Garrit Hickman, an air cadet with 222 Shuswap Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, is contesting a policy in the Air Cadet program which he believes is gender exclusive. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

A 13-year old boy is contesting a policy in the Air Cadet program which he believes is gender exclusive.

Gerrit Hickman, an air cadet with 222 Shuswap Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, had his blonde shoulder-length hair cut off on Friday, July 19. His head is now shaved down to gender-dependant standards set by the cadet program.

Since the fall of 2018, Hickman was able to keep his hair long due to an exemption granted by Major Bissell, the Officer In Charge for the Interior.

Read more: Perseid meteors return for August show

Read more: Hundreds of cadets converge in Okanagan

Even though Hickman had an exemption from the male hair standard, he still met standards set for female cadets. He accomplished this by braiding his hair and pulling it into a tight bun each time he dressed in uniform.

However, this exemption only applied on a local level so in May, when Hickman was accepted to a summer training course at Albert Head Cadet Training Centre in Victoria B.C., he was again told he must cut his hair.

Haircut regulation for cadets states that male cadet hair should be taper-trimmed at the back, sides and above the ears. The regulations also state that male hair must not fall below the top of the eyebrows.

At this point Dani Hickman, Gerrit’s mother, emailed a letter to the Minister of Defence Lt. Col. Harjit Sajjan, in order to change the regulation.

In the letter Dani Hickman cited the Canadian Human Rights Act, saying that on the basis of gender identity her son should be able to keep abiding by the female hair standard.

“Gerrit feels strongly that if female and transgender cadets are allowed to have long hair, he should be able to as well,” Hickman wrote.

Read more: Sicamous rallies to replace man’s prized stolen motorbike

Read more: Funeral held for Canadian soldier killed in Bulgarian skydiving exercise

Nearly a month later, Dani and her son received a response from Isabelle Daoust, the Defence Corporate Secretary, on the Minister’s behalf.

In the reply, Daoust cited the cadet dress standards and encouraged Gerrit to “reconsider his position.” Also saying the policies and regulations must be consistently applied across the more than 54,000 participating Canadian youth.

It was this response that led to the fateful trip to the Abstract Salon in Salmon Arm, to the dismay of Gerrit Hickman.

“It’s part of my identity,” Hickman said. “Many people aren’t going to recognize me.”

Hickman was inspired to pursue this issue because he has many classmates who are within the LGBTQ spectrum.

“I think the policy should be long hair/short hair instead of male and female,” Hickman said.

Read more: Summerland graduates receive awards and bursaries

Read more: 98-year-old French spy to recount Second World War story in Okanagan

The Department of National Defence has provided the defining principles which characterize the cadet program.

“There will be no artificial barriers developed which preclude participation based on gender, race, culture, religion, education, socioeconomic status or ability, and all reasonable efforts to accommodate will be made,” the first principle states.

“This is where I think the haircut policy based on long hair/short hair, rather than male/female, would come into effect,” Dani Hickman said.

Gerrit leaves for camp the morning of Sunday, July 21.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Garrit Hickman (right) was able to wear his hair long due to an exemption and by conforming to female dress standards. (Photo Submitted)

Before and after Garrit Hickman’s haircut at Abstract Salon in Salmon Arm on Friday, July 19. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters protest police action in Victoria

Protesters say at least 14 were arrested by police overnight

Protesters block entrance to government building in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Unist’ot’en requesting Environmental Assessment Office withhold CGL construction permits

The camp says CGL never mentioned healing centre in report to Environmental Assessment Office

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Most Read