Hidden secrets of Intersex People in Kenya
The agonizing cry of the Intersex People in Kenya is a dark cloud yet real: ‘We wonder why God created us! ‘Why does he allow us to go through all this tribulations?’ ‘We feel it was better if we had not existed than to be subjected to all this’.’We are different, so what? Are we really human?, an intersex person screams. Intersex people may be said to have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. The word intersex was initially adopted by intersex activists who criticized the traditional medical approaches to seek to be heard in the construction of new approaches.
Unfortunately Intersex People in Kenya and the rest f the world are refereed to as hermaphrodites a derogatory term in my opinion, that groups humans with animal species that are of unknown sex.
It is a known fact that few or none are interested in advancing the discussion of the Intersex people in Kenya, to the extent and refusal of recognizing it as a third gender. This is Trevor’s chilling account.
Intersex People in Kenya, Trevor’s chilling Interview
One of the Intersex People in Kenya is Trevor, born in Kakamega County in Western Kenya. At birth he was identified as a girl and named Doreen (not real name). At the age of thirteen (13) years while in class seven (7), in one of the local schools, he started the journey to discover his gender. ‘I was wrongly forced to put on dresses while my inner urge prodded me to realize that I was different’. The manhood feeling was so dominant that I could not resist. A fact, that later caused me trouble.
‘At my age I was not privy of what would transpire in the future’. ‘I felt comfortable dressing like a man, and eventually this led me to change my dressing style so that I may be compatible with my feelings’. ‘This made me to constantly disagree with my parents and relatives’.
‘I had to run away from home after things went sour; I left for my sister’s place, who willingly accommodated me and allowed me complete my primary education’ However, his sister who was living in the city at the time was unable to continue paying for his school fees, so he decided to go back home where life became very unbearable. ‘No one was willing to sponsor continuity of my studies’. ‘They even went ahead and forced me to dress like a woman in order for them to accept me.’
‘I found this to be very challenging’. The true character of his father started coming out strongly. ‘He decided to destroy all my male clothing without my permission, and he was unapologetic’. The villagers and neighbors couldn’t understand what was happening. ‘My father decided to cunningly send emissaries in form of girls to test or probably find out my real identity’. It did not work. The Intersex People in Kenya continue to be subjected into this intentional predicament that only perpetuates psychological trauma.
One day in the evening while Trevor was strolling in the village, he was confronted and accosted by a group of about seven (7) rowdy young men, who forcefully demanded for sex. ‘I courageously resisted but was brutally beaten up and almost left for the dead’. ‘It was a Good Samaritan who came to my rescue and took me to Malombe (not real name) hospital in the locality for treatment’,’as an intersex person their was delay in receiving treatment as the medics argued about my gender’.
‘None of my relatives was willing to pay for the hospital bill yet I was admitted for two (2) days’. ‘It only took the heart of a sympathetic doctor in the hospital who offered to pay the bill which had only amounted to Kenya shillings eight hundred and seventy (KSH870) or there about USD 11’.
‘Rumors about my plight spread all over the village and even a local vernacular radio station which started broadcasting about my case’. ‘God, tribulations of Intersex People in Kenya know no boundaries’, ‘People could be heard gossiping as if a bad omen had struck the village’. ‘My parents disowned me and consequently instructed me to leave’. ‘I went to stay with my grandmother for a period of about two weeks’.
‘While at my grandmother’s place I received a call from the area Assistant Chief who notified me that there was an organization in Nairobi which was interested in Intersex People in Kenya, they could meet my travel cost to Nairobi for treatment’. ‘I thought to myself that this could be the end of my tribulations’. ‘My father got wind of my intended travel, so he plotted to strangle me to death’. ‘I was given this information by a relative who overheard my father speaking to an identified person. . This he said was to eliminate the element of evil spirits and curses from the entire family. ‘Most Intersex People in Kenya are sentenced to death in early child hood”.
‘I managed to escape and reported this to the chief who facilitated for my safety in order for me to travel the next day’. ‘I successfully traveled to Nairobi and was received by an official of one of the organizations that support LGBTI work. ‘Since then, in very few occasions I have managed to contact my blood sister’. ‘She has accepted me for whom I am.’ ‘but due to unforeseen circumstances I was forced to go back home due to lack of financial support’.
‘On arriving home my father was not receptive’. He retorted …“why have you brought me problems once again?” ‘My mother alternatively complained and mumbled about my return portraying a character suggestive of a prevailing sinister motive’. ‘I took refuge at my grand mother’s home which was at a distance not far a way from home’.
A myriad of frustrations added to the overflowing cupful of stress that Trevor had. Intersex People in Kenya are faced with similar situations. In January this year (2011) he had to make a tough choice of returning back to Nairobi. ‘Once I was in Nairobi I slept in the streets for almost two days’. ‘Hunger and cold did not spare me’. ‘The nocturnal dangers of the city stared at me not withstanding being forced to play hide and seek with law enforcers’. ‘A feeling of nothingness coupled with a series of bewildered eyes and nods spread all over me as if I was a criminal’.’Jesus!! Intersex People in Kenya are really criminalized’
‘On the third last day a Good Samaritan previously known to me miraculously rescued me from the jaws of the unknown. ‘I pleaded for his help’. ‘A sigh of relief engulfed me due to the fact that I was welcomed with an open heart, mind and open hands’. Since then John and his wife have been accommodating me and catering for my needs even with the meager resources at their disposal’.
The biological question of the Intersex People in Kenya
The Intersex People in Kenya have not been accorded any attention in any most publication. Most of us who were lucky to take biology as a subject in school and institutions of higher learning we notice that instructors put emphasis on the most common ‘’XX and XY’’ genotypes. This emphasis only suggests the leaning towards sex chromosomes rather than exploring beyond. The biology of gender is far more complicated than the ‘’ XX or XY chromosomes’’. The intersex condition can be ignorantly and mistakenly allowed to feature in the traditional context where unexplained phenomenon is naturally categorized as evil spirits or witchcraft. Information is yet to be found or discussed in the public domain. This has only subjected the Intersex People in Kenya to stigmatization and rejection.
What you should know about Intersex People in Kenya
- Violence- Trevor feels that due to lack of knowledge; understanding and awareness the Intersex People in Kenya continue to suffer violence from relatives and the society.
- Access to basic commodities and facilities- Intersex people in Kenya are usually denied access to public utilities. In entertainment places ‘ bouncers’ have mistakenly placed them as either Male or Female.
- Identification and immigration- It has been very difficult for Trevor to change from the female identity to the male in which he identifies with. ‘I have tried to change my name without successes ‘I have also been constantly harassed by security enforcers whenever I produce my female identification document’. Intersex People In Kenya find themselves in this predicament, which gets worse if parents refuse to be involved.
- Employment- It is difficult to get employment without a clear gender identification
- The Intersex People in Kenya have been a subject of discrimination and rejection
- Health provision – medics must establish gender before offering treatment. The Intersex People in Kenya, suffer the inability by medics to determine gender, resulting to delayed access to quick treatment.
- Stress- Trevor constantly experienced a lot of stress and thought he had no future.
- Education- This has been one of the challenges that has been facing Intersex People in Kenya. Does an intersex person like Trevor attend a boys or a girls school?
- Sensitization: The community at large is ignorant of the challenges and hurdles the Intersex People in Kenya go through. ‘I wish the government takes seriously the responsibility of sensitizing, especially the medics and human rights activists so that they educate the society about the intersex’.
Read our main story on Best of Kenya – Secrets to Behold
It is also important to note that intersex conditions can be managed in the following ways; Intersex People in Kenya are not exceptional to this management.
- Clinical management, this can be classified in two categories. Treatment and enhancement. Treatments restore functionality (or potential functionality). Enhancements give the ability to identify within ‘’ mainstream’’ people e.g breast enlargement.
- Surgery. As convection surgery is performed at birth. Intersex advocates such as Anne Fausto – Sterling in her publication Sexing in the body ,argue that surgery on inter sexed persons should wait until the child can make an informed decision; and label operation without consent as genital mutilation.
- Until the public and human rights organization take action the, Intersex People in Kenya will continue suffering in silence.