A Canadian transgender individual is being forced to pay damages after losing a case before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
Jessica Yaniv had claimed discrimination because multiple female salon workers refused to body wax his groin. Although he presents as female, Yaniv still has male genitals, according to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
The case began in March 2018 when Yaniv contacted multiple home-based businesses seeking a “Brazilian” to remove pubic hair from the groin area. When salon workers refused, citing “lack of personal comfort, safety concerns, a lack of training, and/or religious objections,” Yaniv alleged discrimination and filed 15 complaints with the tribunal, seeking up to $15,000 in damages from each of the employees at the five businesses involved.
The Justice Centre represented three defendants in the case and announced that the tribunal was ruling against Yaniv.
“Self-identification does not erase physiological reality,” Jay Cameron, the group’s litigation manager said. “Our clients do not offer the service requested. No woman should be compelled to touch male genitals against her will, irrespective of how the owner of the genitals identifies.”
The decision from tribunal member Devyn Cousineau noted that many of Yaniv’s complaints were against people who speak Engish as a second language. All offered services either in their homes or the home of a client.
“These characteristics are significant because they support my conclusion that Ms. Yaniv has engaged in a pattern of filing human rights complaints which target small businesses for personal financial gain and/or to punish certain ethnic groups which she perceives as hostile to the rights of LGBTQ+ people,” Cousineau wrote.
She said Yaniv’s allegations were often unreliable.
“I found aspects of Ms. Yaniv’s testimony to be disingenuous and self‐serving. In cross‐examination, she was evasive and argumentative, and contradicted herself.”
Cousineau argued that just because the individuals involve provide a service that involved female genitals does not mean they should be forced to work on male genitals.
“I accept that this is an intimate service that a person must actively and specifically consent to provide. It requires the service provider to handle a stranger’s genitals for a prolonged period of time, in a private setting. I do not accept that a person’s decision to touch a stranger’s vulva then requires them to also touch a stranger’s penis and scrotum,” she wrote.
“Human rights legislation does not require a service provider to wax a type of genitals they are not trained for and have not consented to wax.”
Cousineau’s ruling dismissed analogies to American cases in which LBGT individuals have sued claiming discrimination.
“In her arguments, Ms. Yaniv attempted to draw parallels with other circumstances where LGBTQ+ persons have been denied services – for example, in connection with gay weddings. I do not find the circumstances analogous. There is no material difference in a cake which is baked for a straight wedding, and one that is baked for a gay wedding. Nor does baking a cake for a gay wedding require you to have intimate contact with the client.”
Cousineau said Yaniv’s motives were suspect.
“I find that Ms. Yaniv’s predominant motive in filing her waxing complaints is not to prevent or remedy alleged discrimination, but to target small businesses for personal financial gain. In many of these complaints, she is also motivated to punish racialized and immigrant women based on her perception that certain ethnic groups, namely South Asian and Asian communities, are ‘taking over’ and advancing an agenda hostile to the interests of LGBTQ+ people.
“Far from advancing the cause of LGBTQ+ people, Ms. Yaniv’s conduct would, if condoned, threaten this Tribunal’s integrity and its mission to foster an equitable, tolerant, and respectful society.”
Cousineau dismissed the cases and ordered Yaniv to pay $2,000 to each of the three salons represented by the Justice Centre.
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