Changing the Future for Kenya's ITGNC Community
The Landscape of Our Work
By most accounts, Kenya is a ‘moderate’ country as compared with other countries in Africa. However, there are a myriad of issues that face Intersex, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (ITGNC) persons.
These have ranged from:
- forced stripping by members of the public and the police;
- sexual, verbal and physical abuse; denial of basic services in governmental agencies;
- lack of recognition of their gender identities in government policies or effective changes of name;
- denial of adequate healthcare including hormonal therapy;
- denial of educational and identity documents;
- evictions from places of residence;
- denial of gainful employment;
- lack of access to basic needs for example toilet stalls.
Most of these violations go unreported.
All this happens due to an ignorant and sometimes wilfully capricious and biased public, based on their fear of the ‘other’ or what they do not understand.
ITGNC persons often face reverse persecution when they report these incidents and are blamed for having caused the attacks or situations.
As a result of such attacks, feelings of insecurity and unfairness, isolation, lack of autonomy and the non-acceptance of their identities, the ITGNC community in Kenya is faced with issues of:
- substance dependency
- lack of physical, emotional and mental wellbeing
- lack of decent work or sources of income.
However, the ITGNC community has also built the resilience, courage and strength, to forge ahead despite all the challenges.
“ITGNC persons often face reverse persecution when they report incidents and are blamed for having caused the attacks or situations.
The passing of Kenya's new 2010 Constitution created a path to protection from discrimination for all Kenyans through The Bill of Rights. Jinsiangu, and other peer organisations, continue to push for the right to protection and recognition for IGTNC individuals.
The Courts have been quite revolutionary in awarding damages to ITGNC persons who have litigated before them and been able to prove violations were committed against them.
ITGNC individuals have successfully advocated for their right to change their names legally using deed polls. However, recognition of name changes on National Identity Cards and the right to alter one's gender marker remain difficult. Few have had success in this regard.
Since our foundation, Jinsiangu has evolved from a small group of intersex and transgender Nairobians who wanted to meet and talk to others like them, to a burgeoning organisation working to address issues of service provision, sensitisation, visibility and representation for ITGNC individuals in Kenya.