GA Voice

Cutting Things Short with Lyons at Cortex Hair Studio

- Adalei Stevens Editor’s note: Lyons uses he/they pronouns.

If you're anything like me, you tend to take your impulsivit­y out on your hair. Whether you're doing it yourself or going to the profession­als, nothing feels better than a new hairstyle that looks as good as you thought it would.

Hair has the power to completely transform, and it can be vital to affirming one's gender. For someone seeking gender affirmatio­n, a barber shop or hair salon can be the first stop. At least, it was for one transgende­r stylist.

Lyons Parker-Shockley, a stylist at Cortex Hair Studio in Virginia-Highland, was inspired to go to cosmetolog­y school after getting his first short haircut at a barber shop. He told Georgia Voice that the experience was scary, but said the environmen­t ended up being “welcoming.”

“The reason that I went to cosmetolog­y school was my experience of transition­ing and my experience of that first haircut and how anxiety-provoking that can be,” Lyons said. “It's my mission to have a chair that's open and nonjudgmen­tal.”

Cortex Hair Studio opened in 1989 in Virginia-Highland. Like Lyons, the stylists at Cortex are creatives, from writers to musicians to painters. For years, Cortex has been a go-to salon for the queer community.

Lyons said he'd like to see more LGBTQ people in his chair and the salon. Meeting and connecting with other trans people inspired Lyons to pursue his transition.

“Over time, I've gotten to know people who have made the transition. Those people made a huge difference in my life,” they said.

“Just seeing them go through it and seeing myself in them … I think that was kind of what finally enabled me to say this is me, this is something that would solve a lot of things. For me, [it solved] a lot of dysphoria that I've lived with for a very long time.”

Before they began their hairstylin­g career, Lyons taught and created art in multiple media. Of the shift, Lyons laughed as he recalled his teachers at cosmetolog­y school likening haircuts to sculpting.

“When I went to cosmetolog­y school, they referred to a haircut as a hair sculpture, which I thought was hilarious,” Lyons said. “But it is an artistic medium. It's more in the

range of, say, textiles or something. I mean, you are making a sculpture with hair.”

When looking for your next hair sculptor, Lyons wants you to do your research and make the drive to a queer-friendly salon, if you can.

“Do your research, take pictures and be as specific as you can about what you want,” Lyons said.

Advocating for yourself in any situation can be difficult, especially as a trans person in the South. Legislatio­n and religious doctrines have continuall­y targeted trans and genderquee­r people, but these attacks have increased enormously since 2020. Anti-trans legislatio­n surged last year at 600 total bills. These bills limit access to genderaffi­rming health care, updating government documents, and education and sports opportunit­ies. At the time of publishing, 544 bills have been introduced in 2024 alone. The Trans Legislatio­n Tracker reports that 23 bills have already passed and 16 of those have been signed into law since January. Despite affirming same-sex attraction and rejecting discrimina­tion based on sexual orientatio­n, the Vatican published a doctrine on April 8 “offer[ing] some points of reflection,” including restrictiv­e thoughts on gender. The 20-page document titled “Infinite Dignity” declares that, “any sex-change interventi­on, as a rule, risks threatenin­g the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.”

While “transgende­r” is not used explicitly, the rhetoric of this document reflects the increasing­ly discrimina­tory attitudes toward genderquee­r and transgende­r people.

“I know that transition­ing can be a very isolating and lonely place and just want people to know they have a friend and someone who's been through it,” Lyons said. “I would have felt less vulnerable, I think, going to a trans barber or somebody who'd been through it themselves. I think it's because there's this huge self-consciousn­ess to overcome.”

Sculpting a new gender identity as a trans person can be scary, so Lyons wants to offer his services to his fellow trans and gender nonconform­ing Atlantans. Follow Lyons on Instagram (@LyonsMane1). Cortex Hair Studio is at 1177 Virginia Avenue NE. Schedule an appointmen­t with a Cortex stylist at cortexsalo­­ts or call (404) 874-6913.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? Cortex Hair Studio hair stylist Lyons Parker-Shockley
COURTESY PHOTO Cortex Hair Studio hair stylist Lyons Parker-Shockley

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