Transgender people in Kenya have submitted a memorandum on the 2016 Health Bill, currently before the Senate, seeking to be legally recognised and to stop the stigma associated with transsexuality.
They say there is a national stigma associated with being transgender and that they face a number of challenges when seeking healthcare in the country.
The submission follows a request by the Senate Committee on Health, currently sitting at Parliament.
“Transgender people are not Homosexuals (gays and lesbians), hermaphrodites, cross dressers or prostitutes,” the memo reads.
They say there is a gap in the current health laws on providing sex reassignment therapy by medical practitioners among the healthcare providers.
“We propose inclusion of sex reassignment therapy to be permitted by this Act and inclusion in the Health Bill to solve these challenges,” Audrey Mbugua, the head of Transgender Education and Advocacy, states in the memo.
The transsexuals want sex reassignment therapy to consist of psychiatric, endocrine and surgical procedures to bring about desired behavioural and medical outcomes.
They have spelt out the criteria to be met by those seeking sex reassignment therapy, including provisions that “the individual must be diagnosed with gender identity disorder; a persistent discomfort with assigned sex and an uncontrollable drive to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment.”
They also say that a person who wants a sex change “shall be at least 16 years of age to access psychiatric and endocrine interventions.”
“The individual shall be at least 18 years of age to access surgical procedures such as, but not limited to orchiectomy, phalloplasty, hysterectomy and vaginoplasty,” the memorandum reads.
It adds that documentation by a psychiatrist that the individual has completed a minimum of 12 months of successful continuous full-time real-life experience in their new sex be a pre-requisite.
“After sex reassignment, the psychiatrist or the surgeon in charge of the patient’s treatment shall communicate the change of sex to the area principal registrar of persons who shall proceed to make changes in the national register and the civil registrar who shall make alterations in the individual’s birth certificate,” the memorandum further states.
“We humbly submit the above for inclusion in the Health Bill which will be fundamental to the enjoyment of the health rights of transsexuals in Kenya,” the memo reads.