Fall trial date set for birth certificate case
Gemma Hickey looks forward to day in Supreme Court
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...