Seeking a gender neutral birth certificate: Gemma Hickey challenges N.L. options

A St. John's activist who doesn't identify as either a man or a woman wants the Newfoundland and Labrador government to issue a birth certificate that reflects that.

Born a woman, St. John's activist wants to be known as just a 'person'

Gemma Hickey doesn't identify as either male or female, but those are the only options on the forms at Service NL. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

A St. John's activist who doesn't identify as either a man or a woman wants the Newfoundland and Labrador government to issue a birth certificate that reflects that.

"I applied for a new birth certificate that identifies me as non-binary," said Gemma Hickey on Wednesday, after dropping off a change of sex designation form at the vital statistics division of Service NL.

The change-of-sex form that Hickey filed Wednesday doesn't include a 'neither' option, so the alternative 'non-binary' had to be hand-written. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

There are only two options on the application form — male and female — so Hickey had to write in an alternate choice and wait to see how the paperwork is processed.

"I'm hoping to start a process," Hickey said. "I'm not sure what will happen, but I'm keeping an open mind. It felt good to actually do this."

Hickey, 40, was born a woman and came out as gay before realizing that being transgender was an option.

"I've been on testosterone for about 14 months now and feeling great about the changes. I just had top surgery. I had my chest reconstructed in January and I'm feeling great about that, but I don't want any other surgeries," Hickey told CBC News.

"I don't want to change my name. So for me, I want to be seen as a person … Everybody deserves to be identified as they want."

Gemma Hickey said staff at the vital statistics office were respectful, but couldn't say if the application will be approved. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Hickey, who set up a foundation to help survivors of sexual abuse, was assaulted by a priest decades ago and has struggled with body image.

Walking across the island in 2015 in a 900-kilometre Hope Walk raised awareness and money to improve services for victims of abuse at religious institutions.

With files from Krissy Holmes