Transgender case

NAIROBI, KENYA – THE STATE is finding it difficult to deal with a gender identity case involving a transsexual seeking recognition, a court was told on Tuesday.

Issues raised in the petition, a state counsel said are “tricky” and need “more time” for finding a comprehensive response.

Audrey Mbugua, 26, who was born Andrew Mbugua has sued the Attorney General as well as the Kenya National Examination Council.

The petitioner is seeking a change of name, re-issuance of certificates and identity documents reflective of the new gender.

Mbugua says there has been prejudice and discrimination in the council refusal to oblige to the request.

“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,” one of the State lawyers said.

Mbugua sat the KCSE exams as a male candidate, was issued with a certificate bearing the name Andrew and sex recorded as such.

The petitioner was said to be suffering from a gender identity disorder, exhibited symptoms related to transsexualism and is yet to undergo organ realignment.

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

Mbugua wants the authorities to recognise the changed status, reflect it on the national identity card and passport.

KNEC is said to be considering changing the gender indicator on certificates of individuals who have “sufficient reason and evidence” to prove that their case is on merit.

The council has also demanded a presentation of “recent medical reports as evidence of actual sex change” though it is yet to develop a policy in the provision for change of name for persons who have undergone gender alteration to facilitate re-issuance of certificates.

In the suit, Mbugua accuses the council of refusing to effect the change and giving “false hope” that it would act on the matter.

“The council’s refusal had also caused her to suffer distress and depression due to the daily stigma of being unable to secure employment,” an affidavit read in part.

The petitioner said there was no objection to the respondents being granted more time.

The court declined to grant the 30 day period requested by the State saying the case was of an urgent nature and set August 6 as the date for compliance confirmation.

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