GREEN BAY – When Donn volunteered to be beautician Caroline Quinn’s makeup model at Mint Salon, he wasn’t fully prepared for the feel of eyeliner first drawn along the lashline, nor for the audience who looked in amazement.
“It’s really weird to have something pushed into your eyeball,” he joked to the group. But when someone in the crowd said “wow” to her final transformation, he was quick to grab a portable mirror and see for himself a face with smoky eyes and eyebrows that he looked back.
Later, Donn, who asked the newspaper not to use his surname, told the Press-Gazette that he enjoyed the experience for the ways it demonstrated self-care and how it allowed him to free himself from ” boundaries of the male harness, “which he said doesn’t fit who he is and how he would like to identify himself.
“I’ve always felt confined to the very narrow path that men are supposed to walk. It just never fit very well,” said Donn. “That limitation really irritates me.”
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The audience group, most of whom were trans women, multiple genders, allies, and those who dabble in more feminine outfits like Donn, asked questions, took notes, and generally absorbed Quinn’s makeup tutorial the April 2, as part of the many small business stops organized for Green Bay’s Trans Day of Visibility celebrations.
Quinn’s role, in her capacity as the owner and beautician of Mint Salon, 1234 Main St., was to provide an inclusive beauty tutorial that could better guide trans women along the path of makeup and skincare regimens.
In addition to all the other struggles trans and gendered people face, due to harassment, isolation, loss and gender dysphoria – a condition in which someone endures the anguish or anxiety about their gender identity that it’s not in line with gender assigned at birth – some trans women also experience the daunting task of navigating the world of makeup and hair and not knowing a safe place to turn.
Quinn said she hopes people walk away from class by knowing ways to soften some of the masculine characteristics they may have been born with and learn how to better approach feminine expressions of beauty.
Also integrated into its tutorial and product tips, it provided ample opportunities for gender affirmation. She urged everyone to consider which of their characteristics they loved the most, “even if it’s just a little bit more than they hate any other part.”
“They all look really good,” Quinn told the group on Saturday. “I need to tell you that by coming here organically, you are already making some really nice choices for yourself.”
Mint Salon is part of the push for more trans-inclusive activities in the center
While this is Quinn’s first invitation to take part in Trans Day of Visibility events, coming to the aid of trans women is nothing new to her. And her role can mean the world for those scrambling through the legal motions of gender transition, like getting a new license.
Rachel Maes, Green Bay’s legal assistant, said that when she made her official transition to work, a phase that included listings and email updates with her new name, she booked an appointment with Quinn before going to the Department. of Wisconsin motor vehicles to take her picture taken.
“(Quinn) actually sat down with me two months ahead of time just to get to know me and hear my story and experience, to better understand who I am and what my personality is,” said Maes. “I was completely amazed that someone who provides a service like this would just meet with me in his spare time.”
For Maes and many other people who find themselves wanting a beauty change in a non-judgmental area, finding partners at Mint Salon and other small businesses along Main Street is critical to Green Bay’s growing LGBTQ community.
Emily Cubitt, Marketing Manager for Downtown Green Bay, Inc., said she is really proud to be part of the establishments that can invite and celebrate Green Bay’s LGBTQ community, especially on a major day like Trans Day of Visibility.
Sunrise on Main Boutique, Ra Imagery, Amphora Wine Bar and LGBTQ base, Napalese Lounge, also took part in the Trans Day of Visibility celebrations.
Frayed Knot, a boutique on Packerland Drive, not only attended, but was an ongoing refuge for trans people reconciling the coming out process with their spouses and partners.
“It’s great to see all the nearby businesses come forward and come together to show that we’re here for each other,” said Cubitt. “These small businesses want to bring people through their doors and they want to show that everyone is welcome.”
Along the way, Cubitt said Downtown Green Bay, Inc. is finalizing summer events that are likely to include opening businesses for future LgbtQ-focused events.
“People tend to think of Milwaukee and Madison as the only inclusive (LGBTQ) areas in our state,” Cubitt said. “We want to bridge this gap.”
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Natalie Eilbert is a government surveillance reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or view her Twitter profile at @natalie_eilbert.