Brenda Cossman

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Professor Brenda Cossman, FRSC, (born 1960) is a professor of Law at the University of Toronto. She holds degrees in law from Harvard and the University of Toronto, and an undergraduate degree from Queen's University. In 2002 and 2003, she was a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, she was Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Her teaching and research is in the area of family law, feminist theory, law and film, and sexuality and the law. Her most recent book on Sexual Citizens: The Legal and Cultural Regulation of Sex and Belonging was published by Stanford University Press in 2007. Her publications include the co-authored Bad Attitudes on Trial: Pornography, Feminism and the Butler Decision (University of Toronto Press) and Censorship and the Arts (published by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries).

She is actively involved in law reform, particularly in the area of same sex couples and definitions of family. Recently, she authored reports for the Law Commission of Canada and the Ontario Law Reform Commission on the legal regulation of adult relationships.

Professor Cossman is also a frequent commentator in the media on issues relating to law and sexuality. She served as a member of the Pink Triangle Press Board of Directors for ten years, working as a frequent contributor to Xtra!

She is currently the Director at The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.


B.A. (Hon), Queen's University, 1982

LL.B. University of Toronto, 1986

LL.M. Harvard University, 1988


2009 David W. Mundell Medal for extraordinary contributions in legal writing, awarded by the Attorney General of Ontario.[1]
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2012)[2]
2013 Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize[3]



Sexual Citizens: The Legal and Cultural Regulation of Sex and Belonging, (Stanford University Press, 2007).

Privatization, Law and the Challenge of Feminism, ed, with Judy Fudge (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002)

Secularism’s Last Sigh: The Hindu Right and the (Mis)rule of Law, with Ratna Kapur (New Delhi/London, Oxford University Press, 1999); Paperback edition published 2001.

Subversive Sites: Feminist Engagement with Law in India with Ratna Kapur (Sage, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, 1996)

Bad Attitude/s on Trial: Pornography, Feminism and the Butler Decision, with Shannon Bell, Lise Gotell and Becki Ross, Toronto (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1997)

Censorship and the Arts in Canada: Law, Controversy, Debate, Facts (Toronto: Ontario Association of Art Galleries, 1995)


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