This story has been circulating for a while and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to make of it when I first saw someone talking about it a few weeks ago. A Canadian transwoman named Jessica Yaniv has filed more than a dozen human rights complaints saying she is being discriminated against by beauticians who refuse to provide her waxing services because of her male genitalia. The National Post reported on the genesis of this story nearly one year ago:
One day in March, a transgender woman messaged an aesthetician in Surrey, B.C. after seeing a personal Facebook ad for waxing services.
“Hi there, where are you located?” the woman asked.
“Clayton Heights,” responded Shelah Poyer, who also worked at a local salon, the Mint Tanning Lounge.
“Awesome! Do you do Brazilians?” the woman wrote back, referring to a bikini wax or the removal of pubic hair around the groin.
“Not for men sorry,” Poyer answered…
Reached by phone on Wednesday, the woman, who describes herself as a digital entrepreneur, said the complaint is one of 15 she’s filed against salons from Vancouver to Abbotsford. Over March and April, she said, she contacted 18 salons and only three agreed to take her on as a client.
Shelah Poyer’s attorney points out that waxing for men (a “manzillian” or “bro-zillian”) is different than waxing for women and requires separate training and supplies which Poyer didn’t have.
Since this began, Yaniv has filed and then retracted three cases with the human rights tribunal, two of them after learning that the defendants had secured a lawyer (more on that in the video below). But last month, Yaniv’s cases were finally heard by the tribunal and it went about as well as you might expect:
At Wednesday’s hearing, Yaniv, who is representing herself, said she came upon a Facebook ad in spring 2018 offering a promotion for a Brazilian wax, which involves the removal of pubic hair around the groin.
Da Silva testified she had just started her home-based business after previously performing waxes on family and friends. Yaniv was the first person to respond to her ad, she said…
They agreed over text message to an afternoon appointment. But Yaniv testified that after identifying herself as transgender and sending Da Silva a selfie, Da Silva cancelled the session…
Yaniv said the advertisement Da Silva posted was open to the public and didn’t come with any conditions. She said that Da Silva should have accepted that Yaniv identifies as female rather than make assumptions about her based on appearance.
“Your gender identity is your own,” Yaniv testified. “We live in a different day and age now.”
At one point, Yaniv equated the denial of service to neo-Nazism.
We’ve probably now reached a new low in the history of Nazi accusations, i.e. a woman’s refusal to wax someone’s balls is now considered tantamount to fascism. In any case, some of the public and even the tribunal itself seems to be growing a bit tired of Yaniv’s behavior:
As the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has heard Yaniv’s complaints in recent weeks, public outrage has been roused over the possibility that anti-discrimination laws require women to wax male genitalia — especially vulnerable, racialized women working precarious service jobs, often out of their own homes with children around.
The tribunal member hearing the cases has scolded Yaniv, saying her behaviour in pursuing case after case, even after the Tribunal cautioned against wasteful “unnecessary duplication,” has not been “conducive to having the issue resolved on its merits,” and “opens a valid question about her motives in filing so many complaints.”
The situation took another strange turn this week when Yaniv was arrested after brandishing a Taser during a YouTube debate with an American transwoman. Tasers are apparently not legal to own in Canada and moments after the YouTube debate ended the police showed up and arrested Yaniv:
“About three minutes after (the broadcast ended), I have RCMP showing up at my door and putting me into cuffs saying I have a prohibited weapon,” she said in an interview…
After a search, two conducted energy weapons, bear mace and pepper spray were seized…
Conducted energy weapons, also known as stun guns or by the brand name Taser, as well as pepper spray are considered prohibited weapons in the hands of the public.
After she was released, Yaniv called the police to claim that someone had sent her a child exploitation photo. The police apparently took a report on that.
John Carpay, an attorney who represented some of the women accused of violating Yaniv’s rights, gave an interview to Benjamin Boyce last week. The discussion lasts about 45 minutes but goes beyond the specifics of Yaniv’s case(s) to includes a discussion of the conflicting views of human rights that seem to be at the base of this case. Carpay describes the traditional view as the belief that human rights allow for maximum individual self-expression (including being a trans person) with minimal interference from the government. That’s a viewpoint guarantees freedom but not equal outcomes. The more modern view is that the government is expected to guarantee rights as entitlements and step in to ensure everyone gets what they deserve, even if they have to compel strangers to wax a trans-woman’s male private parts to achieve justice.