October 7, 2014 / 12:51 PM / 5 years ago

Transgender activist wins landmark case in Kenyan court

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Transgender activist Audrey Mbugua won a landmark case on Tuesday when the High Court ordered the Kenya National Examinations Council to change her name on her academic certificates.

Kenya is a conservative country where transgender people find it virtually impossible to get work because of the discrepancy between the gender on their certificates and the one they present as.

“We won,” Mbugua told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It’s a huge watershed moment.”

The council was also ordered to remove the male gender mark on Mbugua’s certificates, issued in the name of Andrew Mbugua.

In July, Mbugua won another legal victory when the High Court ordered the National NGO Council to register her group, Transgender Education and Advocacy, and pay their legal fees.

The media attention attracted by Mbugua’s litigation has raised the profile of transgender issues in Kenya.

Mbugua has been nominated for the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip Award for her innovative and courageous work.

“One cannot fail to be impressed while watching Audrey Mbugua, arguably Kenya’s most famous transsexual, hop from one interview to the next,” one commentator wrote last year in Africa Review.

“Her fielding of a barrage of questions — most downright distasteful and intrusive — has been nothing short of masterful and confident, a huge feat in a country that is conservative down to its socks, or at least likes to pass itself off as such.”

Mbugua said she intended to continue to use the courts to fight for the rights of transgender people, who are born one gender but feel more comfortable as the other.

Reporting by Katy Migiro; editing by Tim Pearce

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