Government News

Transgender activist Audrey Mbugua sues government

Renown Activist Audrey Mbugua

Audrey Mbugua and two others -Maureen Muiya and Arnest Thaiya- have filed a joint petition before a Kenyan High Court. The trio are pleading with the court to issue orders compelling the Kenyan government to facilitate a change of their names and gender as what appears in their official documents does not reflect the entire truth that they are transgenders.

The three aver that they have been victims of abuse and discrimination caused by the pain of living with a name that does not reflect their gender appearance. The applicants also stated having been deprived of their dignity as at times not only have they been forced to strip naked but also publicly flogged.

The applicants asserted that they had already followed the due process but it was to no avail and hence the high court was their final straw. The three asserted that they had written to the registrar of births seeking a change of name and gender on their official documents. However, they were unsuccessful in that their application was denied for various reasons inter alia that the Births and Deaths Registration Act had no provision to enable such a change to be effected and that only a doctor could enable change of their sex.

An affidavit of one of the applicants, Audrey, revealed that previous attempts to procure a gender reassignment surgery at the Kenyatta National Hospital had been futile as the government facility declined the request. Further attempts to compel the hospital to perform the surgery via the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council had also been in vain as the Council did not respond to the request.

Seen court documents revealed that Audrey has been a victim of ridicule, suspicion, unwarranted arrests, assaults, discrimination, denial of services and untold mental suffering. The documents also reveal that Audrey has had run-ins with the police who usually take Audrey to be a gay man.

“Having suffered a lot of discrimination, violence and suspicion, I was bereft of human dignity and peace. Identification documents for people who are cis-gender (a person whose sense of identity and gender corresponds with their sex at birth) are taken for granted, (but) are a matter of life and death to a transgender person,” read the application.

According to Maureen and Arnest their names as on their identification letters are Maurice Munyaka Muia and Annet Jennifer Muthoni. The two categorically stated that they have had to endure the same humiliation as Audrey Mbugua. The former complained of harassment from police officers for being mistaken as a gay man whereas both stated being stripped naked in order to prove individual gender identities at some point in their lives.

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