Jessica Yaniv speaks at a Langley Township council meeting in the spring of 2019. (Screengrab)

Estheticians can’t be forced to wax male genitals, B.C. tribunal rules

Langley transgender woman Jessica Yaniv was ordered to pay three salon owners $2,000 each

Warning: This article may offend some readers

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a transgender woman’s complaints in a case about genital waxing that drew worldwide media attention.

Jessica Yaniv alleged that various Lower Mainland salons discriminated against her when they refused to provide her with waxing services, on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Yaniv had requested arm or leg waxing in two cases. In five others, she requested scrotum waxing, which the salon employees refused.

The tribunal did not agree that gender expression means intimate grooming services must be provided.

“In the genital waxing cases, I find that scrotum waxing was not a service customarily provided by the respondents,” wrote tribunal member Devyn Cousineau in the decision. “As such, they did not deny Ms. Yaniv a service and did not discriminate against her.”

The decision went on to say there is no difference between arm and leg waxing for men and women. But instead of reprimanding the salons for that, Cousineau said Yaniv filed the complaints for “improper purposes” – namely, the to target small businesses for financial gain.

Yaniv had targeted female salon employees, mostly minorities, often speaking English as a second language, who worked alone out of their homes or their clients’ homes, the decision said.

“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.”

Only three of the people targeted by the complaints presented a defence. She was ordered to pay each of them $2,000 for her improper conduct.

Overall, the tribunal found that her testimony was “disingenuous and self-serving.”

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

READ MORE: Controversial Langley transgender activist arrested over stun gun

Among other issues, Yaniv, who has previously identified as a trans woman, at one point during the hearing claimed to be intersex, which means someone who is born with genitalia that may be indeterminate or have elements of both male and female genitalia. At other times, she referred to having “male parts.”

She used fake names to approach some of the women, or used the name “Jonathan” and a photo on social media that showed her with short hair and no makeup.

One of the women testified she didn’t refuse her because she was transgender, but because she was frustrated with multiple texts from Yaniv and didn’t feel comfortable keeping the appointment.

The salon owner cancelled the appointment, but Yaniv found the woman’s Facebook page and got it shut down by claiming the page didn’t use the woman’s real name. Yaniv also made repeated attempts to contact her at work, and via text and Facebook. The woman became afraid and contacted the police. She eventually shut down her business entirely.

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