Strands for Trans, the global network of more than 7,500 trans-affirming barber shops and hair salons in the U.S. has collaborated with Phluid City and independent ad agency Terri & Sandy to commemorate International Trans Day of Visibility 2023 with “Gender Euphoria,” a virtual reality festival celebrating transgender rights.
The event will also mark the launch of Strands for Trans as an official 501 (c)(3). As a non-profit organization, Stands for Trans will be a source of education and support to salons, as well as any business looking to provide a safe and positive experience to members of the trans community.
Featuring performances by Billy Porter, Chella Man and Lina Bradford, an exclusive avatar collection from The Phluid Project with a psychedelic-inspired trans flag, and opportunities to engage with an eclectic range of educators, artists, performers and influencers, the signature event will help raise funds for the movement to provide safe and affirming beauty experiences for the global trans community.
“We’re hosting this event because the trans community needs to feel uplifted,” said JP Gomez and Xavier Cruz, cofounders of Strands for Trans. “We can’t stop thinking about those trans individuals who live in places like Tennessee, Florida, and countries where they fear for their lives. We hope this event will bring some light to these dark times.”
The Phluid Project, which began as a retail space, has evolved to encompass a large wholesale collection, and is involved in educational programming and corporate outreach, among other things. The goal of Phluid City is to be year-round and offering programming that’s more life-lesson and more personal. The first, event, Gender Euphoria, takes place today.
“Basically, when people enter the space, they’re going to be greeted by someone from Phluid and someone from Strands for Trans,” said Rob Garrett Smith, Phluid founder and CEO. “They get this experience of 45 minutes of performances and then it’s education and conversation. At the end, they go into a room and get to meet people and talk about what they experienced.
“It’s the first step in the evolution of where [Phluid] is going,” Smith added. “It’s really well-programmed and everyone has their face on their avatar. You’ll be able to see your face. You just join [the conversation] from your computer screen. All you need is an email address.”
Smith said the timing of Gender Euphoria is exciting because it leads into Pride, a day-long affirmation and getting corporations excited about the possibility of doing something with the transgender community.
“Yes, Pride is important, but it’s also important to show up throughout the year,” Smith said. “The idea is that Phluid City will be open during key times throughout the year. It’s all about community. There will be product for sale, but it’s leading with community. That’s the future of this new space, creating community to counter homophobia and transphobia.
“I’m working for a place where queer people can come and their colleagues can come and their family members, and each show up for each other,” Smith added. “Every activation will be different and sponsorships will be different.”
Smith is planning to launch a Phluid better collection consisting of apparel, accessories, undergarments and swimwear.
“Phluid is going to be in about 7,000 to 10,000 stores this year across the country, mostly the PH by The Phluid Project label,” Smith said of the gender-free collection of clothing, accessories and beauty products. “It’s in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and launching in Europe this year. It gives me a chance to connect with the community without the overhead of operating a store. It’s creating a space for people to come together. It’s pretty exciting.”