Whether you embrace it or not; whether you agree or not; whether it offends you or not, this is now all part of the 21st century and it is better to have some understanding.
I think we all, as nail professionals, recognise the absolute need for diversity and inclusivity. Whether it is referring to staff or clients, we MUST NOT discriminate against any of the 9 protected characteristics named in the Equality Act 2010. These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or beliefs, sex or sexual orientation.
But why would we discriminate?? If an individual is good at their job, what does it matter what race or gender they are? If a client is willing to pay you for a service, does it matter what colour their skin is, what gender they are or what gender they identify as?
I see far too many ‘shock horror’ questions on Facebook that a woman has booked in for enhancements, for example, but she used to be a man! So??
A little education, understanding and human kindness is all that is needed. From a purely commercial aspect, there is a huge market that would love to feel comfortable and welcome getting their nails done or any one of a number of other beauty services and treatments.
Let focus on some of the common ones that pop up – gender, being transgender, gender identity and (what is STILL so scary for some) HIV.
You may have noticed that there is often in current times, a pronoun disclosure associated with a person e.g her/she, he/him, they/them (I noticed it on the recent Glow Up series for the contestants). I, personally, have come across this for several years as there are many fashion models that identify as non-binary or trans. I have to admit that the “they/them” pronouns took a bit of getting used to. If I thought I may have got it wrong, then it just takes the question “did I get that right?’ and all is good.
If such a situation does happen to offend you then you need to educate yourself on the subject further. You are the professional and they are the client. You cannot discriminate. End of.
For many that are trans it can be a difficult journey (as can a lot of things in life!) Being accepted without judgement is all that is needed. Maybe pronouns could be a useful question on consultation forms? It could help to avoid offending and it is common practice now in so many situations.
Let’s move onto HIV. This sits under the “disability” aspect of protected characteristics. Many of us will have been trained to avoid any clients with HIV, or, at the very least, treat them like second class citizens that will infect the human race. Well, times have changed!
I have invited Sam Marshall to add her thoughts in this Blog. She is such a champion of understanding HIV and LGBTQIA+ topics and is far better versed in this vast subject than I am.
SM : People living with HIV on effective treatment can now live a long, full and healthy life. Also, most people living with the virus are “UNDETECTABLE” which also means they are “UNTRANSMISSABLE” which basically means you cannot catch it off them.
They also do not have to disclose their status to anyone, and you should not be asking them. Logically if you ask the question, you will then need to refuse treatment to anyone who hasn’t had a negative test recently or someone positive who isn’t undetectable and have a valid reason on your risk assessment.
In short, their status is none of your business. If you encountered a needle stick injury, abrasion from a file that drew blood or another way of getting blood in your skin (you wear gloves for starters!) then you would follow the same procedure regardless of the situation.
It is actually really hard to contract HIV and there have been no known cases in the nail, hair or beauty industries. Ever. As for companies asking if clients have AIDS… well… you cannot have AIDS, you die of an AIDS related illness and you would not be trotting out for a quick mani!
If this question is on your consultation forms, please take it off. I have challenged many companies on this and not one has come back to me with a decent reason.
For further training on Trans Awareness, I have a webinar on 30th June 7pm-9pm along woth Keri from “Hair Has No Gender” priced at just £45.
To book just click this link:
To conclude: we are a service industry dealing with members of the public. Do not dis-count a vast section of humanity because either you don’t understand, or you’re offended. Every adult is a potential client. Welcome all, make all feel comfortable and welcome, even make a point of welcoming all the LGBTQIA+ communities and people living with HIV to your salons. They are paying clients who just want acceptance (and no, you’re NOT going to ‘catch’ anything’!)