TORONTO: The Justice Centre represents Canada Galaxy Pageants, a beauty pageant for women and girls based in Toronto, Ontario, against a new human rights complaint made by serial complainant Jessica Yaniv. The Justice Centre has filed a response to allegations that Yaniv (also known as Jonathan Yaniv and as Jessica Simpson) was discriminated against by not being accepted as a contestant in the beauty pageant’s “28 Years and Older” division.
Yaniv has male genitals and was born a biological male, but now self-identifies as female. In May 2019, Yaniv applied to be a contestant in the Pageant, and was tentatively accepted. Yaniv did not mention being transgender prior to applying. At the time, Canada Galaxy Pageants had a formal policy of accepting genetic females as contestants, but would still accept transgender females who had fully transitioned and no longer had male genitals. This policy was noted in all paperwork and on the website. The pageant’s policy has since been revised to include “genetic females and fully transitioned.”
All of the contestants, including girls as young as six, change their clothing and undress in common areas. No males, including contestants’ fathers, are allowed in that space, to protect the privacy and comfort of the contestants. Contestants from teens and up also compete in a swimwear category.
Once reminded of the pageant’s policy, Yaniv filed a human rights complaint against Canada Galaxy Pageants, alleging discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sex, in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Yaniv is seeking damages in the amount of $10,000 for “injury to dignity and feelings,” and requests that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rule that an organization cannot refuse a service to someone just because that person has male genitalia.
Yaniv is no stranger to lodging human rights complaints. In October 2019, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed Yaniv’s human rights complaints against several Vancouver-area estheticians for having been brought with an “improper purpose.” The Tribunal specifically found that “Yaniv’s predominant motive in filing her waxing complaints is not to prevent or remedy alleged discrimination, but to target small businesses for personal financial gain. In many of these complaints, she is also motivated to punish racialized and immigrant women based on her perception that certain ethnic groups, namely South Asian and Asian communities, are ‘taking over’ and advancing an agenda hostile to the interests of LGBTQ+ people.” Canada Galaxy Pageants is run by a woman of Asian descent.
A hearing date before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has not been set. The Justice Centre has also requested that this matter be dismissed without a full hearing on various grounds.
“Biological women and girls must continue to have the freedom to associate with other biological women and girls in activities that serve their unique interests and needs as females,” says Allison Kindle Pejovic, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre. “Further, this beauty pageant has already made reasonable accommodations for fully transitioned transgender females without male genitals,” she adds.
“It is imperative that biological women and girls, and fully transitioned transgender females, have safe, secure female-only places where they won’t have to worry about seeing male genitals, or having individuals with male genitals looking at them,” continues Ms. Pejovic.
“For reasons of safety and security, it is imperative that biological women and girls, and fully transitioned transgender females, have spaces where they can associate free from the presence of individuals with male genitals. This is particularly so in situations where women and girls are exposed or vulnerable.”