Being heroic often means that one has accomplished great and difficult deeds. Sometimes it is a bit less than that, in that it is the challenging of the difficult wherein the heroism lies. Sometimes we shall not know the outcome of that challenge until long after the heroic act has been performed.
Audrey Mbugua is a 26-year-old Kenyan transwoman. She is currently suing both the Kenya National Examinations Council and the Attorney General for failing to recognizing her gender identity.
Audrey is seeking to have her name changed on the certificates she earned and her identity cards and to have those reflect her new gender. She says she has suffered prejudice and discrimination because of the reactions of potential employers to the disparity between her appearance and the data on her identification.
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.
--lawyer for the State
Judge Weldon Korir refused to grant a 30-day period sought by the state, saying the case was of urgent nature. Then he gave he respondents three weeks to reply instead.
The parties are to meet again in court on August 6.
Mbugua sat for examinations in 2001 and was issued a certificate bearing her birth name and listing her sex as male. She earned a grade of A-. She says that the fact that the exam papers bear a different name than her current legal name, which she changed by deed poll and publishing in newspapers, and bearing a gender that does not reflect her appearance is "a violation of her rights and has rendered her unemployable."
Audrey transitioned while in college, but is yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Audrey was treated for her gender dysphoria at Mathare mental hospital and was diagnosed as being transsexual in 2008. She then attempted to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but medical authorities blocked that. She then asked the Commission on Administrative Justice to intervene on her behalf, but the agency refused, saying the matter did not fall under their mandate.
She also desires to have her name and gender reflected on on her national identity card and her passport. She says that she has sought an audience with authorities to have this change made in vain.
The process of changing my name and gender in my identity, travel and academic documents was fraught with challenges such as lack of understanding among public officers in charge of these processes.
Audrey currently works as a project officer at a transgender lobby.