Information for
2023 SMF Research Symposium

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The 10th Annual SMF Research Symposium proudly presents this year’s theme:


From Singular to Plural: Developments and Intersections in the Study of Sexualities, Relationships, and Families


 On April 12th, 2023, the Department of Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies is hosting its 10th SMF Research Symposium: a one-day conference highlighting student, faculty, and community research on topics of social justice and cultural intersections in the context of sexualities, relationships, and families. We invite you to join us!


To register, visit




SMF Research Symposium 2023

Wednesday April 12, 2023

8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


8:30 to 8:55


SJ2 Atrium

Coffee/Tea/Muffins/Yogurt Bar

SJ2 Atrium

9 to 10:30

Welcome and Keynote

Anna Balagtas

Reproductive justice isn't just about babies: An exploration of radical and political carework

60 min talk + 30 min Q&A

SJ2 Room 2002

10:30 to 10:45 Health Break


SJ2 Atrium

10:45 to 12:30

Workshop Pilot

Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoski,, Dr. Toni Serafini, Dr. Karen Blair, & Dr. Nancie Im-Bolter

We are family: Challenging the roots of 2SLGBTQQIA+ family rejection through an early parenting intervention on femmephobia

SJ2 Room 2002
12:30 to 1:30 Lunch

Served in the SJU Servery

Community Centre

1:30 to 2:30

SMF 230 Statistics Student Presentations

Led by Dr. Carl Rodrigue

SJ2 Room 2002

2:30 to 2:45 Health Break

Candy Bar

SJ2 Atrium

2:45 to 3:45

3 Topic Presentations

a) Into the maw: Violence as discource against masculine oppression (Ren Grafton & Dr. Andrew Deman)

b) Vegan ecofeminism, infertility treatments, and an interspecies reproductive justice (Dr. Katy Fulfur)

c) "You've got your mother in a whirl, not sure if you're a boy or a girl": An exploration of nonbinary emerging adults' identity formation and coming out process (Hal Ribeiro & Dr. Denise Whitehead)

20 min each; approximately 15 min presentation + 5 min Q&A

SJ2 Room 2002

3:45 to 4 Health Break

Beverages & Snacks

SJ2 Atrium

4 to 5:30

Community Keynote

Cory Silverberg

Sex is a funny word, and other things adults forget

SJ2 Room 1004: Vanstone Lecture Hall


Keynote Speaker: Anna Balagtas (9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)


Title: Reproductive justice isn’t just about babies: An exploration of radical and political carework 



When exploring the topic of Reproductive Justice, we tend to focus our conversations around the policies surrounding the reproductive experience. However, the bigger conversation of Reproductive Justice, arguably, are the intersections outside of having children.


As we engage with the four pillars of Reproductive Justice, we must speak on the radical and political intersections of this movement.


This presentation will explore these questions:

  • What does it mean to have the right to have children within a racist and fatphobic medical industrial complex?
  • What does it mean to have the right not to have children in a corrupt colonial cisgendered white heterosexual patriarchy?
  • What does it mean to have bodily autonomy where disabled folks are constantly left out of the conversation?
  • What does it mean to parent in a safe and supported community when we systemically underserve Indigenous, Black and People of the Global Majority in western societies?


We must approach Reproductive Justice as an intersection of decolonization work and liberation for all. The liberated work is decolonial work. Decolonial work is community building. Community building is family building. Reproductive Justice is at the center of this movement.



Workshop Pilot (10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)


We are family: Challenging the roots of 2SLGBTQQIA+ family rejection through an early parenting intervention on femmephobia - A workshop pilot



Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin

Dr. Toni Serafini

Dr. Karen Blair

Dr. Nancie Im-Bolter



In 2005, Ronnie Paris Jr. killed his three-year-old son for being “too soft.” In 2011, 15-year-old Raymond Buys was tortured and murdered by Echo Wild Game Training camp members who promised his parents they could turn “effeminate boys into manly men." Both of these deaths can be attributed to femmephobia, which refers to the societal devaluation and regulation of femininity. How parents understand, conceptualize, and respond to femininity in their children (of all genders) can have significant consequences for children's safety, well-being, and mental health.


Facilitators will take attendees through a “pilot” of a workshop in development for parents/caregivers with young families. The workshop aims to reduce family rejection, harm, and abuse, with a particular focus on preparing caregivers to support their children’s health and well-being across relational interactions (e.g., reducing intimate partner and gender-based violence). Workshop topics include gender socialization in families, assumptions about the gender binary and sexual orientation, assumptions about femininity, identifying unspoken rules concerning gender and femininity, debunking femininity myths, identifying and challenging femmephobia, and revaluing femininity. We focus on how femmephobic prejudices are socialized within families and impact children’s relational interactions across the lifespan. Attendees will be invited to participate in a number of interactive and self-reflection activities designed to inform and support parents/caregivers with young families. Attendees will also be asked to provide feedback on the content and process of the workshop to help further its development as an intervention offered directly to parents/caregivers as well as professionals working with parents.



SMF 230 Statistics Presentations with Professor Carl Rodrigue (1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.)


Dr. Carl Rodrigue’s statistics class will share short quantitative presentations on various topics related to sexuality, relationships, and families.



3 Topic Presentations (2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.)
Oral presentation #1 (20 mins)


Title: Into the maw: Violence as discourse against masculine oppression


Speakers: Ren Grafton & Dr. J. Andrew Deman



In her 1990 treatise, Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia argues that “In the beginning was nature. The background from which and against which our ideas of God were formed, nature remains the supreme moral problem. We cannot hope to understand sex and gender until we clarify our attitude toward nature.” For Paglia, Western society is built around a complex, misogynistic culture that enforces a double standard in which violence against women is tolerated while resistance to such violence is unnaturally repressed to such an extent that it takes nothing less than pagan gods and violent resistance to emancipate women. And this, perhaps not by coincidence, is exactly what author and advocate Jude Ellison S. Doyle portrays in their 2022 graphic novel, “Maw.” In the story that unfolds, a nature-based feminist cult in service to a pagan god offer a measured and righteous response to the casual violence against women in Western society by summoning, effectively, a world-ending deity. Steeped in the mythology of pagan women and presented through a series of juxtaposed characters of differing worldviews, Doyle’s story explores the consequences of non-violence and the simmering hatred that drives women in a patriarchal society to solicit the wrath of nature. The message that emerges warns that complacency is not an option because it will get women killed; that men will always choose to see monsters and victims instead of people; that the only way to prevent victimization is to victimize oppressors - either take up a blade and join the battle or get out of the way. This team-delivered talk will present the thesis of Maw as a prompt by which students of sexuality and gender studies can initiate productive conversations about the role of non-violence in preserving social divides in Western culture.


Oral presentation #2 (20 mins)


Title: Vegan ecofeminism, infertility treatments, and an interspecies reproductive justice


Speaker: Dr. Katy Fulfer



Vegans (i.e., people who strive to do as little harm as possible to nonhuman animals) often experience a feeling of tension or anxiety when confronting the use of animals and animal products in medicine. However, such anxieties have not been expressed around infertility treatments and reproductive technologies, areas of medicine which involve animal products and animal testing. This presentation is a first step in exploring how vegan commitments might interact with a feminist analysis of infertility treatments. I outline a framework I refer to as vegan ecofeminism. In extending reproductive justice to include nonhuman animals, Greta Gaard (2010) argues that infertility treatments and industrial animal agriculture are both sites of patriarchal coercion and commodification. First, I build on Gaard’s argument by highlighting how infertility treatments were developed with animal experimentation and in tandem with animal biotechnology. In light of these historic and on-going connections, I argue that using reproductive technologies will always entail a moral residue that points to a structural injustice done to animals. Second, I highlight ways in which these industries intertwine to support eugenic and White supremacist rhetoric about whose reproduction is deemed valuable. Most of my analysis raises systemic issues, yet in the third part of my presentation, I offer some tentative suggestions for how people who use reproductive technologies in their family-making endeavors might do so in a way that challenges the normalization of animal use. Namely, I borrow from C. Lou Hamilton’s (2019) queer politics of mourning to suggest the adoption of a contextual moral vegan practice.


Oral presentation #3 (20 mins)


Title: “You’ve got your mother in a whirl, not sure if you’re a boy or a girl”: An exploration of nonbinary emerging adults’ identity formation  and coming out process


Speakers: Hal Ribeiro & Dr. Denise Whitehead



There is a growing awareness of nonbinary people in Canada, with over 41,000 people identifying as nonbinary on the 2021 census. The academic research in this area is severely lacking. This research explored through three main questions: 1) At what age do people recognise that they are not cisgender and what led them to this discovery? 2) How long after they recognised they were not cisgender did they start to identify as nonbinary? And 3) What were their coming-out experiences? This qualitative research explored these questions using semi-structured interviews with six participants between the ages of 20 and 26 who identified as nonbinary or under the nonbinary umbrella. Preliminary analysis found that all participants discovered the term nonbinary in later adolescence, typically in high school or in university. Similarly, most individuals recalled instances where they recognised that they were not cisgender, even if they did not have the words for it, as early as junior kindergarten. These results give us a glimpse of understanding the topic of nonbinary identity formation and coming out experiences.



Community Keynote Speaker: Cory Silverberg (4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Topic: Sex is a funny word, and other things adults forget


Cory is the co-author of four books including The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability (with Fran Odette and Miriam Kaufman), What Makes a Baby, Sex Is a Funny Word, and most recently You Know, Sex, all with Fiona Smyth.


Since 1997 Cory has developed and facilitated workshops for hundreds of agencies and organizations serving both youth and adults across North America on a range of topics including gender expression and identity, sexuality and disability, sexual pleasure, sexual communication, technology, and access + inclusion. Their work encourages us to think and talk about sex, gender, and disability in more expansive ways, and to talk about sexuality and reproduction in a way that includes all kinds of families.


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