A small hair salon in quiet Traverse City has been putting Michigan in the news for all the wrong reasons, and the internet has big feelings about the whole situation.
The controversy began when Studio 8 owner Christine Geiger, apparently inspired by the recent Supreme Court decision 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis, a ruling in favor of an anti-LGBTQ+ website designer, took to Facebook with a transphobic rant. Geiger’s declaration read in part, “If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman please seek services at a local pet groomer. You are not welcome at this salon. Period.”
While Geiger took the post and the studio’s social media accounts down when things didn’t go her way (to the tune of hundreds of super angry responses and angry-face reactions), we all know everything on the internet is potentially immortal. Like so much Canadian wildfire, screenshots of the post spread quickly, and a would-be localized story about a single anti-trans hair stylist in a quiet Michigan town soon had an international scope.
The internet did its thing, inspiring responses that continue to pour in, ranging from amusing to threatening.
In response to a Detroit Free Press tweet promoting an article about the salon being dropped by a hair product line, Twitter user @CTopia089 shared a meme that reads, “It was the fuck around of times, it was the find out of times,” attributed to Charles Dickens.
The hair product line, Jack Win Pro, posted a lengthy explanation about its decision to part ways with the salon on Instagram. “It has come to our attention that disturbing comments have been attributed to one of our product users,” the statement read in part. “We want to make it clear that we disapprove of and reject hate speech in any form. Such actions go against the very values we hold dear and strive to uphold.”
Responses to Jack Win Pro’s post have been overwhelmingly positive, including one from user @jenniferdezeeuw4597, who replied to the post, “I have been with the stylist in question for 13 years and had to say goodbye to her yesterday. I was gutted by her statement because I have a Trans child that she knows and has cut their hair. There is no room for this kind of hate. Be better, do better and above all else be Kind to one another.”
User @theriveroaksredneck responded, “THIS is what being an Ally means. Thank you for your prompt affirmation to support our community.”
Many reactions to news on Twitter about Salon 8’s bold announcement pointed to a misinterpretation of the recent Supreme Court decision. MLive tweeted a quote from a recent article highlighting the salon’s apparent misunderstanding of the implications of 303 Creative: “Now legal experts say that not only is the business misinterpreting a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the topic to refuse service, but that it may be running afoul of discrimination protections in Michigan.”
After the City of Traverse City published a public statement denouncing Studio 8’s anti-trans stance and promising to investigate the business, a Facebook group called Overheard in Traverse City posted a statement. While most responses were positive, a few Facebook users were bold in their support (but quickly rebuked by others).
When user Thomas Bucco responded to the post with “This whole letter is hypocritical. Freedom of speech and ability to trespass for any reason allows this. Your freedom to avoid the place should be your only response,” another user, Madyson Oster, shot back, “There’s a freaking constitution for a reason. First she won’t serve transgender people…then what? Black people? People in interacial relationships? Hispanic people, white people, asian people? You are not allowed to discriminate based on any protected class for any reason and this is EXACTLY why. Your beliefs do not trump the human rights of other people.”
And finally, over on TikTok, user @coolhairboi posted a lengthy video response to the news, teasing viewers with the status “Brb changing my business listing to ‘pet groomer’” in reference to Studio 8’s directive to trans people to use pet grooming services for their haircutting needs.
Later, the same user posted a TikTok outlining some of the virtiolic responses they’ve received about the video.