World

Kenyan Court Defends Trans Rights In New Ruling

"These are the orders that will make the applicant ... complete as a human being."

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A Kenyan judge ordered education authorities on Tuesday to issue a new certificate to a trans woman under her female name, the second ruling in favor of trans rights from Kenyan courts this year.

The ruling came in a suit brought by Audrey Mbugua Ithibu, who was seeking to have her legal name, Andrew, replaced on documents issued by the Kenya National Examination Council certifying she had passed educational exams. It does not change the name that appears on her official identity documents, however.

Kenya's The Star reported that, in issuing the ruling, High Court Judge Weldon Korir said, "These are the orders that will make the applicant (Ithibu) complete as a human being."

Korir also ordered that the new educational certificate be issued without any gender indication.

"The court takes judicial notice of the fact that examinations in this country are not administered based on the gender of the candidate. Marks are also not awarded based on gender. Removal of the gender mark will therefore not dilute the quality of the certificate," Korir reportedly said.

The ruling follows Ithibu's successful lawsuit seeking to register the organization she leads, Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA). The Non-Governmental Organizations Co-ordination Board, which grants NGOs the registration necessary to operate legally in the country, had denied TEA's registration because Ithibu and other members of the board use names that don't match their official identity cards.

High Court Judge G V Odunga ruled in July that this decision was "clearly unconstitutional" and to "discriminate [against] persons and deny them freedom of association on the basis of gender or sex."

Emboldened by this victory and the defeat of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Constitutional Court of neighboring Uganda in August, the head of Kenya's National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Eric Gitari, announced plans to file a direct challenge to Kenya's law criminalizing homosexuality.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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