Trans woman’s human rights complaint dismissed after being denied male genital waxing

Oct 23 2019, 12:38 pm

A transgender woman accusing aestheticians of discrimination for refusing to wax her male genitalia had her complaint dismissed by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

The ruling from tribunal member Devyn Cousineau, states Jessica Yaniv “engaged in improper conduct” by filing complaints against the aestheticians based in the Metro Vancouver area.

The ruling involves seven cases in which Yaniv asked for waxing services and informed the female aestheticians that she was transgender. In five of these cases, Yaniv requested waxing of her scrotum and in two she requested waxing of her arms and legs.

The majority of the aestheticians offered their services on Facebook Marketplace. In one instance, Yaniv also sought services from Merle Norman — a business operating out of Metrotown Mall in Burnaby. Since the complaint was filed, the shop has closed down.

The ruling states most of the woman were “either providing the service out of their home, or in the client’s home. Most of them presented as racialized, with English not their first language.”

Cousineau notes these characteristics are significant because it supports her conclusion that “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.”

The ruling states Yaniv inquired about the services on Facebook Marketplace under the name “Jonathan” and used a picture where “she could be mistaken as a man.” She then proceeded to use another account under the name “Jessica” with a fake picture. In the case involving Merle Norman, Yaniv scheduled the appointment with the receptionist under the name “Jonathan” and told them she was transgender.

When the aestheticians learned Yaniv was requesting her “male parts” to be waxed, many of them felt nervous and uncomfortable because they did not know how to wax a scrotum and they found her behaviour to be “odd and disconcerting.”

Merle Norman informed Yaniv on the phone they do not wax transgender people.

In the leg and arm waxing cases, the aestheticians did not feel comfortable performing these services on Yaniv.

Cousineau concluded they fit the profile of “vulnerable women” that have “predominantly found themselves to be the targets of Ms.Yaniv’s complaints” and provided evidence that  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.”

Yaniv claimed that being denied waxing services as a transgender woman paralleled other circumstances where LGBTQ+ people were denied services — such as gay weddings.

Cousineau said she did “not find the circumstances analogous.”

“In contrast, in the case of genital waxing, I have found there is a material difference in waxing different types of genitals and that, because of its intimate nature, service providers must consent to provide service on a particular type of genitals,” she stated.

Cousineau went on to describe Yaniv’s testimony as “disingenuous and self-serving.”

“In cross-examination, she was evasive and argumentative, and contradicted herself,” said Cousineau.

The ruling highlighted that Yaniv has filed a slew of complaints against beauty salons.

“I am now satisfied that, in filing these complaints, Ms. Yaniv was primarily motivated to  resolve the complaints for a financial settlement,” said Cousineau.

The issue of racial animus was also discussed in the ruling.

The decision states “Ms. Yaniv has a grievance against certain ethnic and cultural groups in the lower mainland of BC which she perceives are failing to assimilate effectively into what she considers ‘Canadian’ culture. These complaints are one way in which she is attempting to make this point and punish members of these groups.”

Cousineau dismissed the seven complaints and ordered Yaniv to pay $2,000 to the three aestheticians who presented a defence to the complaints.