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Trans Competency for Lawyers – Navigating Gender Together

September 13, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Seminar Overview      

Transgender and gender non-conforming people face unique legal issues because of their gender identity and/or expression. They are also people who need legal services for everyday legal problems. Lawyers and staff can expect to work with transgender and gender non-conforming people as staff, clients or as another party or counsel.  How can lawyers and advocates work to end discrimination and support our trans clients? Lawyers have Rules of Professional Conduct that require us to treat people with civility and respect. We must also adhere to provincial human rights legislation. Join Gemma Hickey, author and trans activist, and Carey Majid, KC from the Human Rights Commission to learn about these challenges and what we can do to make sure our legal services are as inclusive as possible.

Topics will include:

  1. A lawyer’s ethical obligations
  2. Terminology – who are trans people and how do we talk about them respectfully?
  3. Legal issues related to client identification and verification, privacy and confidentiality, legal vs. chosen name/pronouns, legal changes to identity documents, same sex marriage, identification in court/tribunals, and human rights and the duty to accommodate.

Seminar Presenters

Gemma Hickey

A multi-awarding winning international author, human rights advocate and global speaker from Newfoundland and Labrador, Gemma Hickey’s advocacy has made headlines worldwide and changed the legal landscape of Canada expanding the rights, dignity, and equality of women, the LBGTQ2+ community and survivors of religious institutional abuse.

Gemma became a well-known force for change in 2003, when they travelled to Halifax to present a brief on same-sex marriage to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. In 2004, they co-lead the movement that legalized same-sex marriage in Canada as national President of Egale, and in 2008 as national President of PFLAG Canada, they lobbied Canadian Blood Services to end the gay blood ban.

In 2017, their court application requesting a gender-neutral birth certificate spurred the Newfoundland and Labrador government to change its law, and Gemma became the first person to receive a non-binary birth certificate and Passport.

In 2013, Gemma founded the Pathways Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports survivors of religious institutional abuse. To raise awareness and funds for the cause, they walked across Newfoundland in July of 2015. In 2019, they co-founded ACTS Canada (Advocates for Clergy Trauma Survivors) to support survivors nation-wide and represented Canadian clergy abuse survivors in Rome during the first ever Papal Summit on clergy sexual abuse.

Gemma’s physical and personal journey through gender transformation is the subject of the documentary, Just Be Gemma. The film aired on CBC television and the Documentary Channel in 2017, screened at various Canadian film festivals in 2018, and made its international debut in 2019 in Japan.

Gemma’s memoir, Almost Feral (Breakwater 2019) won Best Atlantic Published Book Award, and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award at the Atlantic Book Awards. In 2020 CBC Books listed Gemma as one of 24 Canadian writers to be featured on their Writers to Watch List and named, Almost Feral as one of 40 Canadian books on the summer reading list. The book continues to receive rave reviews and was recently acquired by a publisher in Japan.

Gemma has consulted with all levels of government on gender equity, inclusion and diversity and was invited to attend Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology to the LGBTQ2+ community in 2017. In 2021, because of their lobbying efforts to ban conversion therapy in Canada, they were invited back to Ottawa by Justice Minister David Lametti to witness the tabling of the bill and speak alongside him on Parliament Hill. Gemma has also given addresses at universities, and Canadian Embassies in different parts of the world. In Geneva, they spoke about gender equity, diversity and sexual violence before various countries and UN bodies. In Rome, they spoke to Vatican officials on the importance of releasing all documents pertaining to residential schools. This fall, they return to Rome and Geneva, and finally The Hague, to speak at the International Court of Justice on the rights of the child.

Their dedication to social justice and community engagement has led them to serve on the boards of diverse organizations, including the St. John’s Status of Women’s Council, Food Security Network, Human Rights Association, and Community Mediation Services. They were instrumental in the creation of two supportive housing facilities: Marguerite’s Place, for women and The Tommy Sexton Centre for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Gemma is also passionate about the arts and has served on a range of volunteer boards such as the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Writer’s Alliance of NL, Literary Arts Foundation, Tramore Productions and Resource Centre for the Arts.

An emerging filmmaker, they recently produced a short documentary entitled On The Fringe highlighting the plight of female sex workers during the pandemic in St. John’s. Upcoming documentaries include Road to Rome which follows clergy abuse survivors from different parts of the world on a pilgrimage to the Vatican and In the Name of the Father, an auto-ethnographic take on the heteropatriarchy and coloniality within the Catholic Church.

In 2012 Gemma was recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for their contributions to human rights in Canada, and in 2016, named a Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Champion. Since 2010, they have worked as the Executive Director of Artforce NL, an arts-based charity that helps marginalized youth overcome socio-economic barriers.

Gemma is currently a Masters Candidate in Gender Studies at Memorial University. They live in St. John’s where they enjoy hiking the coastline and swimming in fresh water all year round.

Carey Majid, KC

Carey Majid, KC (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission is an independent at-arm’s length government agency that is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the province.

Carey is a lawyer with over 20 years of experience. She practices exclusively in the area of human rights and administrative law. She was elected a Bencher of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2021 and appointed King’s Counsel in 2022. Carey is Chair of the Law Society’s Equity and Diversity Committee and also sits on the provincial Access to Justice Committee. Carey teaches the Law Society’s bar admission course on human rights and regularly presents on human rights and social justice issues to employers, government, community groups and in the media.

Registration Fee:   $57.50.00 ($50.00 + HST)         HST # R108086463

To register for this seminar, please click the following link:

CPD Credit:   2 hours


September 13, 2023
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Law Society of Newfoundland & Labrador


3rd Floor, Law Society Building
196-198 Water Street
St. John’s, Canada
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