Top News

Newfoundland and Labrador transgender activist to participate in film screening, book reading in Tokyo

Transgender activist Gemma Hickey leaves for Japan today and will be in the country for six days, hosted by the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. The embassy will host several events, including a film screening, book reading and several LGBTQ rights-focused talks.
Transgender activist Gemma Hickey leaves for Japan today and will be in the country for six days, hosted by the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. The embassy will host several events, including a film screening, book reading and several LGBTQ rights-focused talks. - Contributed

Gemma Hickey on journey to Japan

Gemma Hickey was the first Atlantic Canadian to receive a gender-neutral passport last year, and now Hickey will use it to visit Japan – a country that requires transgender people who have undergone gender affirmation surgery to be sterilized.

Hickey said they’re not anticipating any issues entering the country with the “X” on their passport — a common symbol for people who don't identify with the male or female gender.

“But I’ll certainly be keeping everyone posted on that,” said Hickey, who leaves today for the six-day visit.

Hickey said while they’re in Tokyo there will be a rally for same-sex marriage.

The Japanese Civil Code limits marriage to different-sex couples. Therefore, same-sex couples in Japan are not able to marry, and same-sex couples are not granted rights derived from marriage.

“I know that the LBGTQ community over there are looking forward to me coming, and I’m also looking forward to networking with them,” Hickey told The Telegram.

The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo is hosting Hickey for a screening of the documentary, “Just Be Gemma” and a reading from Hickey’s upcoming book, “Almost Feral.”

The film follows Hickey’s journey through gender transformation, and “Almost Feral” – set to be released in June – tells of Hickey’s walk across Newfoundland to raise funds and awareness for survivors of religious institutional abuse.

Hickey calls the book a “love story” because it’s about learning to love oneself, and it highlights Hickey’s realization that they were transgender and their decision to pursue hormone therapy.

“Just Be Gemma” will be screened at the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo in partnership with the LGBTQ film festival, Rainbow Reel Tokyo, followed by a discussion. The events are free and open to the public.

Hickey will also answer media questions and participate in a roundtable discussion.

“I wanted to add to the choir of voices of LBGTQ activists in Japan, and I hope that it resonates with people over there, and that it starts some dialogue around same-sex marriage – and also transgender rights – because obviously that’s certainly on the forefront in Japan,” said Hickey.

“I happen to be lucky enough to be a part of the same-sex (marriage) fight here in Canada, and also for transgender rights and non-binary persons, so I hope that I can help my fellow activists in some way over there by having my presence there and talking about my own personal experience.”

Hickey said the response to the upcoming visit to Japan has been “truly incredible.”

The Canadian Embassy and Rainbow Reel Tokyo have been advertising the film screening and book talk, and as a result they’ve received many positive messages from people in Japan, Hickey said.

juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

Recent Stories