When one is too woman to be a man

Tuesday May 28 2013

By VINCENT AGOYA [email protected]

A gender identity case by transsexual seeking a change of name in documents to reflect “her” new status, is giving the state a hard time.

Issues raised in the petition, a state counsel told court Tuesday, are “tricky” and need “more time” in order to find a comprehensive response.

In the case, Audrey Mbugua, 26, who was born Andrew Mbugua, has sued the Attorney General and the Kenya National Examinations Council for failing to recognise her rare condition.

The petitioner is seeking a change of name and fresh certificates and identity cards that reflect her new gender. She says she has suffered prejudice and discrimination through the authorities’ refusal to recognise her altered state.

“We realise that the matter is tricky... We may have to liaise with the registrar of births and deaths for the necessary procedures to be followed before we can put in a proper reply,” a State lawyer said.

Judge Weldon Korir Tuesday declined to grant the 30-day period prayed for by the State, saying the case was of an urgent nature and instead gave the respondents three weeks to come up with a reply.

A compliance confirmation date was set for August 6 .

Mbugua who sat the KCSE examination in 2001 was issued with a certificate bearing the names “Andrew”, and sex, “male”.

Earlier he was diagnosed for a gender identity disorder and exhibits symptoms related to trans-sexualism in dressing style and make-up, but is yet to undergo organ re-alignment.

In the petition “she” says that the fact that “her” exam papers bear a different gender and name “is discriminatory, a violation of her rights and has rendered her unemployable”.

She wants the authorities to recognise her new status and change the name from Andrew to Audrey to match the femininity.

She also wants the new name reflected on the particulars on her national identity card and passport. She says in the petition that she had sought audience from the respective authorities in vain.

The national examiner initially told her that it could consider changing the gender indicator on the certificate of individuals who have “sufficient reason and evidence”