Fall trial date set for birth cer­tifi­cate case

Gemma Hickey looks for­ward to day in Supreme Court

The Western Star - - Close To Home - BY TARA BRAD­BURY SALTWIRE NET­WORK

With an air­line ticket that read “Ms” in front of the name and an ap­pear­ance that looked quite mas­cu­line, trans­gen­der ac­tivist Gemma Hickey re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion.

On a flight home to St. John’s from an­other prov­ince, Hickey was con­fronted by a flight at­ten­dant who let it be known she was con­fused by Hickey’s gen­der.

“The lady on the plane was ques­tion­ing my iden­tity. She was check­ing the seats and it was very un­for­tu­nate. I was ac­cused of not be­ing in the right seat,” Hickey said Fri­day.

Hickey’s mother, who was also on the flight, was par­tic­u­larly up­set, Hickey said.

Hickey, 40, was in Supreme Court in St. John’s with lawyer Brit­tany Whalen Fri­day morn­ing for the con­tin­u­a­tion of Hickey’s case against the New­found­land and Labrador govern­ment to have a gen­der other than male or fe­male rec­og­nized on of­fi­cial doc­u­ments. Hickey iden­ti­fies as non-bi­nary — not male, nor fe­male — and wants that op­tion on birth cer­tifi­cates. Nov. 22 is the day Hickey will get to present the case.

“I am here be­cause I do know that there are many chil­dren out there strug­gling, they don’t fit into one box or an­other, and I’m like that, too,” Hickey told reporters out­side the court­house. “I don’t fit into either cat­e­gory. I’m in my own cat­e­gory and I want to carve out a place for them and for me.

“We still have a long way to go to change hearts and minds, and chang­ing the law is a step to­wards that.”

It’s not Hickey’s first time chal­leng­ing the prov­ince in court. Hickey co-led the move­ment that le­gal­ized same-sex mar­riage in this prov­ince in 2004. Ear­lier this year, Hickey was awarded the Hu­man Rights Cham­pion Award for an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to hu­man rights in this prov­ince, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

Whalen said she and Hickey are chal­leng­ing the change-of­sex des­ig­na­tion pro­vi­sion of the Vi­tal Statis­tics Act on the grounds that it is un­con­sti­tu­tional. Mem­bers of the pub­lic who wish to op­pose Hickey’s case in court can ap­ply for in­ter­vener sta­tus. Hickey, who has a re­li­gious stud­ies de­gree, isn’t one to shy away from de­bat­ing scrip­ture, if — like in the 2004 same-sex mar­riage le­gal case — that’s what peo­ple want to use to jus­tify their op­po­si­tion to trans­gen­der rights.

“I would say that God is love. Scrip­ture’s open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion,” Hickey said. “I re­ally love, re­ally en­joy de­bat­ing scrip­ture with peo­ple. I wel­come that con­ver­sa­tion all the time.”


Gemma Hickey (right) and lawyer Brit­tany Whalen speak to mem­bers of the me­dia af­ter Hickey’s case against the pro­vin­cial govern­ment was called in Supreme Court in St. John’s Fri­day morn­ing. Hickey is tak­ing le­gal ac­tion to have a gen­der other than male...

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