amount of significance. It’s how we showcase our identities to the world and allows us to express ourselves at every different stage of our lives. Through our hair, we’re allowed to explore who we truly are. The right cut and color help us feel comfortable in our own skin while being something we can easily adapt as we change throughout our lives. For trans women, this sentiment rings especially true.

During Pride Month, we chatted with five trans women from various backgrounds to learn all about their relationships with their hair, what they love most about their strands, and more. These are their hair stories.

Belle Bambi (she/her)

Selfie of trans woman Belle Bambi | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Belle Bambi)

Mane Addicts: How would you sum up your hair story?

Belle Bambi: Kind of like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, just like me!

MA: Where does your relationship with your hair stand today?

BB: It’s great and has come such a long way. It now gives me confidence and makes me feel beautiful. I used to always wear wigs to achieve that feeling, but I’m now at a place where I feel just as confident without wearing them.

MA: What does your hair mean to you?

BB: Well, it took a long time to get here. I started growing out my hair when I was 17 just after coming out. Before that, my hair was super short and damaged from at-home bleach. It took time and all these years to grow and nurture it to where it is today, so I’m super protective over it.

MA: What do you love most about your hair?

BB: I didn’t love my hair, as it was going through the growing stage. And my natural hair is brunette, which didn’t really represent me or my fairy vibes. After getting it to its healthiest, I took the leap and went blonde. Waking up every day with super cute blonde hair that I feel represents me is something that I absolutely love.

MA: What have you learned about yourself from your relationship with your hair?

BB: That some things need lots of time to grow… literally.

MA: What hairstyles make you feel the most confident?

BB: Curls all the way! I also feel super cute when I try to replicate Brigitte Bardot’s iconic half-up Bouffant hair. I love taking styles from other eras.

MA: What are some of your favorite products right now?

BB: My hairdresser and I worked closely on finding some great products for me to use after going blonde. We found that the B3 Brazilian Bond Builder range worked the best. And for curling, I love the Silver Bullet curling wands.

Trans woman Belle Bambi sitting on the ledge of a flower garden | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Belle Bambi)

Lana Patel (she/her)

Lana Patel in a traditional Indian saree
(Photo courtesy of Lana Patel)

Mane Addicts: How would you sum up your hair story?

Lana Patel: Now it’s fun, but it’s been a journey, a hero’s journey. Around elementary and middle school, I was getting haircuts, so I was groomed into it. I would always try to push my parents to let me grow my hair. Whenever we had picture day, my mom would always let my hair grow longer and style it. I loved it. I felt my best during those times. I had moments like that in high school too. I was enrolled in a very Christian school in Florida, so they had rules about how boys and girls could look and dress. They were very strict about grooming as well. One time, my grandmother had gone to England for a month, so I let my hair grow. I was styling my hair, but I would get picked on for it being longer. I don’t think they understood why my hair texture was the way it was, because I’m of African and Indian descent. My hair was different than other “Black” people, so I was constantly getting bullied. Then in high school, I experimented a lot with my hair. When I began my transition right after high school, the first thing I did was grow my hair out. That was my first wave into fully embracing myself and expressing myself the way that I wanted to. I felt my best doing so. I started to get a lot of peer pressure from my family about cutting it. They thought it was really weird that I wasn’t cutting my hair and growing out my nails. At that time, I didn’t have that conversation with them about starting my transition. I wanted to take baby steps and my hair was one of those steps. I did end up going to trim my hair a little bit, but it wasn’t as short as they wanted it to be, so there was still commentary. I was constantly being policed by others about how I present in the world.

In 2007, I went to visit my parents in New York. They started to question why I was presenting more feminine because this was when I had already started hormones, so I told them. After I told my parents about my transition, my mom connected me with her hairstylist. When I was sitting in the salon chair, I got a call from my step-dad asking where I was. He mentioned that the family barber was over, which I felt was strange because I didn’t consent to getting a haircut. I ended up getting my hair done, but I was so scared to go back home. I stayed out late that evening and when I returned home, my step-dad gave me this condescending look. The next day, he tricked me into being over when the barber was there. And the next thing I know, my hair is falling to the ground and the wind is hitting my head. I was heartbroken. I had struggled with the journey of embracing my true self. My hair was my glory, it was my femininity. Back home, everyone saw me as a woman, so I was concerned about how they would perceive me with my bald head. I ended up going to a wig store, but it hurt my pride to be there. I ended up finding one I could afford and that I liked, but it wasn’t the same as having my real hair. I used the wig for about a year until I started to see more progress with my hair growth. At the time, I was facing a lot of pressure from my grandparents to go to church. They said that as long as I lived in that house, I needed to go. The first time back, I wore a hijab, and an usher saw and said, “Hey there, pretty young lady.” I felt great. I felt seen and I loved it. When we got home, my grandmother said I couldn’t wear a hijab to church again. The next time I went, I slicked my hair back and that same usher just says hi to me. There was no gendered language. I did that for a week. One weekend, my grandmother said I needed to get my hair cut. I didn’t want to get it cut, but I was pressured into it. Once again, I find myself sitting in a chair with my hair falling off around me. I go back to the church with a blad head and that same usher who three weeks ago called me a “pretty young lady” comes up to me, shakes my hand, and says “Hey there, young man.” I felt disgusting. It was the vilest feeling. At that moment, I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. I called my girlfriend Erica who lived in Tallahassee. She was getting ready to go to London to get married. And she said, “When I get back, you’re coming to Tallahassee.” I crafted a very meticulous plan because I had a small window of opportunity to leave. I bought my bus ticket, I transferred schools, and packed everything that I own into two suitcases. Moving saved my life. Erica was my fairy godmother. When I moved out there, I was able to start my hair journey all over again. I didn’t have to hide or pretend anymore. I could be a woman all the time. I started growing my hair out, I started learning about lace wigs.

MA: How did your relationship with Erica impact your relationship with your hair?

LP: Erica was like the little mermaid. Her hair went down to her waist. She had beautiful, long, thick hair. I always wanted my hair to be like hers. I couldn’t wait for it to grow out and get super long. She didn’t see my hair for a very long time, because I always had a bonnet or wig on. I was always hiding my hair. One day I showed it to her and she raved about how good it looked. We went through the journey together. She had been there when I lost my hair, she’d been there when I was at rock bottom. I would learn tips and tricks from her watching her style her hair. I would learn how to do those techniques on my wigs and then also on my real hair. It was really cool to have another trans woman in my life. She’s an amazing sister and mentor. She was hair goals. I haven’t seen her in a while and the last I heard, she cut her hair into a bob. But her hair was immaculate. She had beautiful hair.

MA: Where does your relationship with your hair stand today?

LP: I just have fun. I was so tied to it. And I felt like it would make or break me if I didn’t have my real hair. Going through that whole journey of losing my hair, having to wear wigs and stuff, it taught me how to embrace the moment and understand that my femininity, my womanhood is not tied to how long my hair grows. I’m a woman regardless of if I have a wig on, if I have a weave in, if I straighten it, if I wear it naturally. So now it’s just fun. We live in a different culture now where almost everyone is wearing wigs, weaves, extensions. That aided in my liberation and the ability for me to just have fun and express myself through my hair.

MA: What do you love most about your hair?

LP: I would say versatility. I like the ability to cut it off, to grow it out, to straighten it, or to wear weaves or a wig. the ability to switch it up and not feel confined to a certain style is super fun. I’m really having fun these days.

MA: What hairstyles make you feel the most confident?

LP: I usually feel the most confident after my hair is freshly done. I used to work at a MAC and they would always tease me about knowing when I got my hair done because I’d walk in there like I was on the red carpet. I was on point, feeling cute, and ready.

MA: What are some of your favorite products right now?

LP: Ouai, of course! I love Jen [Atkin], I’ve been following her forever. I love her products. Guy Tang has amazing products as well. I love the L’Oréal Elvive line, especially the masks. I have taken hair from the brink of death and brought it back to life with that mask. My friend Brittany actually has a hairline that I love. It’s called Natural Beautiii. She makes this edge control gel that’s amazing, because it slicks my edges back and keeps them in place without flaking or getting crusty. A toothbrush and that edge control, we’re good to go.

Lana Patel in a gorgeous nude colored dress
(Photo courtesy of Lana Patel)

Rose Montoya (she/they)

Rose Montoya wearing a open tux for a headshot image
(Photo courtesy of Rose Montoya)

Mane Addicts: How would you sum up your hair story?

Rose Montoya: I’ve always had a really strong, really good relationship with my hair. It’s always been a source of confidence for me. I’ve always been really proud of my hair my whole life. And I just, I really love that. It brings me a lot of confidence. After my second puberty, after I came out as trans and started estrogen, my hair became a lot straighter. It used to be curly. Now, it’s just has a little bit of a natural wave to it. But I love my hair. I wish it was more curly, but I’ve always been really confident and felt really good about my hair. And I’ve always been told I have really good hair.

MA: What do you love most about your hair?

RM: I’ve never thought about that. I’m really proud of myself for my relationship I have with my hair. Coming out as trans, there was a brief moment where I didn’t have all of the confidence that I have now in my hair, because it was just so short and I wanted to grow it out. When I first came out as trans, I spent four months with hair shorter than a pixie cut. After just three or four months of being out as a trans woman, I decided to try extensions. And from then on out, my life changed in a big way. Having longer hair really feminized me and gave me a lot more safety. It gave me a lot more power and respect from other people. The way that people treated me was night and day after I had extensions. And what people typically expect for a stereotypical woman, I fit into this societal box of what a woman should be. It took me a long time to grow out my hair and get comfortable with styling my hair. That was the whole other journey, you know, of how do I deal with haircare? What do I do? What’s a curling iron? What’s a straightener? How do these work? I’m really proud of myself for remaining confident in myself and my hair and my relationship to it.

I’m continuing to love my hair at all its stages. It’s always about the journey and experimenting with what makes you feel the most confident. Now that my hair is longer, there’s so much more I can do. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring—dyeing my hair for the first time, having different haircuts, getting an undercut. I’ve had a lot more fun with my hair since I’ve grown it out and have been able to accept it for what it is.

MA: What was the journey like to find your style?

RM: I didn’t get to go through my awkward phase of learning what my style is, learning how to do my makeup, how to do my hair like most girls did in middle school. And so, I had to do that again; I had to go through that same journey of like, what is my style? What is makeup? What is hair? What is fashion? Who do I want to be? How do I want to present? What do I want to look like? How do I feel and how do I want to feel? I didn’t get to go through that one time, just in middle school like everyone else. I had to go through that again at 19 as an adult. Because of that, I’ve learned to reclaim my childhood and accept my inner child today. So much of my childhood was denied from me as a trans person. Part of that is exploring my appearance and playing with makeup and playing with hair.

MA: How have you been able to explore your femininity through your hair?

RM: Growing out my hair was so important for me in accepting my own femininity. My whole life, I was suppressing my femininity consciously and unconsciously. I had to process that trauma of being told I’m not allowed to look feminine. Doing so allowed me to step into myself and helped me realize I’m allowed to be exactly who I am, whether that’s feminine or not. More recently, I realized I was overcompensating to feel feminine enough. I needed to be pretty, I needed to look cisgender, I needed to do XYZ to fit that stereotypical mold of what a woman should be. Often, that’s not shown through trans people or gender non-conforming people. And so I started to question how do I reclaim my own femininity and redefine that for myself. I identify as non-binary. For me, that doesn’t mean androgyny. My non-binary identity and my femininity don’t have to be what people expect it to be. It’s my own. And I get to decide what is feminine for me. It just so happens that I still like makeup. I don’t like super dramatic makeup typically anymore, but I still love makeup. And that also means, I still love to have long hair and I love to style it. I love to curl it. I love to feel beautiful in my own way. And that just so happens to sometimes fit into what is expected of me as a woman or as a fem-presenting person. But often times, I challenged that. I’m not trying to fit into a box. I’m not trying to be a woman. I’m not trying to be feminine. I’m just trying to be me and who I am happens to fit into some of those boxes sometimes.

MA: What hairstyles make you feel the most confident in yourself?

RM: I feel the most confident and most beautiful when my hair has its natural curls. I love feeling beautiful in my natural self. That’s something that I fought hard to love and accept, just my natural self without any sort of modifications or enhancements, without makeup or styling. But I also really, really love when I curl my hair with a lot of volume. I to have the kind of loose, messy, beachy waves that have a lot of volume, especially in my bangs. I feel beautiful when I have volume in my bagns. It just feels good to me. And that’s such a good feeling when I can frame my face with a lot of volume and curls. It just feels wonderful.

MA: What are some of your favorite products right now?

RM: Dry shampoo is my best friend. I typically only get my hair wet once or twice a week, depending on my like activity level—which is usually low, I’m not a sporty, athletic person at all. I don’t really have to wash my hair super frequently and I prefer that I typically only wash my hair once or twice a week. So dry shampoo is my best friend because I can keep my hair clean and looking good and smelling good on the days that I’m not washing it. I also really love a blow dryer. I just had my first blowout recently, so I’ve been trying to give myself a blowout at home more often.

MA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

RM: I want to let all the readers of this article know that you are beautiful just as you are and you are valid no matter how you identify; you are worthy and you are enough. You are beautiful just as you are, I can’t stress that enough. You get to define what your beauty is. You got to define what your femininity is. Live your life for yourself and for no one else, because you’re perfect just the way you are.

Ve’ondre Mitchell (she/her)

Ve'ondre Mitchell posing on the beach while holding pink roses | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Ve’ondre Mitchell)

Mane Addicts: How would you sum up your hair story?

Ve’ondre Mitchell: My hair journey started off when I was a little kid with constant buzz cuts and mohawks. When I came out as trans, I needed something that could help me express myself and an important factor was my hair. My mom and I slicked back my hair into a baby bun, barely holding on for dear life with berets, and got a drawstring ponytail from the beauty supply store. Until my hair grew, I wore my extensions to feel more secure in my identity.

MA: Where does your relationship with your hair stand today?

VM: I still use my hair for security, though I’m working on growing out of that. The first steps I’ve taken for that are flaunting my natural curls and using protective styles. I grew an addiction to straightening my hair to fit in with the kids at my school. I realized that my curls are beautiful, along with being unique. But I haven’t straightened my hair since 2019—that’s three years!

MA: What does your hair mean to you?

VM: My hair means security in my identity. It helps me concur confidence on the daily.

MA: What do you love most about your hair?

VM: I love how many styles my hair is capable of, along with how much volume my curls can carry. My hair is gorgeous to me when it’s free and my scalp feels amazing in that state.

MA: Which hairstyles make you feel the most confident in yourself?

VM: I feel most confident in my protective styles, those could look like box braids, tribal braids, or just my natural fro.

MA: What have you learned about yourself from your relationship with your hair?

VM: I’ve learned that rocking your natural curls is a statement in itself and that just because a lot of people around you may not look the same, doesn’t mean I am not beautiful.

MA: What are some of your favorite products right now?

VM: Anything by Shea Moisture, but most importantly, a wide-tooth comb.

TikTok trans woman Ve'Ondre Mitchell wearing a blue two piece set | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Ve’ondre Mitchell)

Violet Jai (she/her)

Violet Jai with straight jet black hair | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Violet Jai)

Mane Addicts: How would you sum up your hair story?

Violet Jai: For me I always struggled with my hair. My hair is a big part of my identity. Being transgender, my hair feels like a part of me. I’m so happy I am at a place in life where I have options to make myself feel beautiful.

MA: Where does your relationship with your hair stand today?

VJ: Today, I love my hair. It has taken five years to grow it out to where it is now. Although I still wear hair extensions (I love inches), I feel comfortable in my own skin and hair.

MA: What does your hair mean to you?

VJ: To me, my hair symbolizes power. When I go out and my hair is flowing, I feel like I can do anything and do whatever I want.

MA: What do you love most about your hair?

VJ: I love my length, volume, and dark hair color the most. It resembles my Mexican and Native American roots and reminds me of who I am.

MA: Which hairstyles make you feel the most confident in yourself?

VJ: My favorite way to wear my hair is down and either straight or wavy. I love how my hair moves with me. I also love a good snatched high ponytail, leaving some strands out in the front.

MA: What have you learned about yourself from your relationship with your hair?

VJ: I learned to be fearless. Every trans individual is different. Again, my hair is a big part of my identity. I learned to feel comfortable being myself through my relationship with my hair.

MA: What are some of your favorite products right now?

VJ: My favorite products at the moment are Sebastian Drench Shampoo and Conditioner. Great price range and very hydrating if you have dry hair, like me!

Trans woman Violet Jai trans women hair stories | Mane Addicts
(Photo courtesy of Violet Jai)

As we close out Pride Month, we must continue to strive for inclusivity in our everyday lives. For salons, this should include offering beauty services for the trans community—HERE’s why!

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