A woman who changed her gender has sued the Kenya National Examination Council for a new examination certificates reflecting her new gender.
In a landmark case filed at the Milimani court, Audrey Mbugua Ithibu who was born [redacted] says the fact that her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education bears a different gender and name, she has been unable to get a job which was a violation of her rights.
Audrey wrote her KCSE exams as a man and was issued with her certificate in 2001. She was thereafter diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
Gender identity disorder is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria (discontent with the sex they were assigned at birth and/or the gender roles associated with that sex). It describes the symptoms related to transsexualism, as well as less extreme manifestations of gender dysphoria.
Individuals with GID are commonly referred to as “transgender”. According to Wikipedia, the prevalence of GID is estimated to be approximately 1 in 30,000, though some researchers suggest that the prevalence is actually significantly higher than this.
Audrey was treated at Mathare hospital and changed her name from [redacted] to Audrey to match her gender identity. She then embarked on the process of changing the particulars on her national Identity card, passport and education certificates so as to reflect the changed status.
On December 1, 2010 she wrote to Kenya National Examination Council inquiring about change of names and gender on certificates for persons diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
In its response ten days later, the council said it only considered changing gender on certificate of individuals who have sufficient reason and evidence to prove that their case is genuine.
It also said that for individuals who are undergoing or have undergone a sex change, the council can consider changing the certificates only if the affected individuals present recent medical reports from qualified medical practitioners as evidence of sex change.
Two months later she once again wrote to KNEC and inquired about the process of change of name on certificates of individuals diagnosed with gender identity disorder but who had yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
The response from the KNEC was different and detailed. The council said it had yet to develop a policy to provide for change of name for persons who have undergone gender changes so as to make adequate arrangements for certificate of individuals who have submitted prerequisite evidence.
The council also said it requires the individual to provide a doctor’s report, birth certificates, affidavit, any certification from the council, registered deed poll, a gazetted copy of the old and new ID card.
She said she provided all the information and documentation required by the council and had high expectations that it would carry out the changes she requested.
However, when she pursued the matter with the council on August 3 last years, she was told it was impossible for the change she requested to be effected on her certificate after the exam results had been released.
She didn’t give up and on February 28, 2013 she wrote to the council renewing her request to have the name and gender on her certificate changed. This time round, the council promised to respond to her request within two weeks.
Audrey re-submitted her documents as required to facilitate the council in acting on her request. To date, she has received no response and neither has the council re-issued her with the amended KCSE certificate.
In her suit, Audrey accuses the council of refusing to effect the change despite giving her hope that it will do same. She says the council’s refusal was tantamount to failing its statutory duty and was unfair and unjustified.
The council’s refusal had also caused her to suffer distress and depression due to the daily stigma of being unable to secure employment. Her matter will come up for directions on May 28.