My work as a transfeminine jurist and bioethicist focuses on how we can use law and medicine to better the lives of trans communities and, hopefully, all marginalized communities. My research is rooted in the idea that the criminal justice system won’t save us, but gender self-determination might. I am an assistant professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and adjunct member of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. I hold a doctorate from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Joint Centre for Bioethics. Before being a doctoratrix, I received BCL/JD and LLM degrees from McGill University and proudly worked as the first openly transfeminine clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada, in the chambers of McGill University and University of Alberta alumnus Justice Sheilah Martin.
If my writing is what interests you, you will find a list of my publications with links and abstracts in the other tabs of this website. I wrote a book titled Banning Transgender Conversion Practices: A Legal and Policy Analysis for UBC Press, with a foreword by United Nations Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz. The book was reviewed in the Harvard Law Review and the Canadian Bar Association’s National Magazine. My work on conversion practices was cited in the UN Independent Expert report on the topic and I advised multiple governments about their respective bans on the ignominious practice. I’ve also written several academic and lay articles on the topic, more recently concentrating on emergent forms and re-brandings of conversion practices.
My academic articles cover a wide range of topics from law to philosophy to sociology to medicine. My dislike of disciplinary boundaries has allowed me to generate new insights on legal, political, and bioethical issues by borrowing conceptual tools and established knowledge from other fields. I have amassed over 30 refereed publications and goddess knows how many non-refereed ones in journals such as the University of Toronto Law Journal, the NYU Review of Law & Social Change, the Journal of Medical Ethics, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and the American Journal of Medicine. Some of my writing has been featured in news media and right-wing propaganda.
Surveying all my articles would take forever, so I’ll pick just three to highlight. My very first article “Don’t Be So Hateful: The Insufficiency of Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crime Laws in Improving Trans Wellbeing,” which was published in the prestigious University of Toronto Law Journal, inspired the first special issue on trans law in Canadian history—which I got to title Transfiguring Justice. Somehow, I think I am hilarious even though my sense of humour consists entirely of dad jokes; you can find a list of Easter eggs from my published articles here. I wrote an article, later cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, on how outright banning the voluntary intoxication defence in Canadian criminal law could have dire unintended consequences on women, mentally ill people, and communities of colour. And more recently I wrote an article I am very proud of on the phenomenology of gender identity, titled “What Is It like to Have a Gender Identity?,” that was published in the extremely prestigious philosophy journal MIND. The paper aims to better our understanding of how people form a gender identity.
Outside of writing papers, I am a member of editorial board of the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies, a fellow at the Centre for Applied Transgender Studies, and advise the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund on feminist litigation in Canada as part of their Law Program Committee. I have been formally and informally involved in many community organizations over the years and have received various awards for my scholarship and advocacy, most notably the Canadian Bar Association’s SOGIC (LGBTQ2+) Hero Award. As a public educator, I frequently contribute to public conversations around trans and feminist issues in newspapers, on the radio, and on television.
My pronouns in English are they/them. I grew up speaking québécois French; in that language I use the pronoun ille (/ɪj/ or /ij/) and feminine grammatical agreements. You can reach me via Twitter (@butnotthecity) or email (fashley at ualberta.ca). Messages should preferably include cute animal pictures.