Famed hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons spent his 30th birthday on Monday with some of his famous friends to launch a trans cosmetic donation effort.
Fitzsimons, who has styled Adele’s hair and is the personal hairdresser for Kourtney Kardashian, is teaming with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to give brands, stylists, influencers and celebrities the opportunity to donate unused personal hygiene and cosmetic products to transgender and gender non-conforming people.
“Being a feminist and working in beauty industry, I thought for a long time about how I could give back to make a difference,” Fitzsimons told Vanguard just hours before a kickoff party in the courtyard of the Center’s The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.
“I get sent boxes and boxes of self-care and beauty products every single day and never know what to do with them except give them to friends. What do we do with all these products? Where could we donate them? So I decided to create this program and pool our resources.”
Fitzsimons has designated the Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project (TEEP) to receive the products and manage the distribution of them to its clients and to clients of various organizations that also serve the trans community.
Important for Workplace
Transgender people-especially trans women of color-experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment, which hurts their ability to buy hygiene products and cosmetics. Having access to these products is necessary for job interviews, professional networking events and in the workplace.
‘I think your appearance can be something that empowers you,” Fitzsimons said. “I think if you feel confident, you are confident. I think appearance can really go a long way in terms of feeling empowered and feeling confident. The more confident you are, the more you are able to step out into the world and be your authentic self and a member of society.”
Businesswoman, actress and transgender rights activist Angelica Ross was among those who attended the kickoff event and praised Fitzsimons for “thinking creatively and outside the box.”
“This is a fantastic idea,” Ross said. “Trans women face so much unemployment. I have personally worked with trans women looking for employment and one of the biggest barriers sometimes is wardrobe and make-up and feeling like you are able to present your best self to the world.”
Help from His Friends
In addition to Ross, celebrities at the kickoff reception included author Janet Mock (pictured with Fitzsimons, above), actress Constance Zimmer (UnReal), actress-writer Jen Richards (Nashville), actress-model Isis King and actor Jeffrey Bower-Chapman (UnReal) who is Fitzsimons’ boyfriend.
“Trans women really need the support of the rest of the community and allies,” King said, “It’s going to mean so much to so many people-especially at the beginning of their transition and especially if they are homeless. I’m excited about what he’s doing. He has friends who are trans so he really gets it. He thinks it’s important to give back and he’s doing that.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Gia Gunn performed two dance numbers and described herself as “a new member of the trans community.”
“I feel so honored and so happy to be here,” Gunn said. “My involvement and my journey since RuPaul’s Drag Race has been absolutely enormous and just so moving. As I go around the world and do these shows, I realized I have such a responsibility to educate the rest of the world on what it means to be transgender.”
The effort has already secured a commitment for donations from Alterna Haircare, Mane Addicts, Biore and L’Oreal.
“There’s no words to express how we feel about getting all of these donations,” said D Luna, a client advocate for the Center’s Anti-Violence Project and TEEP. “When the first donation box came by, it felt like a birthday. So not only is it Andrew’s birthday, but it feels like we are giving birthday gifts to all of our clients who will be filled with joy, happiness and appreciation.”
Addition to Center’s Transgender Services
TEEP offers a wide range of services to help transgender people find employment and to help make workplaces more welcoming to trans people.
“Our investment in this effort goes beyond cosmetics and wellness products,” Luna told guests at the kickoff. “We want everyone we meet to leave with a feeling of feeling beautiful and confident in their skin, we want everyone that we meet to feel encouraged to practice good emotional hygiene and self.”
TEEP is part of an array of services and program for transgender people at the Center. There are medical providers who provide expert treatment and consultation, legal assistance for name and gender change and support for those who have experienced discrimination in employment and housing.
The unused personal hygiene and cosmetics for the donation effort can be dropped off during business hours at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Highland Annex at 1220 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038.