Visibili-T is dedicated to transgender members of our community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, some you know and many you don’t. It is designed to amplify their voices and detail their experiences in life.
This issue, we check in with Miranda Richards, a St. Petersburg-based hairdresser and barber who works at Tyler’z Babershop. The LGBTQ+ staple is a fan favorite in the region because of stylists like her, regularly winning Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence.
“I love the fact that the hair industry is always changing and evolving,” Richards says of her craft. “I’m also so happy working at an LGBTQ-owned and operated business where I can always be my authentic self.”
That isn’t always easy to do for people who are LGBTQ+, especially those who are trans. It’s a challenge others may not fully comprehend.
“It can be hard to find work,” Richards explains. “People don’t understand this life and some have an awful point of view. I’ve had job offers revoked once I’ve disclosed that I am trans.”
Thankfully she’s had support for most of her life. It began at home in her youth, where she never had to come out.
“I never had to tell anyone,” Richards says. “My parents knew who I was before I did and never pressured me to be anyone different.”
It helped shape her into someone who embraces change, evident in her decision to move from the United Kingdom to the United States in the late ‘90s.
Richards initially relocated to Michigan with one of her dearest friends. She’s originally from Daventry — a civil parish in Northamptonshire, England — and later lived in Colorado and New York before settling into Tampa Bay. That’s where she found her community in 2017.
“I love how quick we are to come together to support each other in times of need,” she says. “I’ve participated in many fundraisers and charity events helping people when they’ve been sick or raising funds for organizations like Metro Inclusive Health.”
Locals may also know her as Miranda Marie Sugarbaker for that reason, Richards’ alter ego in drag. She’s been influenced by Bette Midler, Joan Rivers and Adele, on full display in her comedic and captivating performances at fan favorite venues throughout Tampa Bay.
“My drag is glamorous and it’s a touch old school,” Richards says. “I prefer big hair and glamorous gowns over leotards and pussycat wigs. I’m bold and brash and my comedic skills are outrageous!”
She’s had a lifetime of practice for that.
“I’ve always been a performer, playing dress up and creating characters since I was a child,” Richards notes. “The stage and theatre led me to drag — I never wanted to play the cowboy, I wanted to be the saloon girl! Drag was natural for me. It led me to my community and it led me to be the woman I am today.”
That woman is someone who understands that in every job that must be done — from cutting hair to hosting Drag Bingo to participating in Visibili-T, where she first mused her pronouns were “Cash App and Venmo” — there is an element of fun. She learned it from “Mary Poppins,” her favorite film.
“I even had her tattooed on my arm,” she says of the Disney classic’s titular character, based on the beloved book series of the same name. “My mantra in life comes from ‘Mary Poppins.’ At one point in the film she says, ‘I never explain anything,’ and I think we all should be that way.”
Thankfully, Richards was ready to explain a few things for Visibili-T. She jokingly says it was because “I was asked and I like attention,” but admits the real reason is “I think it’s important for people of all walks of life to have a voice and be seen.”
If there was one thing Richards would like to see improved in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s reception to that message. She says “you’d be surprised” at how many times her fellow members have misgendered her, something “a better understanding of trans and nonbinary people” would help improve.
“As frivolous as I may seem I’m a genuine soul with a heart of gold just trying to survive in this world,” Richards says, and it’s a happier one because she’s in it.
Interested in being featured in Visibili-T? Email Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Williams in Central Florida or Managing Editor Ryan Williams-Jent in Tampa Bay.