What you need to know:
- According to the nominated lawmaker who represents the disabled in Parliament, the fear of ridicule is so intense for individuals with the condition.
- The petition also calls for legislation to establish programmes for dealing with people with such disorder.
More than 100 Kenyans with a gender identity crisis have petitioned Parliament for the government to issue them with identity cards after their sex becomes apparent in adulthood.
The petition, signed by 20 people referred to as “a marginalised group with gender identity disorder”, was tabled Thursday by nominated MP Isaac Mwaura.
“These are people born with poorly formed genitalia and it is not possible to determine whether they are male or female at birth but as they grow older, their gender becomes apparent from their physical features,” Mr Mwaura said.
The condition, which is not widely known or recognised, baffled MPs who sought clarification on the number of affected people and its prevalence.
Mr Mwaura gave the example of an individual who grew up as Mary Waithera and went to a girls’ secondary school where she was captain.
But on finishing school, her male features started to show, forcing her to change her name to James Karanja.
He said the individual has found it difficult to access public services or go to university since the school certificate, which has a B minus, bears a female name.
The individual is in a dilemma as he cannot use a men’s washroom as he has to squat to relief himself because his sexual organs are not yet fully formed.
Parents of these individuals are also not able to tell the gender of their children until they are grown ups.
Mr Mwaura said Mr Karanja’s mother developed a mental illness as she did not know how to cope with the ridicule directed at her family after it was realised that the “girl” she had been bringing up all along was actually a “boy”.
According to the nominated lawmaker who represents the disabled in Parliament, the fear of ridicule is so intense for individuals with the condition that three of them who had offered to come to Parliament to witness the tabling of the petition withdrew at the last minute.
The MP said there were about 120 such people across the country.
He said apart from the Ministry of Interior coming up with a mechanism to issue them with identity cards, funds could be allocated for corrective surgery, which reportedly costs about Sh500,000.
The petition, which was yesterday directed to the National Administration and Security Committee by Speaker Justin Muturi, also calls for legislation to establish programmes for dealing with people with such disorders, and public awareness campaigns to end stigma and discrimination against them.