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)

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)

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)

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

Just Posted

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

TEASER
WATCH: Surrey-made anti-bullying video urges youth to #BlockEmDontShareEm

“Break the chain by deleting the image and never forwarding – not even to a best friend’

Surrey RCMP on scene of a crash involving a motorized scooter and a car in the intersection of 102 Avenue and City Parkway on Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
Elderly man sent to hospital after scooter crashes with car in Surrey

Surrey RCMP say it happened at about 8:30 a.m. in the intersection of 102 Avenue and City Parkway

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read