The Discrimination Tribunal

Jessica Yaniv’s claim of discrimination failed in the tribunal though the judge said that her complaint of gender-identity discrimination in a leg wax was justified (paragraph 102). The Judge Devyn Cousineau said she had made the claims in bad faith and for improper motives.

Jessica Yaniv was still using a profile on Facebook in the name Jonathan Yaniv, with a photo Cousineau thought appeared male. She said gender cannot be told from looks.

What if rights to single gender services should be? Where should we draw the line? Can you divine someone’s intention from how they present? I like to think people can be reasonable. We know what presenting male looks like.

We might distinguish use of services and ways of interacting. Gendered ways of interacting are oppressive. You don’t know if the person is non-binary or nonconforming. We might get to know the person rather than apply gender stereotypes. But we still need some single gender services.

The judge found Yaniv’s evidence disingenuous, self-serving, evasive, argumentative, and self-contradictory.

Ms Yaniv told beauticians that she had “male parts” but in tribunal was evasive. Asked “You’re saying you were asking her to wax a vulva?” she replied, “I’m not gonna say whether I have the whole thing. I’ll say it exists.”

I can understand her not wanting to answer questions about her genitals, but the tribunal decided the service of waxing a vulva was different from that of waxing a scrotum, and so there was no discrimination. So it was relevant.

On seeing Jessica as a man, Cousineau wrote, it was a common theme through these complaints that service providers initially perceived Ms. Yaniv to be a man based on her name and picture. Me. Yaniv strongly objected to this, arguing that there was no basis to assume her gender based on these details and that the very assumption was offensive. I disagree. While we may one day live in a society where a person’s gender is not assumed based on signifiers like name or appearance, we have not yet arrived at that point. For the most part, people still make assumptions about gender based on outward characteristics. While in some cases these assumptions are wrong- as they were in this case- they are mostly right. A service provider’s reliance on these assumptions is even more pronounced when they are communicating with potential clients via social media, with very little information.

They thought she was a man because she had a male name, short hair and no makeup. I think that is OK, but the problem arises if she intends to transition but is still part time presenting male. I would have explained the position. She is offering to pay for a service. Some people have two facebook profiles, one male one female.

I learned a little about the “Brozilian” or “Manzilian” wax, of penis and scrotum. I agree with Jessica that those terms are offensive to a trans woman, but they are ok for most people with scrotums, and possibly once she found a beautician who would treat her she could talk of a “genital wax”, but it is a different service from a Brazilian, a vulva wax.

The expert witness had run a business for many years and taught beauticians:

The penis almost always become erect, at least for some portion of the treatment. In her experience, it is not uncommon for the client to then request or expect sexual services and to become abusive when they are denied.

I found that completely shocking. I cannot imagine demanding a hand job from a spa worker.

Waxing does not kill hair follicles, only make them weaker. If your surgeon will use scrotal skin to line the neovagina, you should have laser treatment or electrolysis, having consulted the surgeon.

The skin of the scrotum is thin, and may tear in inexpert hands. She said a scrotum wax can take up to an hour.

The judge considered Yaniv had made the claims for improper motives, or in bad faith, so should lose. In part this is because of racial animus against the respondents. Yaniv considers certain ethnic and cultural groups don’t accept Canadian values, or trans women. The judge said that just as she should not have to endure being misgendered, so she should not judge the Indian-heritage legal representative on racialised stereotypes. Yaniv asserted immigrants were like Neo-Nazis, in that they were taking over her town.

Each of the five grounds for finding improper motives applies. The judge is clear that it is extremely difficult to demonstrate improper motives, and none of the grounds individually would necessarily be enough.

Jessica Yaniv had joined a women’s gym. She is not simply barred from women’s services.

This case has been used by transphobes to monster us, and oppose Equalities legislation supporting us. Yet the legislation has worked. Yaniv’s racist scheme failed.

Two women ceased to trade as aestheticians because of Yaniv’s legal threats; but many laws can be used to make unjust threats of legal action, not just gender discrimination law.

I am not responsible for Yaniv. What she does in another continent has no relevance to my rights.

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