A screencap from a Langley Township council meeting this spring of Jessica Yaniv speaking as a delegation.

Controversial Langley transgender activist arrested over stun gun

A highly publicized Human Rights Tribunal complaint has drawn notority to the local activist

A transgender activist who has been embroiled in controversy for weeks is facing investigation by the Langley RCMP over an electric stun gun.

Jessica Yaniv confirmed to the Langley Advance Times that she was arrested.

“They were actually really nice,” Yaniv said.

The police went to a North Langley home on Monday, Aug. 5 “responding to information indicating there was a prohibited weapon,” said Cpl. Holly Largy, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

One resident was taken into custody and a search warrant was obtained.

Police seized two conductive energy weapons, often known as stun guns or referred to by the brand name Taser.

One canister of pepper spray and one of bear spray were also seized.

“The investigation is ongoing,” said Largy, and charges have not been laid. It is up to the B.C. Prosecution Service to decide whether or not to lay criminal charges.

Yaniv claimed that police were aware of the weapons.

“I’ve had the police here, talking about harassment,” Yaniv said. “I tell them, I have these here. They had no issue with it.”

She also said she has already been told to appear in Surrey Provincial Court on Dec. 5 on charges of possession of a prohibited weapon.

The police seem to have become aware of the weapons thanks to Yaniv’s online activities. She apparently showed one of the energy weapons during a heated online debate with another trans woman in the United States.

A few months ago, Yaniv was largely only known to regular viewers of Langley Township council meetings as a frequent delegate on a variety of topics.

Since then, a BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint she launched has gone public and has pushed her into the public eye.

In July, news outlets – from mainstream publications to a number of far-right websites – picked up the story of her multiple complaints to the BC Human Rights Tribunal over 13 Lower Mainland spas and salons.

Yaniv, a trans woman, alleged discrimination because the spas allegedly refused to offer her waxing services due to her biological sex. Although she has said she was denied arm and leg waxing, among other services, most coverage has focused on the issue of whether the businesses should have to perform intimate waxing services for someone with male genitalia.

Since the cases went public, Yaniv has become embroiled in Twitter feuds with conservative figures, appeared on the radio show of American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and been the subject of dozens of news articles and opinion pieces.

The cases took multiple twists and turns before the panel even held its hearing in July.

Yaniv’s identity was initially protected by a publication ban, following numerous hateful comments at various online sources. One comment Yaniv submitted to the tribunal said she was “A perfect candidate for being lined up against a wall and shot.”

But the tribunal stripped Yaniv of her anonymity in mid-July, after finding she had used her own Twitter account to speak out publicly about the upcoming hearings.

“Taken together, what these tweets demonstrate is that Ms. Yaniv has chosen to engage very publicly about the issues underlying her waxing complaints and, most importantly, about the complaints themselves,” read a tribunal ruling. “There is no purpose served by the tribunal protecting Ms. Yaniv’s identity when she does not feel the need to do so herself.”

Although the tribunal’s rulings have allowed the case to go forward, Yaniv has come in for some criticism herself in the way she dealt with the mostly Indo-Canadian businesses at the centre of the case.

In a May 30 ruling the tribunal’s Devyn Cousineau noted that Yaniv wrote in a submission that “the majority of people in Surrey unfortunately are unproficient in English and do not possess customers service skills.” She also referenced gang violence.

“Such comments, in my view, draw on racial and cultural stereotypes that have no place in this tribunal’s process,” Cousineau wrote.

Laser Cut, one of the businesses involved in an early complaint, alleged that Yaniv was “motivated in part by racism and in part by the expectation of financial gain.”

Cousineau ruled that there was a substantial rights issue before the tribunal.

“Waxing can be critical gender‐affirming care for transgender women. At the same time, it is a very intimate service that is sometimes performed by women who are themselves vulnerable,” Cousineau wrote.

No final decision has been made on the bulk of Yaniv’s tribunal cases.

Before her Human Rights Tribunal cases went viral, Yaniv’s primary local political activity was speaking to Township council.

Her appearances in council chambers covered a grab-bag of issues, including eliminating single-use plastics, ensuring that feminine hygiene products are available in school washrooms, and to request a donation for her campaign for the Miss BC pageant title.

In her June 24th appearance before council, Yaniv arrived in a wheelchair and said that she had a brain tumour.

She was scheduled to appear at the last council meeting of the summer on July 22, but did not appear. She was to speak about an “all-bodies swim” at Township public pools, an issue that recently caused some controversy when a similar swim scheduled for a Langley City pool was postponed and faced online criticism.

A significant number of her appearances at council have covered gender issues, including a delegation asking for an end to gender segregation in physical education classes in the Township.

However, that delegation, and others, covered issues that are under the authority of other governments, such as the Langley School District or the province.

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