Michigan hair salon faces probe for barring trans and non-binary customers

Government officials in Traverse City, Michigan, are investigating a local salon's discriminatory policy.
Government officials in Traverse City, Michigan, are investigating a local salon’s discriminatory policy.
Wikimedia Commons/Phoenix-Five

Studio 8 Hair Lab, a hair salon in Traverse City, Michigan, is facing backlash thanks to social media posts pointing to an apparent ban on transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive individuals. Owner Christine Geiger posted on Facebook saying that she was simply exercising her right to free speech, though her preceding words were alarming enough to spark a local investigation.

“If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman, please seek services at a local pet groomer,” she wrote on her salon’s account. “You are not welcome at this salon. Period.” 

In another twist, Geiger added that “LGB are more than welcome,” referring to lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, but then she said “the rest of it is not something I support.”

The comment —  which appeared to compare trans, non-binary, and gender expansive individuals to animals — was later deleted, but the owner doubled down on her discriminatory approach. In an interview with the Associated Press, Geiger said, “I just don’t want the woke dollar. … I’d rather not be as busy than to have to do services that I don’t agree with.”

Government officials in Traverse City said they are investigating the case to determine if an anti-discrimination ordinance was violated, according to the Associated Press. The case comes as the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a web designer who did not want to serve LGBTQ couples.

The city has a non-discrimination ordinance that includes protections for individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The actions of one business owner do not reflect the values of the citizens of Traverse City,” Traverse City Mayor Pro-Tem Amy Shamroe said in a written statement. “Regardless of any court cases decided since then, city residents voted almost two to one in support of protecting LGBTQIA+ rights in 2011. That is who we are. We are a community who welcomes all and stands with neighbors, especially our LGBTQIA+ folks as they find themselves under attack.”

The city said its attorney will investigate the case “based upon the relevant legal standards including the City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance as well as recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and State legislation.”

Meanwhile, reviews from previous clients have piled up, including from one queer person who said the toilet at the establishment was taped up.

“After I was there to receive a partial highlight and lowlight with a trim, I asked if I could use the restroom,” wrote one person who claimed to be a customer in the past. “They knew I was queer, which resulted in them leading me to this toilet… I don’t know what kind of cruel joke this was.”