Warning: This article contains language that may offend some readers.
A non-binary Australian person seeking a haircut says they were almost refused service at a local barbershop before being subjected to an abusive, transphobic rant on the barber's Instagram.
But 20-year-old Gabi Bartlett says the barber has since "sincerely apologised" to them and admitted "he didn't know what he was talking about".
Bartlett told Pedestrian they had visited Sydney's Groomsmen Barbershop on multiple occasions and had never encountered a problem.
But when they visited again earlier this week, employee Aaron Lagana allegedly told Barlett they "didn't serve women".
"He proceeded to tell me that they 'don't usually cut women's hair'. This shocked me as I frequent this barber and had no issues before. I said 'Well, I'm looking for a men's haircut', and he proceeded to say 'but you're a girl'," Bartlett recounted.
He eventually cut their hair, doing "a great job", according to Bartlett.
Posting on their Instagram, Bartlett revealed they later reached out to Lagana, messaging him to let him know his comments were harmful.
"First of all, I am nonbinary. And second of all haircuts are not gendered," Bartlett wrote.
"My hair is biologically no different than any other gender. I asked for a masculine haircut which you do. My anatomy has nothing to do with [this].
"I hope you can understand why this was harmful... situations like these make queer people uncountable and afraid."
In response, Lagana posted a series of videos to his Instagram Story in which he abused and repeatedly misgendered Bartlett, who saved and re-posted to their own Instagram.
"I had a girl come in - that's right a girl, a female, a woman - come in and ask for a men's haircut," Lagana said in the now-deleted Story.
"It does not f**king matter if you're requesting a man's haircut, you're still female. You still have female hair. If you're a man who's now gay, or who's had a f**king sex change, you've still got male hair. It's still growing out of the male head.
"You don't have male teeth. Bitch you have female teeth. You're a girl. Everything you have is feminine. None of this 'oh I'm gay now, I'm a male', nah man you're a f**king woman. I don't care who you like, you're a woman and you'll always be a woman. You will always have woman hair."
According to screenshots, Lagana also messaged Bartlett privately, telling them he "has more gay and lezzo friends than you do".
"I was good enough to cut your hair and charge you a tight ass rate and you still want to attack me for saying you have female hair.
"You're a f**cking woman man, and that has nothing to do with what private parts you chew on."
However after posting the saved videos to Instagram, Bartlett told Newshub Lagana had reached out to apologize.
"I had a long call with Aaron in which he sincerely apologised and said he didn't know what he was talking about and he'd like to learn more about the community," they said.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he took complete responsibility without any excuses and welcomed me back to the Groomsmen anytime.
They added they "couldn't stress how understanding and sincere he was."
An apology was also posted on the Groomsmen Barbershop official Facebook page.
"We as a business acknowledge and take full responsibility for [Lagana's] actions and he's also realised the actions which have affected the wider community," the post reads.
"[Lagana] truly wishes that Gabrielle is OK and is worried about the emotional state Gabrielle is currently in.
"The Groomsmen Barber Shop Waringah Mall invites Gabrielle and any gender or non-binary person through our doors to a positive environment and we will ensure that you are more than welcome as we pride ourselves on good quality service."
Amendment: Newshub originally incorrectly reported the owner of the Groomsmen Barbershop in Warringah Mall was previously arrested on cocaine charges. That detail has now been removed.
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