JY is a transwoman with male genitalia, who in early 2018 filed more than a dozen human rights complaints against female estheticians who declined to provide JY with a “Brazilian” bikini wax.
In a May 30, 2019 ruling in JY v. Various Waxing Salons, the BC Human Rights Tribunal expressed its concern about the “rights” of transgender women to access “gender-affirming” care such as waxing, which the Tribunal says is “critical,” even if this is “a very intimate service that is sometimes performed by women who are themselves vulnerable.” The Tribunal states that JY has a “genuine grievance” about “pervasive discrimination against transgender women,” and this “is the reason that the Tribunal exists.”
Under the Tribunal-enforced cloak of anonymity, JY’s pattern—thus far—is to demand money from hard-working estheticians in the context of settlement negotiations, but withdraw the human rights complaint when the esthetician puts up a fight by retaining counsel.
This is what happened in September of 2018, when JY learned that the Justice Centre was representing Shelah Poyer, a single mom with a young daughter, who works out of her own home to provide waxing services to women. Aside from not wanting to deal with male genitalia in her home, Ms. Poyer also lacks the requisite skills and training needed to wax a scrotum.
When it became clear to JY that Ms. Poyer would proceed to a hearing, at which an expert witness would testify that waxing male genitalia is a different procedure that requires different wax and specialized training, JY immediately withdrew the complaint.
Most of the estheticians have not filed formal responses to JY’s complaints, even as their cases head towards hearings in July and August. Lack of funds is likely the primary reason, but another big factor is that very few lawyers are willing to risk the wrath of the powerful transgender lobby and its rainbow flag allies. One esthetician was turned down by 26 different lawyers and firms before learning of the Justice Centre’s availability to help.
A woman’s option of paying several thousand dollars to JY in settlement is quicker, simpler, less stressful and much cheaper than paying a lawyer (if you can find one) to see the complaint through to a formal hearing.
Incomprehensibly, the Tribunal has deliberately refused to inform the dozen estheticians, some of them immigrant women who speak little English, that they can obtain free legal representation from the Justice Centre. One can only speculate as to how many women have therefore been pressured to pay money to JY, who has demanded as much as $5,000 from one esthetician.
Based on JY having drawn on “racial and cultural stereotypes” about East Indians, the Tribunal has ordered JY to pay $150 to one of the estheticians, after withdrawing the complaint against her. This $150 is likely a small fraction of what this esthetician will have to pay to her lawyer for representing her in this stressful human rights ordeal.
By way of further comparison, $150 is less than one third of one percent of the $55,000 which the same Tribunal recently ordered one man to pay to a transgender NDP candidate who felt deeply offended by flyers distributed during the 2017 BC provincial election.
The Justice Centre has been retained by two more estheticians whose Tribunal hearings are scheduled for July. If JY does not (again) withdraw the complaints upon learning that these women are now represented by counsel, the Tribunal will hear expert evidence about how and why waxing a scrotum is very different from giving a Brazilian bikini wax to women.
More importantly, the Tribunal will be presented with arguments about how the Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person ought to protect vulnerable women from being coerced, by human rights legislation, to perform an intimate procedure on male genitalia.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which is representing female estheticians before the BC Human Rights Tribunal who are facing complaints for having declined to provide waxing services to JY.