A mother and business owner was forced to end her Brazilian waxing business after being taken to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to wax a transgender woman’s male genitalia.
Maria Da Silva, who is an immigrant from Brazil operated the business out of her home where her small children also live. Da Silva claims she refused to perform the procedure on the claimant, Jessica Yaniv, due to safety concerns raised by her husband and alleged harassment on Yaniv’s part and not because of the claimant’s identity.
Yaniv, who was formerly known as Jonathan Yaniv, has taken fifteen other B.C. women to the tribunal for refusing to wax her male genitalia citing discrimination based on gender identity and is seeking financial compensation. Many of the woman are of East Asian ethnicity and have English as their second language.
During Wednesday’s tribunal proceedings Da Silva claims that the incident directly led to her shutting down her business and losing it as a source of income for her family.
“Some of my clients have been very significantly affected on a personal level. [Another client also] closed her business, she has been depressed, anxious, sleepless and that has gone on for a period of many many months,” said her representative and Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer, Jay Cameron.
“It is a very serious thing to launch a human rights complaint against a person. My clients are people. They have a right to make a living and this has interfered with their livelihood, but also you have the stigma of being associated with this hanging over you.”
Cameron told the tribunal judge that many of Yaniv’s claims specifically target women from ethnic and religious minorities and that the procedure to perform a wax on male genitals is different than those performed on a vulva.
According to Yaniv, estheticians should be obliged to provide a service like waxing to a female-identifying trans person and religious and cultural views should not interfere with the ability to access a service.
“The people that discriminated against me are forcing their beliefs on society,” said Yaniv, who is representing himself, while cross-examining his own mother who he called as a witness to the tribunal.
During Wednesday’s hearing a publication ban on the case was also lifted. The presiding tribunal member cited public interest and the claimant’s own online activity about the case as the reason to remove it.
“I don’t think that somebody making complaints to the scale that the complainant is making should be able to hide behind a publication ban and then publicly discuss the cases online,” said Cameron.
“My perspective is that the tribunal came to the right decision and I think that’s part of the open court process.”