Jessica Yaniv. Twitter
A ruling by a Canadian human rights tribunal last month against transgender woman Jessica Yaniv was welcome news to anyone who had begun to wonder just how far official protection of transgender expression would go. But there are aspects of the case that leave it far from clear that it has drawn a line in the sand of transgender rights.
The case of Jessica “Jonathan” Yaniv versus Vancouver aestheticians is by now well known. Yaniv, whose male genitals were intact, and presenting herself ambiguously, applied, mainly through Facebook Marketplace, to more than 10 women providing waxing services – in two cases through salons but otherwise home-based. Apart from a couple of requests for arm or leg waxing, Yaniv was asking for waxing of her scrotum.
When the women refused, Yaniv laid complaints against them with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for discrimination on the ground of gender expression, which is a protected category in BC law. Yaniv also sought compensation of as much as $15,000 from each of the women.
On October 22nd the tribunal delivered a decision against Yaniv, imposing compensation costs on her and roundly criticising her behaviour. The ruling stated that she “targeted small businesses, manufactured the conditions for a human rights complaint, and then leveraged that complaint to pursue a financial settlement from parties who were unsophisticated and unlikely to mount a proper defence.”
The decision admonished her for using human rights law as a “weapon”. It said that “human rights legislation does not require a service provider to wax a type of genitals they have not trained for and have not consented to wax.” Since none of the salons advertised waxing services for male genitals, they did not discriminate against Yaniv on the basis of her gender identity. The complaint regarding the refusal to wax Yaniv's arms and legs was also dismissed.
What told most against the litigant, it seems, was the fact that the majority of defendants in the case belonged to ethnic minorities, suggesting a racial motive for her complaints. Under a section of the decision about “improper motives” for the complaints, the tribunal devotes four pages to “Racial animus,” referring to sentiments (hate speech?) Yaniv expressed on Twitter, in her written complaints to the tribunal and, indeed, during the hearing itself.
Yaniv researched the ethnic identity of the women she approached for services and targeted Asian and South Asian providers. The decision says:
“In a majority of her cases, she also had the added motivation of punishing racialized and immigrant women whom she stereotypes as hostile to the interests of the LGBTQ+ community. Far from advancing the cause of LGBTQ+ people, Ms. Yaniv’s conduct would, if condoned, threaten this Tribunal’s integrity and it’s mission to foster an equitable, tolerant and respectful society.”
During the hearing Yaniv went so far as to compare immigrant community attitudes to neo-Nazism.
While the BCHRT decision is a setback for Yaniv, it does not offer any certainty that other unreasonable cases against Canadians concerning “discrimination” would not succeed. The fact that Yaniv’s absurd complaints were given a hearing (and even the BC tribunal protested at the number Yaniv was filing) is disconcerting. And would Canadians who were not racial minority women, but were every bit as targeted as Yaniv’s victims, get as fair a hearing?
Experience in cases in the United States and elsewhere involving same-sex marriage is not encouraging.
However, new factors are shaping the transgender playing field, and the movement is meeting resistance, even within LGBTQ+ ranks.
So-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) have been fighting the idea that men can declare themselves women and claim the right to use women’s toilets, compete against natal women in sports, and generally intrude on women’s privileges and spaces. Some gay men have joined the resistance, insisting that sex is different from gender and that, contra trans ideology, same-sex attraction is not the same thing as same-gender attraction.
Two transgender employees left The Guardian in August after months of in-fighting over an editorial siding with feminists who say that trans rights are in conflict with women’s rights and put women at risk. That a liberal-left mainstream paper is taking sides against trans women is quite significant.
A few days after the Yaniv decision last month, a number of influential British lesbians, gay men and bisexuals publicly broke ranks with Stonewall, Britain’s biggest LGBT rights organisation, over what they see as Stonewall’s prioritisation of “trans” rights. As the LGB Alliance, they hope to “counteract the confusion between sex and gender, which is now widespread in the public sector and elsewhere.”
(Good luck with that, LGB!)
The new alliance, which will be formally launched in January, says that young lesbians are under pressure from those who would claim that they are really men who have been “born into the wrong body.” On the contrary, say the LGB’s, bodily sex matters and lesbians are biological women attracted to other biological women; biological males who identify as women and are attracted to biological women are something else.
According to this writer, “Most high-profile trans advocates are trans women oriented towards women—in other words, heterosexual males who, as trans women, describe themselves as lesbians. An estimated 90 per cent never undergo gender-reassignment surgery.”
Jessica Yaniv appears to be among their number. She is attracted to women and takes a creepy interest in pre-pubescent girls. Exactly what is going on in the mind and emotions of such a person is hard to fathom. It has been described by Canadian expert Dr Ray Blanchard as autogynephilia, which is the subject of an article by Jane Robbins on this site today. She writes:
“The distinguishing characteristic is the patient’s erotic attachment not to another person, whether male or female, but rather to an interior idea—the idea of himself as a woman. Among many case studies from his practice, Blanchard describes patients who are sexually excited by female bodily functions such as menstruation.”
Blanchard found that almost all adult male gender dysphoria results from, or is accompanied by either autogynephilia or homosexuality. Either way, he concludes that “Transsexualism and milder forms of gender dysphoria are types of mental disorder, which may leave the individual with average or even above-average functioning in unrelated areas of life.”
They can’t help having a mental disorder. But neither can people like Yaniv be allowed to bully people into affirming their gender status, and civil authorities should not be rushing to give legal protection to what seems, and may turn out to be, a mental illness. Apart from any other consideration, the futures of many children are on the line.
Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet