Protecting Cisnormative Private And Public Spheres: The Canadian Conservative Denunciation Of Transgender Rights

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The public sphere has been seen by conservatives as an arena for safeguarding private relations. Private power relations (in the family, religion, community and economy) could be threatened by newly recognized social groups that make claims on the state for justice and equality. Therefore, conservatives have been concerned about who can speak and exist in public and who can thereby make demands on the state. In the debates over transgender rights in Canada, social conservatives and neoliberal forces have merged in complex and impactful ways. Analyzing House of Commons and Senate debates and committee proceedings for Bill C-279 (2015) and Bill C-16 (2016–2017), I examine three conservative arguments that illustrate attempts to maintain private power relations and hierarchal gendered divisions by ensuring that transgender and gender nonconforming people are not allowed to exist, speak or make claims in public: first, the assertion that gender identity and gender expression are not definable identity categories for claims-making because transgender people are deceptive and can change their gender based on their feelings; second, the targeting of public facilities, and particularly public bathrooms, as sites of contention, danger and necessary gender segregation; and third, the attempt to delegitimize rights claims by criminalizing transgender people in relation to cisgender women and children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-517
Number of pages21
JournalStudies in Social Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Canadian politics
  • Conservative
  • Human rights
  • Public and private spheres
  • Transgender


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