A transgender woman is suing a salon in Windsor (Ontario) because a Muslim employee denied her service.
The anonymous complainant was seeking to have her legs waxed. (There’s some confusion on this issue. The manager says the conversation involved a Brazilian wax, which would involve more intimate touching.)
When she asked an employee, over the phone, if her gender identity would be an issue, the manager of Mad Wax, Jason Carruthers, called her back to say the Muslim employee (apparently the only available waxer that day) couldn’t touch her because her faith prohibited her from touching “male parts”:
The complainant is seeking $50,000 for what she calls “immense harm to my dignity.”
“All clients regardless of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation are welcome,” said Carruthers. “However, we also welcome staff members and respect their religious beliefs and feelings of safety and dignity in regards to the right not to perform waxing services on males or male genitals.”
The application to the [Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario] says Carruthers’ “refusal to provide me with leg-waxing services because I am a Transgender woman, and their disclosing my name, gender identity and personal information to various media outlets has left me feeling threatened, exposed, with my rights violated in terms of seeking services as a woman in the Windsor-Essex community.”
Carruthers also told reporters that it wasn’t just this employee. His business simply doesn’t have staffers who wax male body parts.
“I have no male wax staff,” Carruthers said Friday. “We are not able to provide that service.”
Carruthers said 98 per cent of the spa’s clientele is female and all of his staff are female. The spa has done waxing on the arms and backs of male clients in the past.
“When we’ve been asked about a male Brazilian wax in the past we tell them we’re not able to provide that service and they move on,” Carruthers said. ”It’s never been a issue.”
I’ll admit I’m not sure which way this should go. If this were a matter of serving cake to LGBTQ customers, it’d be much more clear cut; you serve everyone equally. But if the Muslim woman’s faith requires her not to touch the penis of someone she’s not married to, then refusing to service a trans woman seems much more complicated. It’s not discrimination against trans people, per se, but against specific body parts, applied equally to everyone who has them. (In other instances that have nothing to do with religion, waxers won’t service men at all because waxing that part of their body is much more difficult and requires a different set of skills.)
No decision has been reached yet, but who do you think is in the right here?
(Image via Shutterstock)