Wednesday, October 14, 2009


During the time I have been in this new job, I have had the opportunity to do lots and lots of reading and research on these trans issues and all the hullabaloo about transgender, transsexuals and transvestite persons. Indeed there is much more to read about and learn but most of the information (got mainly from the Internet) is the same and is true.

When I sat down and decided to write something to put into the blog, I couldn't help but think about all I had read about the struggles, pains, joys, sorrows, fights, love, hate, acceptance, rejection, and all that the transgender/ transsexual people have gone through in being who they really are. I draw a lot of my thoughts from the community here in Kenya and specifically from one activist who had dedicated practically her whole life including experiences to educating the general public (here in reference, the Kenyan public) about the transgender community in Kenya, about what they go through, their issues with the law in relation to registration, medical issues such as the lack of policies and so forth.

Im sure most of you who know me, maybe in person or just by guesswork know exactly who I am talking about and for those who don't, its easy to know since if you Google her name or just the words 'Kenya' and 'transgender' together, most of the articles are by her. She is eloquent, intelligent, can be difficult and downright annoying because she may come across as insensitive or arrogant but if you filter that out you are able to know where she is coming from. I like her articles, mostly because it gives the trans community in Kenya a voice and a chance for the willing-to-learn public to know and understand what it is we fight for daily.

In Kenya its very difficult to survive as a trans woman. Maybe its so even for other places in the world. I read somewhere that its easier for a FTM to transition than it is for a MTF. Why? Because basically the foetus in the womb when developing, is firstly female cum androgynous then if its a male, it graduates into its masculine state while if its female it just develops into the female from where it was initially. I have just put this in a very simple way and I am sure there are tons of mistakes and miss-outs. But I hope you get the point.

First of all, there are absolutely no laws that govern such incidences or persons. So we are neither supported by law, nor are we against it. It simply doesn't exist! As the activist I spoke about earlier says in one of her articles, it is important that we try and have some laws put in place to help out our tribulations. One such issue is the one of birth certificates and identity cards. Because most transgender persons grow in their birth gender upto adult age, they end up getting ID cards that indicate the name and gender that they are so against to but have no other choice but to accept. Secondly, even when such persons have discovered that they are indeed transgendered, there are no medical policies and/or guidelines that assist in the correct measures to be undertaken in such a case. For example, many medical practitioners in Kenya do not believe that trans people exist and hence, when encountered with such a case, shun it away saying there is no such thing, “these things only happen in the west”.

I have written a lot on what is going on and I totally forgot to mention what I am experiencing myself since this blog is supposed to be based on what is happening to me. But it would be very selfish of me to write all the time about myself when I am surrounded by bigger things than I can imagine.

As my friend told me once, “These things are bigger than you are. Its not always about you you you.”.
May have sounded harsh but its true. The picture is indeed big. My only hope is that the role I play, however small it may seem, will one day be seen as useful and eventually helpful.

We all have struggles. We just handle them in different ways.


Monica Roberts said...

I love reading yours and Audrey's words.

Trans is just one of the many labels that makes up the unique individual you are.

And yes, every now and then you have to write about what's going on in the world as you see it.

We don't have many continental Africans transition stories out there on the Net, and your perspective as a trans person in Kenya is a vitally needed one.

Amy K. said...

“these things only happen in the west." Wow. Maybe it's something in the soil out here. Yeah, that's got to be it. North American soil causes transsexualism. The ironic thing is that these are professionals who are supposed to be intelligent. I've often found that the learned can be just as bad as the generally ignorant.

I've never heard or read of Audrey Mbugua, but I'll be reading her article next. :)

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