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Jessica Yaniv waxing case

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Yaniv v. Various Waxing Salons is a case currently pending before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. In the spring of 2018, Jessica Yaniv filed 13 complaints against various waxing salons alleging that she was refused Brazilian waxes because of her gender identity.[1] The Tribunal heard arguments for six of the complaints from June 2018 through April 2019, during which time all six were withdrawn by Yaniv, and costs awarded to one of the salons, according to a decision issued on May 30, 2019.[1] The Tribunal heard arguments for the seven remaining cases in late July 2019 and expects to render a decision within the following three months.[2]

The crux of the case has been described as whether businesses should be allowed to refuse services on the basis of gender identity[3][4]

Tribunal case[edit]

Complaint[edit]

Yaniv said that she contacted several salons through Facebook to request appointments for waxing services, including Brazilian waxes, which involve removing the hair around a person's groin. Yaniv stated that the businesses refused services to her after it became clear that she was transgender.[5][3]

Yaniv sought financial remedies of CA$25,000 from at least one corporate salon and CA$7,500 from independent estheticians.[2] She also asked the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to declare that refusing waxing services is discriminatory.[5]

Response[edit]

In response to the complaints, several of the estheticians said that they lacked the training required to wax male genitals, or that they were not comfortable doing so for religious or personal reasons.[5] One of the women shut down her salon business after her encounter with Yaniv.[3]

John Carpay, founder of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which has represented several estheticians before the tribunal, stated that the women Yaniv has filed complaints against are mostly poor immigrants for whom English is a second language.[3][6]

Hearing and process[edit]

Yaniv's identity was initially subject to a publication ban, but the ban was subsequently lifted on July 18, 2019 because she "used her own Twitter account to tweet about these complaints and other very similar circumstances."[7][8]

The public hearing attracted attention, with about 30 individuals attending the proceedings to gather outside. Some were in support of Yaniv, while others demonstrated in support of the estheticians. The hearing drew so many attendees that some had to stand in the hall.[2]

Yaniv argued that the estheticians could not refuse service to a transgender woman, regardless of the estheticians' individual beliefs.[3] The estheticians asserted that they were not comfortable with performing waxing services on what they considered male genitalia, and that there were religious and cultural reasons to support their decision.[3]

During the hearing, Yaniv reportedly compared one of the Brazilian-waxers to a neo-Nazi.[3] In a May 2019 decision on procedural matters, the tribunal member adjudicating the hearing said that she was "troubled that some of [Jessica Yaniv]'s comments, made within this process and online, suggest that she holds stereotypical and negative views about immigrants to Canada."[5] When asked for comment by Pink News, Yaniv said they had published "racist remarks" but stated that "[t]he immigrants are targeting trans people. We are the victims, not them."[9]

The tribunal said it would have a decision on the case within three months as of July 2019.[5]

Commentary[edit]

Morgane Oger, the vice-president of the British Columbia NDP and a trans woman, remarked that the case raised questions of "whether we allow businesses to refuse service to anyone because of sexual, racial, gender or religious identities" adding that, while it was reasonable to expect businesses to avoid discrimination, "nobody is guaranteed to have every special need met by every provider at every location"[10]

Susanna Quail, a B.C. based human rights lawyer, told The Globe and Mail that the case was "salacious" and had "garnered attention because it’s about genitals", but argued that it was unlikely to set an important precedent because of the unique facts of the complaint.[2]

International attention[edit]

Yaniv's case has received international attention, including a segment on Tucker Carlson's Fox News channel show.[2] It was also cited as a factor in the decision of the minority Liberal-National Coalition's decision to oppose a proposed gender self-identification law in Victoria, Australia that has yet to be debated.[11]

In Scotland, Fiona Robertson, the National Women's and Equalities Convener for the ruling Scottish National Party was criticized for tweets directed toward Yaniv.[12]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Reasons For Decision: Application to Limit Publication and Application For Costs" (PDF). JY v. Various Waxing Salons, 2019 BCHRT 106. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. 30 May 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Little, Simon (July 29, 2019). "B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to take up to 3 months to decide transgender waxing case". Global News. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Quan, Douglas (18 July 2019). "Accusations fly at human rights hearing into transgender woman's Brazilian wax complaint". National Post. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  4. "When one person's right is another's obligation". The Economist. October 27, 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Uguene-Csenge, Eva (July 26, 2019). "Transgender woman testifies at human rights tribunal after being refused Brazilian wax". The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  6. Greenfield, Beth (July 24, 2019). "Trans woman who was refused waxing services kicks off identity wars online". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  7. "Reasons For Decision: Application to Lift Publication Ban" (PDF). Yaniv v. Various Waxing Salons, 2019 BCHRT 147. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. 18 July 2019.
  8. Tom Zytaruk (19 July 2019). "Publication ban lifted on transgender complainant's name in Surrey waxing dispute". Surrey Now Leader. Retrieved 3 August 2019. Tribunal member Devyn Cousineau, who originally ordered the ban identifying Yanin only as JY, reversed it on July 18 after three of the respondents argued successfully to have it lifted.
  9. Lily Wakefield (July 31, 2019). "Trans woman denied 'gender-affirming' services files human rights complaints". PinkNews.
  10. Oger, Morgane (July 31, 2019). "Jessica Yaniv's fight for trans rights misses the very point of that fight: equality". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  11. Urban, Rebecca (August 8, 2019). "Feminists reject transgender law change". The Australian. Retrieved 7 August 2019. (registration required)
  12. Stephen Naysmith (29 July 2019). "Report says trans lobbying groups 'captured' public policy, putting women and girls at risk". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 3 August 2019.


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