Accusations fly at human rights hearing into transgender woman’s Brazilian wax complaint
A substantive question remained at the core of the raucous daylong hearing: should a business be allowed to deny service on the basis of gender identity?
A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing devolved into repeated outbursts and name-calling this week as it considered a transgender woman’s complaint that a home-based salon discriminated against her by denying her a Brazilian wax.
At one point, the complainant compared the business owner to a neo-Nazi. The lawyer for the business owner accused the complainant of engaging in “half-truths and fabrications.” Tribunal adjudicator Devyn Cousineau frequently had to interject to maintain decorum and to keep the hearing from careening off course.
But a substantive question remained at the core of the raucous daylong hearing: should a business be allowed to deny service on the basis of gender identity?
Jessica Yaniv, the complainant, told the hearing she was entitled to receive the advertised wax service and that if the tribunal ruled against her it could lead to a “dangerous” precedent.
“You cannot choose who your clientele is going to be,” she said.
However, business owner Marcia Da Silva said she was not comfortable carrying out a Brazilian wax on a person with male genitalia, nor did she have the training for it. Jay Cameron, Da Silva’s lawyer and litigation manager with the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told the hearing that a ruling against his client would be tantamount to ordering “intimate services” against someone’s will.
The complaint heard Wednesday is one of more than a dozen filed by Yaniv, who describes herself as a digital marketing expert and LGBTQ activist. All allege she was the subject of discrimination by salons. A few complaints have been settled without hearing or withdrawn.
Yaniv also made headlines recently for engaging in a social media spat with free-speech advocate Lindsay Shepherd, in which they both made disparaging remarks about each other. Twitter subsequently banned Shepherd from the platform, but not Yaniv.
The tribunal had initially issued a publication ban shielding Yaniv’s identity, but on Wednesday Cousineau decided to lift the ban based on Yaniv’s social media presence and public advocacy.
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