Florence Ashley, BCL/JD, LLM (Bioeth) is a transfeminine jurist and bioethicist based in Toronto, where they are a doctoral student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Joint Centre for Bioethics. Their doctoral project examines how science is deployed and used within the legal system to simultaneously bolster and undermine trans youth’s autonomy. Their research is supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship. Prior to their doctoral studies, they served as clerk to Justice Sheilah Martin of the Supreme Court of Canada (2019-2020), being the first openly transfeminine person to clerk at the highest court. Prior to clerking, they completed degrees in civil law and common law followed by a master's in law and bioethics at McGill University. Their master's thesis, written under the supervision of Dean Robert Leckey, bears on the legality of conversion practices targeting gender identity.
Florence was awarded the 2018-2019 Canadian Bar Association's SOGIC Hero Award for their academic work, advocacy, and leadership in trans communities, becoming the youngest recipient of the award. They were a recipient of the Forces AVENIR Graduate Personality Finalist Award and were awarded a Scarlet Key by McGill University in 2019. Florence is a member of the Comité trans of the Conseil québécois LGBT and previously served as chair of the advisory board and co-director of the Montreal Trans Legal Clinic. In 2018-2019 they were a member of a Committee on sexual orientation and gender vocabulary of the Office québécois de la langue française.
Their article “Don’t Be So Hateful: The Insufficiency of Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crime Laws in Improving Trans Wellbeing”, published in the University of Toronto Law Journal, inspired the first special issue on trans law in Canadian history. Their article “Gatekeeping Hormone Replacement Therapy for Transgender Patients is Dehumanising” was selected as Editor’s Choice by the Journal of Medical Ethics and featured in a National Post article. Florence’s work on trans conversion therapy has been cited by the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Florence has also testified as an expert before the Québec National Assembly Committee on Citizen Relations in regards to the province’s proposed ban on conversion therapy. Florence’s article “Accounting for Research Fatigue in Research Ethics” was profiled in WIRED.
Florence’s academic work is deeply transdisciplinary and has been published in the University of Toronto Law Journal, Service social, Archive of Sexual Behavior, The American Journal of Bioethics, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Medical Ethics, Dalhousie Law Journal, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Journal of LGBT Youth, Perspectives on Psychological Science, McGill Journal of Law and Health, The Sociological Review, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Manitoba Law Journal, Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Études francophones, American Journal of Medicine, Bioethics, Green Bag, and NYU Review of Law & Social Change.
They frequently contribute to media conversations, having been interviewed by various media outlets, with publications in The Globe and Mail, CBC Opinions, Montreal Gazette, Huffington Post, The Conversation, NOW Magazine, The Advocate, IRPP Policy Options, Le Devoir, La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal, and Journal Métro.
Florence uses they/them pronouns in English. In French, they use ille with feminine grammatical gender. Florence can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, or at f.ashley at mail.utoronto.ca.