Sick of homophobia at the barbershop, she responded by buying a pair of scissors.

Dez Marshall first cut her hair short in high school.  It was a look she loved for herself, and one she had to fight for when she decided to try out a new barbershop in college.

Photo by Dez Marshall. Images used with permission.

"I was trying to explain to them that I just want something really low, wanted a nice shape-up, and the barber was like, ‘Oh, you want the lesbian haircut?'" Marshall said.


It wasn't the first time she felt uncomfortable in a barber's chair, and it wouldn't be the last.

"Being a woman, being queer, there’s a lot of weird questions that different barbers would ask me that just felt really invasive."

Marshall graduated and moved to New York City, where she found a job as an organizer — mentoring queer youth of color and advocating for their safety and access to public spaces. As she got to know her colleagues, she was struck by how many of them had similar stories: encounters with well-meaning but clueless stylists who were confused when their requests didn't match the stylist's own expectations about how they should want to look. Prurient questions about their dating lives. Dirty looks from other customers.

Marshall decided to take matters into her own hands — and bought herself a pair of clippers.

Marshall began cutting hair in 2013 with the goal of offering her queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming customers a stylish, no-drama trim.

Marshall at barber school in 2013. Photo by Dez Marshall/Instagram.

She currently works at The Gamesman — an established barbershop on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn — where her predominately young, LGBTQ clients mix comfortably with a large contingent of old-timers.

Marshall, initially nervous that friction might develop with the shop's older clientele, attributes her success at integrating to her former boss, Frank Shami, who passed away in August.

"Frank was very old-school, but Frank also lived by this code of: You respect people and people respect you," Marshall said.

Marshall quickly established herself at The Gamesman, with Shami as mentor, talking up her skills and frequently complimenting her clients' cuts. Though she sometimes argues politics with the other customers in the shop, Marshall says her fellow barbers and most of the regulars have embraced her presence there — and more importantly, have made room for her clients to be themselves and chat openly about their lives without judgment.

Marshall and client Milo. Photo by Dez Marshall/Facebook.

"It always makes everything easier when you don’t have to fight or prove to someone that you belong in the space," she said. "Frank just welcomed everybody. That made my job a lot easier."

With Shami's death, Marshall plans to move from The Gamesman to Colleen's House of Beauty, a few blocks away.

"It’s hard for me to remember my pre-Dez haircut time," said Emmett Findley, one of Marshall's long-time clients.

Growing up in Michigan, Findley, who identifies as trans, often struggled to reconcile his gender identity with his outward appearance, which he felt "didn't match up." He found Marshall through a Facebook networking group for LGBTQ New Yorkers after moving to Brooklyn eight years ago, and he credits her for finally giving him the haircut that he "wanted but didn’t even know that I wanted."

"The more masculine a haircut for me, the more masculine I can present, which is what I’m going for," Findley said. "It can help me feel safe in spaces where, historically, I haven’t felt so safe."

Emmett Findley, with post-Marshall hair. Photo by Emmett Findley.

Working with a barber who understands that, he said, helps him feel confident in his presentation and experience. Since finding Marshall, getting his hair cut, which was something he only used to do when necessary, has become a source of enjoyment for the Brooklynite.

“Now I go really regularly. It’s a form of my own personal self-care. I go every two weeks without fail. I put it in my budget."

Though Marshall will "cut anybody that wants to sit in her chair" — she sees a number of straight, cis clients as well — creating a nonjudgmental space for her LGBTQ customers to let their guard down is a critical part of her work.

"It’s really nice to enter a community space where you feel seen and your voice matters," Findley said.

Marshall said she takes special care to ask new clients for their preferred gender pronouns, how they want their hair to look, and about what sort of experiences they've had with past barbers or stylists to ensure she doesn't repeat mistakes. Conversations with customers are often "surface level" at first, but her goal as those relationships develop and deepen for the 20 to 40 minutes they're in her chair is to make her clients feel safe discussing everything from their relationships to struggles with their gender identity to medical treatments.

That sense of openness and intimacy, she said, can be hard for her LGBTQ clients to find — not just in barbershops and salons, but in too many spaces, public and private.

"[As] you start seeing these people on a weekly basis or a monthly basis for a year or more, you become part of each others' lives in different ways," Marshall said. "And no one should have to censor their lives because others might feel uncomfortable."

Making room for those conversations and helping her clients achieve looks that boost their confidence, Marshall said, is why she sees cutting hair as an extension of her advocacy for her community — one that allows her to make a real difference in people's lives.

Marshall with a client. Photo by Dez Marshall/Facebook.

"As an organizer, you can be working for years and never achieve a win on the issues that you’re organizing around. With cutting hair, I achieve a win after every single client."

For her customers, the appeal is even more obvious.

"I get complimented all the time on my hair, and I’m glad to have that on record," Findley said.

True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

via Wikimedia Commons and Ted Eytan / Flickr

There has been a tide of anti-trans paranoia washing over America's red states during the past year. Thirty-five bills have been introduced by state legislators to limit or prohibit transgender women from competing in women's athletics. There were only two in 2019.

However, this week has seen some significant pushback in multiple states.

Republican North Dakota governor Doug Burgum surprised a lot of people by vetoing a bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in women's sports.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.