Canada is on the global map this week, and not for a good reason. Long known as a champion of human rights, our nation is now being celebrated as a champion of human idiocy. Canada is the place – so far the only place – where a human-rights tribunal is actually holding a hearing to determine whether a transgender woman’s rights have been violated because she couldn’t get her testicles waxed.
If you’re late to this bizarre tale, here’s a summary. The complainant, Jessica Yaniv, was born a man who now identifies as a woman. She asserts that because she identifies as a woman, she deserves the same right to service as any woman – even though her genitalia are in an unaltered state. In this case, the service she wants is a groin wax, also known as a Brazilian – which amounts to full hair removal in the genital area. Never mind that Ms. Yaniv’s genitals consist of a penis and testicles. So long as she identifies as a woman, she maintains, that should make no difference.
To pursue her groundbreaking case, Ms. Yaniv – who likes to dress up in tiaras and fairy princess gowns – has lodged human-rights complaints against more than a dozen small businesses after they declined to wax her private parts. Many of these services, as described in the human rights tribunal documents, are operated by immigrant women with limited English who want to make a few extra dollars to support their families. Some of them hold religious beliefs that prohibit contact with the genitalia of an unrelated male. As Sukhi Hehar Gill, a practising Sikh, explained in her response to the complaint, providing service to someone who is biologically male is “contrary to my faith.”
There’s also a practical reason why Ms. Yaniv might be turned away. Waxing a scrotum calls for a special technique, requiring skills that most salon workers don’t possess and probably have no interest in acquiring.
Imagine being a recent immigrant living in Surrey, trying to make ends meet. The next thing you know – wham! You’re slapped with a human-rights complaint you can’t understand from a quasi-judicial body you’ve never heard of. Welcome to Canada.
Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, is acting for Ms. Gill and several other respondents. “The impact on their lives has been profound,” he told me in an interview. “One woman went to 16 different lawyers before she found us. She said they wouldn’t take her case because they were afraid of the optics or afraid they’d be accused of transphobia.”
Until this month, the British Columbia human-rights tribunal had granted Ms. Yaniv a publication ban so that she could pursue her cause in blissful anonymity. The tribunal finally allowed her name to be published because her presence on social media is so ubiquitous that anonymity is not possible. Meanwhile, her targets have been publicly branded as bigots and transphobes.
Ms. Yaniv is hardly the ideal complainant. She has come under fire for online comments she has made about South Asians. The human-rights tribunal stated that it was “troubled” with some of her messages, which suggest she “holds stereotypical and negative views about immigrants to Canada.” It’s too bad the human-rights tribunal didn’t do a background check before it took her on, because she has probably set the cause of trans rights back by many years.
In the hierarchy of victimhood, transgender rights are suddenly at the very top. And the tribunal wants you to know that its decision was far from frivolous. In one recent ruling, the tribunal expressed its concern about the “rights” of transgender women to access “gender affirming” care such as waxing, which it describes as “critical." It stated that Ms. Yaniv has a “genuine grievance” about “pervasive discrimination against transgender women,” and this “is the reason that the Tribunal exists.”
Absurd as it seems, the case of the unwaxed testicles is simply the logical outcome of current gender ideology, which holds that you are who you say you are and physiology is irrelevant. It is the reason why trans women have been sent to women’s prisons. It’s why teenagers who identify as girls are allowed in some places to compete against biological girls (with predictable results). It is also the reason why the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter – Canada’s oldest women’s shelter – was stripped of city funding because it refuses to accept transgender women. It argues that women who’ve been traumatized by men do not welcome the presence of trans women. Trans activists say the centre is guilty of “supporting transphobia."
It’s one thing to agree – as most of us do – that in our free and open society, people should have the right to to self-identify in whatever way they wish. But it’s another thing entirely to compel others to validate that self-identity. Human-rights tribunals don’t seem to care about this distinction. And as long as they embrace causes that seem ludicrous to the general public, the farther they will fall into disrepute. If they knew what’s good for them, they’d stop harassing salon workers before it’s too late.