Kenya has 1,524 intersex persons

Monday November 04 2019

Intersex people agitate for their rights during a demonstration in Nairobi on October 26, 2016. The 2019 census says there are 1,524 intersex persons in Kenya. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


There are 1,524 intersex people in the country, according to the 2019 Population and Housing Census released Monday.

The results, released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Director-General Zachary Mwangi at State House, Nairobi, captured the number of the intersex people per county.

Nairobi and Kiambu counties account for the largest numbers, with nearly 400, while the counties with the smallest numbers are Lamu (four) and Tana River (two). Most of the other counties have between 20 and 40.

For the first time, the census took into account the third gender following a recommendation by the Kenya Law Reform Commission and Intersex Task Force that there was a great need to amend Kenyan laws to have a third gender, intersex (I) recognised.

Chaired by Mr Ng’ang’a Mbega, the team said the marker (I) should be introduced in official documents, including national identity cards, passports, National Health Insurance Fund forms and other crucial official documents that require identification by sex.



They said this would ensure equal treatment, respect for, and protection of the dignity of the intersex people in the country in the criminal justice system and life in general.

The team had estimated the number to be 779,414.

The report defines an intersex person as one born with biological sexual characteristics that cannot be exclusively categorised as female or male due to their inherent and mixed anatomical, hormonal, gonadal (ovaries and testes) or chromosomal (X and Y) patterns, which could be apparent before birth, at birth, during childhood, puberty or adulthood.

Based on data collected from 112 key informants across 37 counties, the task force formed by the Attorney-General on May 27, 2017 sought to document the number, distribution, experiences and challenges of intersex people.

It found that most of those in school age had low levels of education, with about 10 per cent attaining tertiary education.


On healthcare, 54 per cent of the respondents ranked their experience accessing healthcare as poor due to the high cost of treatment and existence of very few specialised hospitals.

The team also found that they lacked legal recognition and documentation as most of them did not have birth certificates while for those who had them, the sex recorded conflicts with their self-recognised sex.

“The birth certificate makes it difficult for these people to acquire identity cards, also compounded by their physical appearance that conflicts with the recorded sex,” indicated the team.