Presentation Abstracts and Presenter Bios

The Constitutive In/Visibility of the Trans Legal Subject by Florence Ashley

How law talks about people defines the realm of possibilities for legal subjects. When statutes and cases speak of gender, they delineate the boundaries within which trans people evolve. Both talking about and not talking about trans people constrain the lived possibilities of transitude. Trans subjectivity is formed in the narrow interstice between individual identity and the legal vocabulary of gender. The body of law that regulates Quebec society at large does not recognise the possibility of trans people. Its notion of gender is rooted in biological essentialism, reducing womanhood to pregnancy and motherhood. At the same time, a handful of provisions account for the existence of trans people. Those provisions have evolved over time, and a shift from a medical conception of trans existence to an identity-based conception of trans existence has occurred. Although this shift can be seen as progress, it does not succeed at making trans people normal subjects of law. Even under this new conception, trans existence is set against a background of legal invisibility, revealing the negative relationship to law that defines trans subjecthood. This negative relationship evidences itself through the many barriers trans people uniquely face in the legal administration of gender. Drawing on this descriptive analysis of trans legal subjecthood, a path towards fully-fledged subjecthood can be sketched.

Florence Ashley is a LL.M. candidate at the McGill Faculty of Law where they are currently O’Brien Fellow in Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, as well as Fellow of the McGill Research Group on Health & Law. Their research spans a wide variety of legal topics as they relate to trans people, and their thesis explores the bioethical and legal landscape of prescribing hormone replacement therapy to trans patients.


Postgendered GLOCAL realities: Global Trans Latino Women in Canada by Gerardo Betancourt, Nicola Gailits, and Caro Castro

Trans Latino Women (TLW) in Canada are embedded in multiple neo-colonial discourses, due to their racialized immigrant status and non-cisgender identity (Hispanic binary: female/male identity). TLW are inscribed in new and diverse forms of sexual migration, where unlocated sexual desires, nonconforming gendered bodies, and social class (low levels of education and working skills) work in tandem, creating new entities that are in continuous search for materiality and citizenship space. For many TLW, migration to Canada is an act of survival that comes with high costs. TLW are impacted by poor social and economic integration and invisibility across several community spaces. They face exclusion and blurred lines of visibility in three dimensions: as Spanish-speaking immigrants, as members of LGBTQ communities, and in the imaginary “Canadian nation” into which they aim to integrate. TLW are embedded within inescapable paradigms: they are often forced to migrate due their identity as trans women, and struggle with pre-established gender and sexualities standards while establishing themselves Canada. The GLOCAL program is a six-month intervention (n=9) developed by the Centre for Spanish Speaking People in partnership with the School of Public Health, University of Toronto. The main goal of the intervention is to promote the integration of TLW to Canadian society. The GLOCAL workshop topics were suggested by participants and professionals and are organized around three main domains: self-care, belonging and economic integration (e.g. citizenship information and human rights; access to trans-friendly healthcare providers). An evaluation of this intervention has been ongoing since July 2017, using quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews and arts-based methods.

Gerardo Betancourt has developed a Hand Mapping Qualitative Methodology for depicting narratives of sexual health trajectories and life events. The methodology has been presented in Barcelona, Switzerland and across Canada. Affiliations: Factor-Inwentash, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto; HIV Prevention program, Centre for the Spanish-Speaking Peoples
http://web.fhnw.ch/plattformen/sexualityandsocialworkconferences/conference-program/presentations/workshop2/presentation_gerardo_betancourt_SSW16.pdf

Nicola Gailits is a PhD student in the Faculty of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Her expertise is related to health and immigrants. She has been part of TLO’s team for the past year. Affiliation: Dalla Lana, Faculty of Public Health, University of Toronto

Caro Castro is a Trans masculine Latinx, with years of experience working with homeless queer youth, victims of domestic violence, LGBTQ2S newcomers experiencing barriers in Canada. Caro is a Ryerson Master of Social Work Candidate, currently working on a Qualitative Research Project on barriers to Trans Latinx Refugees in Canada, which will be finalized in July 2018 and submitted for publishing soon after. Caro conducts one-on-one counselling in English and Spanish at Family Service Toronto and has facilitated workshops in English and Spanish for seniors, Trans and LGBTQ2S groups. Caro has been a Ryerson University guest speaker, presenting on Queer Immigration, Queer theory and has recently participated as a speaker at the White Privilege Conference in Toronto.


I’m on the Wrong Track Baby, I Was Made This Way: How Gender Essentialism and Cisnormativity Discipline the Transition Processes of Transgender Individuals by Kai River Blevins

Transgender individuals are heavily regulated through American law, particularly through the administrative state, which presents challenges in terms of housing, identity documents, prisons, and immigration, among others. There are many determinative factors which create this trans-antagonistic administrative framework, and I investigate two key norms – gender essentialism and cisnormativity. These norms are (re)produced and naturalized through the mutually enforcing epistemological frameworks of law and medicine through their competing projects of bringing transgender individuals under their authority in such a way as to hierarchize transgender communities and identities. This paper explores how these conceptual frameworks undergird the administrative state’s theorization of gender, the ways in which the law is guided in the regulation of transgender individuals, the epistemological framework of the medical model employed by the law in realizing those norms, and how the administration of these regulations disciplines the transition processes of transgender individuals. My analysis contributes to the work of Dean Spade, Ian Haney López, and other critical legal scholars by explicating the nature and function of the law in the lives of transgender individuals with respect to gender essentialism and cisnormativity. Through interrogating these norms as a framework upon which the administrative state is constructed, I advance the concept of the self-determination model and make recommendations to increase the personal and collective autonomy of transgender individuals with respect to their transition processes.

Kai River Blevins (xe/they) is a disabled genderqueer/femme community organizer and poet living in Salem, Oregon, USA. Xe currently works as a legal and policy research associate focusing on transgender legal issues for a national non-profit, as well as an educator through training direct service providers on structural challenges to transgender access (primarily in the context of shelters and medical facilities) and trans-affirming client interaction practices. Kai has been involved in trans/queer activism since 2011 after coming out in the military, and has reoriented their work into an abolitionist framework focused on trans/queer liberation.


“I’m Supposed to Relate to This?”: A Trans Woman on Issues of Identification with Trans Moving Images* by Valérie Robin Clayman

This presentation challenges common assumptions of trans moving images by applying theories of identification to an autoethnographic close reading of three specific texts –Hedwig and The Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001), Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013), Transparent (Jill Soloway, 2014), and The Assignment (Walter Hill, 2016) - considered by both mainstream and queer audiences to feature transgender characters and experiences. This presentation, while limited to the author’s experience as a trans woman, attempts to advance the argument that identification with trans moving images may change with one’s transition and require a reassessing of “what is trans” along with resituating the trans spectator from “object of the gaze” to “bearer of the look” (Mulvey, 1975). * I use the term “moving images” because it allows for the incorporation of television, web series, and online streaming services under the cinematic images umbrella.

Valérie Robin Clayman has a Master’s Degree from the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa (Canada). She also holds a Certificate in Women’s Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Concordia University in Montréal (Canada). Her research attempts to unpack the relationship between her trans experience and the trans experience of others coming out during this time of interactive technology as well as before the Internet explosion. Valérie is an associate member of the Æsthetics and Politics of the Image research group based at the University of Ottawa, where she is currently working on her PhD.


Trans Refugee, Barriers & Incarceration by Kusha Dadui

In the dominant story of Canadian nationalism, the country is a safe haven for refugees (Galabuzi 2006). In recent years, this has taken the shape of a homonationalism that includes Trans refugees, particularly those from the global south. However, the history of Canadian immigration, of which the refugee system is a part, is rooted in racism and colonialism (Walia 2013). The queer and trans safe haven claim ignores the tremendous barriers that Trans refugees face in accessing life chances. In fact, in my experience working with this community, queer and trans narratives of life in Canada, far from confirming it as a “safe haven,” are filled with exclusion and discrimination. This narrative also ignores the aftermaths of a colonialism that introduced homophobic and transphobic laws into many global south contexts in the first place. The attempt to make borders more permissible for the right kind of “deserving” immigrants and refugees, as a lot of social movements have attempted to, has in fact served to further fortify them. A better starting point might be to question how white Europeans derived the right and legitimacy to control the territory now often referred to as Canada in the first place, and what forms of violence gendered, sexual, racial and colonial, continue to be inflicted in the wake of this conquest. In my experience, far from “rescuing” Trans and queer immigrants, Canadian government and society systematically inflicts violence on their bodies. For instance, many queer and Trans refugees face racism in spaces that are LGBTQ positive. Particularly, the ones who do not fit the typical profile of what a queer person looks like to white Canadians are excluded from LGBTQ communities (Haritaworn 2015).

Kusha Dadui - I am a Masters of Environmental Studies student at York and have been working at Sherbourne Health Centre as the Trans Program Coordinator for the past 6 years. My research is focused on Trans Refugees and how the barriers that they face leads to incarceration. I came to Canada 24 years ago as a refugee from Iran and have been involved in the Trans community for the past 15 years. My personal experience informs a lot of my work and research.


Gender Binary Washrooms as a Means of Gender Policing in Schools: A Canadian Perspective by Adam W. J. Davies and Evan Vipond

This paper analyzes the institutional barriers transgender and gender non-conforming students experience in Canadian educational systems through the enforcement of gender binary washrooms. Through the application of Foucauldian, Butlerian, and transgender frameworks, this paper aims to posit the benefits of the provision of gender-neutral washrooms systems in educational institutions while subverting the gendered norms of school systems by delving into the systems of oppression that transgender students experience while at school. Discourses around knowledge and power production (Foucault, 1980), gendered regulation and performativity (Butler, 1990), and the resulting cisgenderism that is perpetuated will be engaged in to trouble the school system and educational policy as a means of furthering binary gender regulation within schools. Further discussions regarding how policy can enact forms of transnormativity (Vipond, 2015) will be discussed, as well as the enactment of schooling and policy to discursively reify forms of liberal ideal citizenship through trans bodies. Throughout this paper, we suggest various pedagogical and structural techniques to ameliorate the gendered regulation of transgender students and interrupt heteronormativity and cisgender privilege in Canadian schools while acknowledging how the normalization of trans bodies (Spade, 2011) through liberal policies and schooling is invested in processes of citizenship production (Monro & Warren, 2004) and the reification of individualistic, neoliberal, and colonial conceptions of identity formation and gendered normalcy.

Adam W. J. Davies is a doctoral student in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development and Sexual Diversity Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Adam holds a Master of Arts in Child Study and Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, as well as an Honours Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.

Evan Vipond is a Ph.D. Candidate in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University, where they currently hold a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship. Evan obtained a Master’s in Women and Gender Studies in collaboration with Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto. Evan’s research interests include critical trans politics, trans rights and the law, feminist theory, critical race theory, queer theory, and cultural studies. Evan identifies as queer, nonbinary, trans, and disabled.


Transforming aging: Expanding “traditional” understanding aging and old age by Ash (Ashley) K. Flanagan

What do you see when you think about the later years of your life? For many transgender older adults, the discrimination they have faced throughout their lives does not end at the age of 65 (Cronin & King, 2010). Rather experiences of heterosexism and cisgenderism—which may now also be compounded with ageism and age-related issues—persist and influence visions of old age that often hold images of isolation, invisibility, harassment, and depression (Butler, 2004). Stemming from fears of rejection, discrimination, and harassment, many transgender older adults have become adept in negotiating and mediating their interactions as they navigate relationships with family, friends, healthcare providers, and the population at large (Butler, 2004; Finlon, 2002). Despite growing numbers of transgender older adults—estimates of 1 to 3 million globally within the next decade—many still lack community support and validation leaving them at greater risk for social and mental health disparities (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008; Witten, 2003). As the voices of LGBTQ+ individuals gain attention and inclusion in cultural and political spheres, transgender older adults and their experiences continue to be silenced and excluded from discussions within gerontology and queer circles (Kia, 2015; Serano, 2013; Siverskog, 2014). Therefore, this presentation aims to disrupt homogenized views of aging by highlighting the aging experiences of three transwomen through the use of screenplay as creative analytic practice. Together, as we explore Rita, Dar, and Donna’s stories of aging, we catch a glimpse of the legacies these women are weaving as they navigate old age.

Ash (Ashley) K. Flanagan is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Aging, Health, and Wellbeing Interdisciplinary Program of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. Ash’s dissertation engages innovative improvisational inquiry that melds components of queer and trans theories, community belonging, aging, and arts-based research in order to challenge many of the taken-for-granted understandings of sex, gender, and health regarded as the Truths of aging. In addition to these academic projects, Ash enjoys carpentry, outdoor adventures, and spending time with friends and family.


Terrorists, Aggressors, & Outsiders: A Critical Analysis of Media Responses to the 2016 BLM-TO Sit-In by Ali Greey

When Black Lives Matter-Toronto (BLM-TO), the group designated to lead the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade, staged a sit-in drawing attention to anti-Black racism within Pride Toronto and the Toronto police force, a media maelstrom ensued. While BLM-TO only disrupted the Parade for thirty minutes, the main disruption the group imposed was to undermine the integrity of Pride Toronto and the Canadian state’s narrative of supposed inclusivity. The action garnered considerable Canadian and American media attention. My analysis reviews forty of these reports to illustrate how mainstream and queer media converged in implicitly and explicitly racialized discourses framing BLM-TO as an agent of terrorism, an aggressor, and an outsider to an imagined ‘queer community.’ My paper argues that by drawing attention to systemic anti-Blackness, BLM-TO challenges the homonationalist and multicultural narrative of Canadian queer inclusion, and as a result both forms of media rallied to attempt to evict BLM-TO from queer and Canadian consideration. Drawing on the work of Sunera Thobani, Himani Bannerji, and Sherene Razack my paper explores how Canadian multicultural discourse provided an ideological foundation and imperative for the medias’ vitriolic responses. Citing the contributions of, among others, queer theorists Martin Manalansan, Alicia Garza, and Roderick Ferguson I attempt to illustrate how the media’s reporting on BLM-TO’s sit-in is part of a larger process of appropriation from and erasure of Latinx, queer and transfolk of colour and to highlight how BLM-TO’s disruptive pedagogy resists the re-narration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 as a story of white queer resistance.

Ali Greey identifies as a queer, gender-transgressing, white jock, and aspiring scholar. At the moment, Ali uses (with some reticence) the pronouns she/her. A sociology of sport student in the first year of her Master’s at the University of Toronto, Ali is interested in exploring how dominant ideologies of white supremacy and cis-genderism are reflected and reproduced within the institutions and spaces of sport. Beyond academia Ali can be found fighting at and fighting for East Toronto’s “Newsgirls” Boxing Gym, the only women and trans-centered boxing gym in North America.


The White Gender Thief: Settler Colonialism and the Erasure of Two-Spirit Identity by Joel Guillemette

This paper offers an examination of the recognition of trans and non-binary identities within Canada’s Human Rights Act as well as the exclusion of two-spirit people from settler state futurities. With the recent passing of Bill C-16 in Canada, I consider how governmental clauses fail to acknowledge two-spirit representations within national rhetorics of inclusion and belonging. Drawing upon Daniel Coleman’s (2015) conceptualization of “diasporic space and Indigenous place,” my paper examines the multiple ways in which trans and non-binary people are always abstractly located within national landscapes. Coleman begins by suggesting that Indigenous land maintains a literal significance that “cannot be abstracted from people and place” (5), whereas diasporic space engenders a metaphorical experience of dislocation that, in turn, dislocates Indigenous people, causing an “abstraction of places into space” (8). Extending this premise, I contend that the inclusion of trans and non-binary identities within the settler state, particularly in queer diasporic spaces, continually threatens to dislocate, erase, and appropriate Two-Spirit identities through discourses of settler colonialism. Mobilizing the figure of the white gender thief—a figure that abstractly embodies histories of colonial theft and, more recently, serves to legitimize trans and non-binary identities within the settler state—I maintain the importance for white trans and non-binary people to collectively resist assimilation into settler citizenship, as well as offer ways to ‘unsettle’ the rhetorics of national inclusion.

Joel Guillemette is a second-year Ph.D. candidate in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. They are also currently fulfilling the requirements for a graduate diploma in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. Their academic interests include the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, and class. They are currently doing preliminary work on a doctoral dissertation focusing on trans and non-binary gender identities in the settler state and their impacts on two-spirit identity politics.


“For Humane and Scientific Reasons:” Disrupting the Cycles of Trans Humanism through Critical Readings of the Stories of Lili Elbe by Markus “Star” Harwood-Jones

Lili Elbe has a dire affliction, one which is potentially deadly if she cannot find “a man prepared to assist [her] for humane and scientific reasons.” (Hoyer, 1933, p. 107) Her condition? She desperately needs to change the sex of her body. The rise in popularity of Lili Elbe’s story, first published under the title Man Into Woman, runs alongside the emergence of movements within art, academia, and activism challenging cisnormativity and systemic transphobia. While these criticisms remain necessary, they often rely on arguments for transgender humanity without critically considering the genre of human to which they aspire. Those who are already privileged—along lines of race, nationality, ability, and the like— frequently pronounce a universalized trans experience, while exploiting the life, labour, and deaths of the many gender norm transgressive populations who remain dehumanized (Haritaworn, Kuntsman & Posocco, 2014; Krell 2015; Towle & Morgan, 2002). Often framed as the “first” documented case of changing sex (Meyer, 2015), later iterations of Elbe’s story – including the novel titled The Danish Girl (Ebershoff, 2000) and the film of the same title released in 2015 – remain focused on biocentric understandings of gender and sexuality, make claims to the “heroic” possibilities of modern-era european medicine and, above all, uphold the overrepresentation of Man (Wynter, 2004). Contemporary trans scholars need to resist these models by must push ourselves to think beyond the terms that even the socially progressive consider to be “possible,” instead envisioning the incredible potential for sexual and gender liberation beyond what we currently imagine (Muñoz, 2009). In my examination of the stories of Lili Elbe, I draw on authors such as Sylvia Wynter (2004), C. Riley Snorton (2017), and Alexander G. Weheliye (2014), among others, to examine the overrepresentation of Man in transnormative narratives, challenging trans studies revisit and reimagine the meanings of trans humanity.

Markus ‘Star’ Harwood-Jones is a white, queer, mad, trans, space-case and day-dreamer, living in Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territories. Star’s work focuses on the importance of justice, community, healing, and radical love, working as an author, illustrator, and film-maker. Their main artistic works include the all-trans documentary Mosaic, the Confessions of a Teenage Transsexual Whore zines, and the collection of short stories known as Everything & All At Once. Markus holds a BA in Sociology from Ryerson University, where he also was the co-founder of the RU Trans Collective. Markus/Star is presently working under the supervision of Scott Morgensen for an MA in Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Learn more at www.starkisscreations.com


Caught in Red Tape: A Queer New Institutionalist Analysis of the South African Bureaucracy as a Site of Resistance Regarding Equality Law and Gender Transition by Taryn Husband

The dominant discourse in international development theory in the twenty-first century has been characterized by the rise of new institutionalist literature arguing that effective institutions (such as rule of law) are essential for economic and social development. Expanding upon feminist critiques of the new institutionalist paradigm, queer new institutionalism seeks to provide a critical analysis of how institutions are experienced and accessed differently by LGBTI-identified and otherwise gender variant people, even when gender-conscious design is used. In this paper, I apply a queer new institutionalist analysis to the question of bureaucracy as a site of resistance, particularly in the context of transgender and otherwise gender-variant people in South Africa. I argue that bureaucratic barriers, and indeed resistance from within the bureaucracy, affect how (and even if) transgender, intersex and otherwise gender-variant people access the very institutions meant to afford them the equality enshrined in the 1996 Constitution which includes provisions against direct or indirect discrimination by the state on the grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. Transgender people are explicitly included in these protections through a 1998 South African Constitutional Court decision, and have been afforded under law the capacity to change their gender markers (with a medical requirement); however, their experience attempting to access these rights through bureaucratic channels impedes their access to functional equality in areas such as medical care, education, housing, justice and marriage.

Taryn Husband is a PhD Candidate in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa. His research takes a critical perspective on new institutionalist frameworks, focusing on the role of legal institutions in gender equality efforts and how they can be leveraged by social movements to include a broader definition of gender. He completed his M.A in Global Governance at the University of Waterloo, where his research focused on widowhood and social policy in post-conflict contexts. He is a physically disabled, autistic, white trans man.


Be/longing?: Trans theory un-housed and un-selved – Undoing the self, gender, and the national through the trans body by Tai Jacob

Asking what is compelling about metaphors of gender transition as a home-coming and a journey, this paper engages geopolitical homes and travel in order to demonstrate how such metaphors are exclusionary to trans people for whom home and travel are contested sites. What borders and boundaries are implied when travel and homecoming are used to discuss gender transition? How are these borders and boundaries related to those implied by geopolitical travel and homes? And how might complicating these borders and boundaries of transition work to complicate geopolitical borders and boundaries? Theorizing between gender and nation, borders and homes, this paper questions what trans theory might look like if it was un-housed and un-selved. This paper argues for an un-housing and un-selving of trans theory that would critique capitalist, colonialist, and heteronormative modes of being. It begins with a critique of trans theorizing around homecoming and borders and finishes by questioning what a trans theory might look like if it was un-housed and un-selved, if it engaged with Georges Bataille’s notions of death and undoing rather than life and subject formation.

Tai Jacob is a Master’s student in Human Geography at McGill University, studying trans diasporic imaginings of home and nation. They are an editor at their school newspaper, The McGill Daily, and they host and produce the podcast Gender Blender. In their free time, they like to make zines, write poetry, and collage. They grew up in Toronto, Ontario with two immigrant parents and identify as a mixed Arab Jew.


Queer Stick Missus: Embodiment, Health, and Trans Histories at the Atlantic Edge by Daze Jefferies

While the experiences, struggles and testimonies of some trans women in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) have recently been documented through broadcast media, creative writing and performance, there have been no qualitative studies undertaken to specifically and critically explore trans women’s lives in Canada’s most easterly province. My graduate research, therefore, is a call to action for increased scholarship about trans women, our lives and health, as well as for the development of a unique method of documentation. Using auto/ethnography, oral history, and ethnopoetics, I emphasize an arts-based approach to the study of trans women's health, and argue that creative analyses reveal salient details about our lives that are overlooked by quantitative methods used in clinical, epidemiological and psychological studies. Threaded together by theories of trans embodiment, place and emotional geographies, this paper draws from a diverse set of local, trans women’s knowledges to explore how our health is bound up in temporal and socio-spatial relations, as well as the ways that our subjectivities in NL are formed, managed and performed through narrative and history.

Daze Jefferies is an artist-researcher and Master of Gender Studies Candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland whose graduate research explores intersections of oral history and health among trans women (and) sex workers. Currently, her academic and artistic practices interrogate three main terrains of trans women's lives in NL: emotional geographies, imagined pasts, and hybrid futures; issues of mobility, solidarity, auto/biography, and memory; and vernacular perceptions of the body and health. She has forthcoming publications in Transgender Sex Work and Society, ed. Larry Nuttbrock, and the ‘Reimaging Breasts’ special issue of Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies.


What Trans and Nonbinary People Want Trauma Therapists to Know by Leah Keating and Robert T. Muller

Trans people are at higher risk of exposure to trauma. Currently, there is a dearth of trans- and nonbinary- informed psychological services. Few studies have examined the mental health needs of trans and nonbinary people who have experienced trauma, or the intersection between trauma and psychological practice with this community. This study seeks to address this gap by answering the following questions: (1) What are the specific barriers preventing trans people from attending trauma therapy? (2) What therapist behaviours do trans people experience as helpful and affirming of their identities when accessing trauma therapy? Participants are trans and nonbinary adults living in Ontario who have experienced trauma, and who participated in a larger study on LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of trauma therapy. Participants completed questionnaires on posttraumatic and other psychological symptoms, experiences of discrimination and internalized transphobia, and accessing and attending trauma therapy. Those who have accessed trauma therapy will be compared with those who have not on psychological symptoms, on previous experiences of gender-based discrimination, and on internalized transphobia. The prevalence of specific barriers that participants have experienced to attending trauma therapy, and of therapist behaviours that participants report to be affirming, will be reported. Results will suggest ways to improve mental health care for trans people who have experienced trauma.

Leah Keating, Ph.D., C.Psych. (Supervised Practice) is a queer-identified postdoctoral fellow who earned her Ph.D. at York University. She completed her clinical internship at London Clinical Psychology Residency Consortium. Currently, she is completing her research through the York Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. She is currently studying LGBTQ+ people’s experience of accessing and attending psychotherapy for psychological trauma. Her research has focused on LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences of trauma, on women’s recovery from abuse, and on the development and treatment of disordered eating. Her research has received funding at the national, provincial, and institutional levels. She practices as a clinical psychologist in supervised practice in Toronto and Burlington, working with adults and couples.


Transcendent Bodies: Decision Making Autonomy for Trans BIPOC Youth in Toronto by Gitanjali Lena

I propose to present my research with and about trans bipoc youth in Toronto, supported by photographic essays about their experiences of decision making autonomy in health care by the trans bipoc youth who created them in April-June 2017. My research explored the sociolegal relationship between consent to treatment law in Ontario (Health Care Consent Act 1996) and phenomenological narratives of non-normative trans youth. While Ontario’s consent to treatment framework appears to grant autonomy to youth who are capable of making treatment decisions, I will discuss how trans bipoc youth still face prohibitive barriers to accessing information, treatment and health services in public and private settings. Photovoice exercises were used to understand the ways trans youth narrate their identities to health care providers (doctors, social workers, nurses) in primary care and mental health settings in the context of ongoing psychopathologizing of transness and disability. Interviews with health care providers illustrate how transphobia, racism and reluctance to accept youth autonomy linger. I examine the types of relationships and legal frameworks that might be possible to allow for supported decision making autonomy that does not require reliance on medical diagnosis, access to parental employment health benefits, categorizing oneself as one of a binary gender type, and that does not extinguish the possibility of evolving gender identity.

Gitanjali Lena is a queer diasporic Sri Lankan Tamil/Sinhalese person. She is a researcher, legal worker, community worker. She works at Springtide Resources ad a Migration Specialist and at the Mosaic Institute as a facilitator for the Next Generation Youth Conference in Scarborough. Gitanjali was the Executive Director of LGBT Youth Line for three years, and the Gender Identity Researcher at the Women’s Legal Action and Education Fund. Affiliation: Osgoode Hall Faculty of Law. Supervisor: Roxanne Mykitiuk.


Triple Victimization and Procedural Treatment for Gender-nonconforming and Trans* Women of Colour in Canada by Jessica Malandrino

Driven by my background in Criminology, and Women and Gender Studies, I feel compelled to discuss the ways in which violence against women extends beyond ideas of double victimization. My own experiences of sexism, force, and oppression by cisgender men has driven me to speak about violence against women. This is inspired by bell hooks, as she states, “making [theory] is the challenge before us. For in its production lies the hope of our liberation, in its production lies the possibility of naming all our pain—of making all our hurt go away” (12). In these ways, I am motivated to speak to a context where women have no voice of their sexist oppression. My own experiences drive me to research and examine the ways in which gender-nonconforming and trans* women of colour experience triple victimization—that is, the foci on violence and excessive force from police, administrative structures of violence from medical and legal processes, and the trauma gender-nonconforming and/or trans* women face in cisgender male prisons by both the male inmates and prison guards. These processes I argue are essential to research as all three areas of triple victimization that gender-nonconforming and trans* women face is silenced in literature in Canada. This proposal will draw on a queer of colour critique method, that Roderick A. Ferguson proposes we must begin “with the nascent and emergent formation known as queer of colour analysis” (2), which “approaches culture as one site that compels identifications with and antagonisms to the normative ideals promoted by state and capital” (3). Seemingly, then, this project in a similar fashion will turn to a queer of colour critique to work through and attempt to bridge the current literature on black feminism, policing, and trans* narratives to together. I argue that by blending these experiences together privileges criminalized trans* women of colour, by using their voices and experiences as I intend to further engage in close readings of gender-nonconforming and trans* women’s everyday feelings, lessons, and sensations in everyday life. I believe that using trans* narratives as an art and therefore, creating radical hope through such narratives creates new imaginative approaches to ultimately, inform new policy implications in Canadian policing, medical, criminal justice system, prison structures.

Jessica Malandrino is a Master's student in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.


Towards a Cross-Cultural Analysis of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Perso-Islamic and Euro-American Discourse by Mel Mikhail and Zarah Khan

Through an examination of the practice and consequences of 'filtering' in Iran, my paper argues that the trajectory of the emergence of trans identities in Iran is quite similar to what we have seen in the ‘West.’ At the end of Axiom 1 of the introduction to her text Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick recommends against asking about what certain sexual categorizations essentially mean, and instead suggests that we inquire about “how certain categorizations work, what enactments they are performing and what relations they are creating.” My paper grounds its study in Afsaneh Najmabadi’s article, “Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran,” in order to offer a provisional response to these questions. Namely, I read Najmabadi against both Sedgwick and Gayle Rubin's “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” to show how the case of Iran exemplifies Rubin’s claim that sex and sexuality is instrumentalized to order and regulate societies more readily than gender. The categorization of trans identities in Iran thus works to minoritize a “sexual rabble” to actively universalize heterosexuality and maintain patriarchal nation-state ideologies.

Mel Mikhail is an MA student at McMaster University, in the Gender Studies and Feminist Research program. Mel’s research interests include Marxist feminisms, trans diaspora, and current debates in queer, feminist, and trans theory.

Zarah Khan is a master’s student in the Gender Studies and Feminist Research program at McMaster University. Zarah's research interests include third world feminisms, memory studies, and current debates in Palestinian land repatriation.


“Women and 2spirits”: On the Marginalization of Transgender Indigenous People in Activist Rhetoric by Kai Pyle

In recent years, it has become common for those working on issues of gender-based violence in Indigenous communities to speak of Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people in the same breath, to the extent that “women and 2spirits” has come to be a stock phrase in such circles. This paper troubles this phrase and the logic behind it. I argue that much of the rhetoric surrounding Two-Spirit people in activist communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, marginalizes transgender Indigenous people and masks critical power differences among Indigenous people who face gender-based violence. Even within the category of “Two-Spirit,” tensions exist regarding the relative visibility of cisgender people and men over women and trans people. The phenomenon that has been described by Two-Spirit scholars Craig Ross and Dana Wesley as a “nonprofitization” of Two-Spirit communities further exacerbates these tensions, often forcing Indigenous trans people to either conform to certain narrow ideas of “Two-Spiritness” or be excluded. Drawing on the work of Two-Spirit writers—especially Indigenous transgender writers like Gwen Benaway, Qwo-Li Driskill, and Saylesh Wesley—as well as my personal experience as an Indigenous trans person in activist environments, this paper aims to be a step towards more clearly distinguishing trans Indigenous experiences amidst the broader phenomenon of gender-based violence towards Indigenous people. Such a move is essential for activists working on these issues to begin to truly address the realities of transgender Indigenous people’s lives—and to stop speaking our names in lip service only.

Kai Pyle is a Métis/Anishinaabe writer currently pursuing a PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Their research focuses on Anishinaabe Two-Spirit language, history, and literature.


(Trans)Gender Fluidity by Emerson Parker Pehl

In theoretical terms, trans people are regarded as being “fluid” or “transgressive” for transitioning away from their sex/gender assigned at birth. This static identity category of transgender, though, renders fluid possibilities invisible on bodies that are already statically understood as achieving transgenderhood. It is perceived that when a trans person reaches the trans end of the spectrum that their ability to continue to transition or be fluid ceases. If there is any period of time at all that a trans person identifies with the gender and/or gender expression expected from the biological sex assigned at their birth they are no longer considered as a transgressive trans person and are instead believed to have regressed and eventually detransition back to cisgenderism. The inability to experience gender fluidity as a transgender person is due to the binaries of transgender/ cisgender and man/ woman that transgender people frequently find themselves caught in due to the essentialistic ‘wrong body’ transnormative narrative. The reliance on the “wrong body” narrative to gain access to medical methods of gender affirmation creates reinforcing binaries, transgender/ cisgender and man/ woman. These binary systems forbid trans people to experience gender fluidity since any gender fluid experiences are most often considered to be “detransitioning” or experiencing sex change regret. How can trans narratives be reimagined that are not dependent on static, essentialist identities? How can this reimagining allow for gender fluidity to be understood on trans bodies instead of reduced to notions of regret?

Emerson Parker Pehl (they/them/theirs) is currently a graduate student both at Simmons College (M.A. Gender/Cultural Studies) and Widener University (MSW/MEd – Sex Therapy). Their research interests include transgender studies, queer theory, human sexuality studies, critical race theory, and controversies in psychology. For their master’s thesis, Emerson is conducting a qualitative study to document, and hopefully publish, the experiences of trans people who have had chronic denial or delays to accessing desired medical methods of gender affirmation. Emerson graduated with a B.A. in psychology and gender studies from Mount Holyoke College in 2014.


Trans, Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome: A Discursive Analysis of Transgender Bloggers and Psychiatric Case Studies about Transgender People with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism by Shahar Shapira

A self-advocacy movement for autistic trans rights is recently being formed. This comes on the background of accumulation of academic publications that study the connection between autism spectrum disorder and Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and gender identity. Most of the literature on the gender identity of people with autism or AS is rooted in a deficiency model regarding both autism and non-conformist gender identity. This study aimed to critically examine the discursive position of mainstream clinicians-researchers in some of these publications and to explore how their position affects, and can be affected by, individuals with autism or AS. In this analysis, we analyzed 10 psychiatric case studies that reported on transgender and gender non-conformist individuals with autism and AS, and five texts written by individuals with AS and transgender identity and that were published in online blogs and forums. The critical discourse analysis revealed the specific ways in which the case studies authors' heteronormative-ableist position caused them to perceive co-occurring autism or AS and non-conformist gender identity as co-morbidities. Transgender individuals with AS reported difficulties in receiving social recognition of their gender identity. While these findings highlight the problematic attitudes of mainstream clinicians-researchers toward autism and non-conformist gender identity, they also illustrate that the self-advocacy of queer activists and the neurodiversity movement have made it possible for individuals with AS to explore more gender identities than was once socially accepted.

Shahar Shapira is a PhD student in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. She is interested in feminist and queer disability theories, science studies, critiques of the concept of ‘normal’, and critical discourse analysis.


Piecing Citizens: How Bill C-16 (Re)produces Discourses of Trans(homo)nationalism by Sofie Vlaad

On Thursday, June 15th, 2017, the federal government of Canada passed bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada to include the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression”. One of the more significant effects of bill C-16 has been a push to normalize gender neutral pronouns, such as 3rd person singular “they/them”. They/them pronouns are often used by individuals who relate to gender in a way that is “non-binary”; experiencing gender as existing outside of the male/female dyad. While non-binary, henceforth NB, can be conceptualized as an umbrella term, I will argue that the function of bill C-16 is to carve out a third gender space, wherein the state would recognize a static NB identity. Drawing on Jasbir Puar’s concept of “piecing”, “to pass as not passing”, I will illustrate the ways in which the state sanctioned NB identity is that which “pieces”. Such an identity ends up reinforcing state power by (re)producing discourses of citizenship and trans(homo)nationalism. Furthermore, NB identity conceived in this manner becomes only available to those settler bourgeoise—typically white, though not exclusively—individuals for whom citizenship is also already available. Such a project legitimizes settler bourgeois NB identities while concurrently occluding cultural identities which exist outside of the so-called gender binary, such as the various indigenous articulations of two-spirit identity.

Sofie Vlaad is a Philosophy turned Gender Studies student starting her master’s degree at Queen’s University in Fall 2018. Her research primarily focuses on trans identities and Canadian law, the ontological construction of sex, and the intersection of posthumanism and trans studies. She’s also been known to dabble in Deleuze and Guattari from time to time.

Transgender Chimeras and the Politics of Listening by Tobias B. D. Wiggins

This presentation explores the politics of transgender subjectivity in the psychoanalytic clinic through my perspective as a trans male analysand, working with a cisgender male analyst. Beginning with an evaluation of systemic omissions, silencing, and the restriction of transgender access to mental health care, I consider the clinical effect of internalized notions of trans pathology. Psychoanalyst Michel de M'Uzan's notion of the chimera will be used to reveal the value of clinical intermediacies. I navigate these intersections inspired by some of the most fundamental lessons garnered from queer and feminist movements: that what we envision to be most private and intimate is also infused with power, and that these socio-subjective phenomena cannot be understood in isolation.

Tobias B.D. Wiggins is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist, & Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario. His areas of research include psychoanalysis, queer theory, sex acts, mental health, and visual art. Wiggins’ dissertation explores the relationship between the psychoanalytic clinic and trans people, and specifically how theories of perversion can be used to understand this conflicted history. He has been the recipient of several awards and scholarships including the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. Wiggins co-directed the inaugural 2017 Summer Institute for Sexuality Studies at York University on the topic of “Perversion at the Crossroads of Critical Race Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Queer Theory.” He has also worked closely with trans communities and mental health through the Toronto Sherbourne Health Centre and Translifeline. His writing has been published in the Transgender Studies Quarterly (Duke University Press); and is forthcoming the anthology Sex, Sexuality and Trans Identities: Clinical Guidance for Psychotherapists and Counselors (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).


Transnormative Times? Exploring law reform, queer rights and trans activism in Canada by Elise Wohlbold

Trans people who have historically and continue to be targets of state violence are today increasingly accorded legal rights protections on the basis of their gender identity. With these changes come new dilemmas for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirit (LGBTQ2) activist community. While some LGBTQ2 activists support law as a tool to improve the material realities of trans people’s lives, critics suggest law reform—such as same-sex marriage, military inclusion and hate crime laws—reify rather than challenge neoliberal notions of equality (Spade 2011), thereby only benefiting LGBTQ2 people with cultural capital and exacerbating the already precarious conditions of those living on the margins (Cossman 2007; Lamble 2013). Drawing on both archival research and interviews with trans activists in Canada, I suggest that the neoliberal driven equality rights landscape—formed by feminist, and queer rights movements—extends beyond simply establishing a common past, collective identity and shared equality rights struggle for queer and trans activists. Instead, I suggest that Canada’s socio-legal landscape shapes formations of trans organizations to deploy their political resources on legal rights “victories”, which simultaneously stifles grassroots strategic intentions for social change and forces them to operate within narrow paradigms that privileges homogeneous voices that rarely directly serves the interests of the most disenfranchise members of the trans community.

Elise Wohlbold is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University. Her research project explores the historical trajectory of trans rights politics in Canada, and how trans activists are using and also rejecting law as a tool to advance claims for equality. Her professional path includes collaborating and providing gender expert advice on international and grassroots projects, working with Status of Women Canada, the Conference Board of Canada and the 2009 UNESCO World Conference on Education. She holds a MSc in Gender from the London School of Economics and Political Science.