Trans* In Kenya: A Woman Tells Her Story

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Trans* In Kenya: A Woman Tells Her Story

Lisa's Note: It’s hard enough to survive as a gay or lesbian in Kenya. Living as a transperson in Kenya and trying to access medical care brings a different complexity.

In Kenya public hospitals deny medical care to transgender people, and government offices refuse to change their identification. Jenni and I spend an afternoon with one pioneering transwoman working withTransgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) in Kenya. She practically earned an nursing degree while doing her own research on how to medically transition from male to female. Now, she shares her knowledge with other transgender Kenyans. She requested to remain anonymous for her personal safety.

When did you first understand your gender identity?

I first came to know that I was transgender when I discovered the internet. This was back in 2000. The first thing I googled was “boy who feels like a girl” and that’s how I learned all about the words ‘gender identity disorder’, ‘transgender’, ‘transsexual’, ‘gender reassignment surgery’, and ‘hormone replacement therapy’. I found out that I wasn’t alone. That what I was going through wasn’t new.

What has been your experience of the medical system while transitioning as a woman in Kenya?

The medical system in Kenya has no policies governing the treatment of transgender patients. When I first wanted to begin my transition process, I considered psychological therapy as is recommended in the WPATH Standards of Care. However, the cost of $100 was too high for me at that time and I could not afford it. So I googled and found a website that provided users with the proper dosing for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I went to find these hormones and the hormone blockers at the local chemists [pharmacy]. Luckily, I was able to purchase them without a prescription.

Still because of the medical system being the way it is, I didn’t trust the public health centers to provide me with proper care and keep my information confidential. They would likely stigmatize me and not treat me just like any other patient. So, I went to a private endocrinologist to provide me with guidance on my HRT. I also went to a private general surgeon to undergo a bilateral orchidectomy. This was to ensure I had little or no testosterone in my body and therefore reduce the amount of estrogen I would need to take while further reducing the long term costs of transition.

What was the reaction of your community, neighbors, and family to your transition?

I told my mom about my transition about seven years ago. I wrote her a letter and she eventually told everyone in our immediate family. It took them a while



Comments [1]

Conlite's picture

Awesome interview!  And total

Awesome interview!  And total respect to all these courageous pioneers you have been telling us about.