Give me a new ID; I’m neither a man nor a woman - Daily Nation

Give me a new ID; I’m neither a man nor a woman

Saturday June 5 2010

Andrew Mbugua, who has changed names to Audrey to reflect what she considers a new sexual status. Photos/JOSEPH KIHERI

Andrew Mbugua, who has changed names to Audrey to reflect what she considers a new sexual status. Photos/JOSEPH KIHERI 


In school, he was male. But now she feels she is a woman, and this unusual gender transition facing the 26-year-old person is driving “him” mad.

Andrew Mbugua’s voice, hair, and all other features are feminine, and her transitional condition has led to police harrassment and a stint in jail for alleged female impersonation although no charges were ever brought.

She has dropped Andrew in favour of Audrey, which she feels doesn’t easily give away her gender.

And she has written to the Registrar of Persons seeking new identification documents that explain the new traumatic sexual transformation that began when Andrew/Audrey was pursuing a university education.
She is a transsexual; in this case a person identified at birth as a male who now feels she is a female. This makes it very difficult to determine the applicant’s “real” gender.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, defines transsexualism as a condition in which an individual identifies with a physical sex that is not their biological one. It does not have to involved surgery but often involves treatment with male or female hormones.

Until the Registrar of Persons issues Andrew/Audrey with new identification documents that indicate the transsexual sex status, Mbugua says she will continue to face discrimination.

“I have written to the Registrar, and we hope he will respond,” Mbugua said, adding that if the request is not honoured, moving to court could be the next option.

Admission of transsexualism can often attract rejection and stigma, which Mbugua says is not easy to overcome given the unfairness to which the individual is subjected.

Dr Joseph Mwai, a Nakuru psychologist and medical doctor, says such cases do occur where the body produces and oversupply of male or female hormones.

“It takes the affected person time to heal, and it’s only an experienced counsellor who can assist him or her,” he said.

Mbugua, who comes from Ndumberi in Kiambu, was born and raised as a boy. While studying at Maseno University, he began to undergo a gender transition.

The unanticipated change has shattered the life of Audrey, who is now distressed and traumatised. At the age of 19, Audrey started to experience what she describes as discomfort with her own anatomy or what psychologists or psychiatrists call gender identity disorder.

Fearing she might grow a beard, she began plaiting her hair and applying makeup, which confused people.

On discovering her transsexual status, Audrey found it difficult to tell her parents and siblings. Her own father, she said, nearly collapsed on learning of her condition.

In order to emerge from self-denial, Audrey has not only decided to go public about her condition but to become a transgender activist as well.

She has established links with well-known American transgender activist Lynn Conway, a renowned computer scientist and an electrical engineer inventor, whose background is similar to Audrey’s.

He was born in 1938 and raised as a boy in White Plains, New York. While struggling with life in a male’s role, Conway married and fathered two children.

She only came to reveal her transsexual status in 1968, the same year she completed her transition to being a female and changed her name and identity.

Unlike Conway, Audrey has been unable to complete her transition owing to what she describes as legal requirements and unfair policies in Kenya.