These Trans Latina Cosmetologists Are Fighting For Their Sisters

March 15, 2019

When Lesly Herrera Castillo was diagnosed with three forms of cancer — brain, colon, and lymphoma — in 2014, she needed a work structure that would afford her more flexibility and support to continue her cosmetology career. She began discussing options with her friends, Joselyn Mendoza and Daniel Puerto, which would lead the trio to revisit a project they had dreamt about for years: Mirror Trans Beauty Co-op, a worker cooperative for trans Latina cosmetologists. “It was hard for me with no hair and my health being low,” Castillo says. “We started planning and it was slow, but every step was precise.”

This wasn’t the first time Castillo had to make a tough decision about her career. Back in her hometown of Hermosillo, Mexico in 1992, Castillo found it hard to land a job after graduating college. Her mother gave her an ultimatum: “Think of what you want [to do for work,] and this will be the last time I help you.” Enrolling in beauty school seemed like the smartest option because Castillo had worked in her older friend’s salon throughout her teenage years, discovering a natural flair for making others feel beautiful. “Sometimes he would have a lot of work and I started receiving requests like, ‘Go and wash this person’s hair,’” she remembers. “I started helping out with blow-drying, or he would mix the color and say,  ‘Apply it from here to here.’ I learned by watching.”

Read more at Out Magazine