The politics of penises: Myths about transgender people

Published: July 28, 2010

On 30 July 2010, a transgender woman (who I shall refer to as Storm) was arrested in Thika District in Kenya’s Central Province. She was arraigned in court for intent to commit crime and remanded thereafter in a female remand facility. It was discovered she didn’t possess ‘female genitalia’ the day after. She was thoroughly whipped by a warden for ‘causing the confusion’.

She was transferred to a police station and placed in isolation. While the senior officer was absent, one of the police officers transferred her to a male cell where she suffered sexual assault on top of being ‘baptised’ with a bucket full of urine. Her food was grabbed by some inmates. When she reported the matter to the senior officer, she was beaten up by the officer. Three weeks later a law court released her on a personal bond.

This case presents one of the many incidences of gender oppression transgender people in Kenya face. Gender oppression against transgender people takes the form of violence, sexual assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, victimisation and psychological torture.

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