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VAS

ELECTION 2022

The tales of the intersex persons

WESTERN
By Brian Kisanji | Dec 21st 2021 | 5 min read

Wilson Muringi is an intersex person from Vihiga. S/he was speaking during the celebration of Intersex persons day on October 26, 2021.

Wilson Muringi was born Millicent Kasoya.

Change of names was not because s/he didn't love it but because s/he identified as intersex.

S/he was born in Vihiga county in a family of eleven and s/he has a twin sister.

All her/his siblings are normal and it's only her/him who is an intersex

Muringi, now 32, grew up identified as a girl by society.

S/he was admitted to a girl's primary boarding school after the environment at home and the village turned hostile.

Even with the discrimination s/he faced, Muringi passed her/his examination, and in 2006 s/he joined Goibei Girl's High school in Vihiga.

Muringi’s sexuality was not a matter to other students as s/he kept it secrete until when adolescents kicked in.

"I joined high school and all was well as I had not reached the adolescent stage and my appearance was just of a normal girl. I was forced to bathe late in the night as I was afraid my genitals will be seen by my fellow students," said Muringi.

Her/his secret came out when she decided to join the football team.

Her/his prowess in the game made everyone start doubting if s/he was really a girl.

"I had to confide in one of my teammates. I thought she would help but she ran to our fellow classmates and told them about my sexuality. Finally, my teachers were told about it," said Muringi.

At that instance, Muringi was marked as a threat to other girls and teachers asked her fellow students to avoid her/him completely.

Her/his face had changed, s/he tried to keep her/his chin clean-shaven, to avoid unnecessary attention.

An intersex person is one who was born with sex characteristics that include genitals, gonads, and chromosomal patterns that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.

In Muringi's case, talking to her/him the voice would lead one to conclude s/he is female. S/he has hips and a small waist.

After the high school found out s/he was intersex teachers asked her/him to sleep alone in a cube that was far from the girls.

Once a teacher while teaching a religious lesson told her/his classmates that intersex was a curse.

"Things grew difficult for me ever since, I was profiled, laughed at, and mocked by both teacher and students," said Muringi. "I felt the stigma."

One day in 2008, while in form three, the school administration called Muringi's mother and told her that s/he would not be allowed to stay at the school.

On that specific day, s/he was in class when a prefect came calling.

"I was told that I was no longer wanted at the school and they were specific that it was because I was a boy in a girl's school," said Muringi.

Muringi sobbed as s/he parked her belongings and took a long walk with her mother amid hundreds of students watching from the windows.

"It was heartbreaking, I remember I cried as I walked with my bag to the gate, the people I had lived with for three years had turned enemies in a very short time all because I was different in terms of sexuality," said Muringi.

That would mark the end of education for Muringi who wanted to be a lawyer after completion of her/his studies.

Two years after being kicked out of school s/he changed her/his name, because the facial looks showed s/he was a man and people would mock her/him when he told them her/his name was Millicent.

"I ended up taking the name Wilson Muringi, by the blessing of my mother who has always been supportive my siblings started calling me by my new name," said Muringi.

Muringi said the first person to accept s/he was intersex was the mother, Philis Nasimiyu, who even when she was faced with the dilemma of whether her baby was a male or female she kept loving her/him.

"Honestly people ask me if I have both organs, this initially used to bother me, but I have now accepted who I am because I have no control over nature," said Muringi.

Muringi jokes that s/he has a girlfriend and boyfriend stating s/he has the same feelings the normal person has and wants to get married and start a family.

The reality among many intersex people is getting employment, as people look at them as frauds because their names don’t match their appearances.

"I once wanted to go to Saudi Arabia for a job but at the airport, there was a problem with my name on my certificates and my appearances, my name suggested I am a girl yet in all appearance, I am a boy," said Muringi.

Jane Anyoso, 32, is an intersex person too from  Emuhaya in Vihiga. S/he has lived with the stigma and had to leave school after the pressure and mockery became too much for her/him to handle.

Anyoso grew up as a boy but towards puberty, her/his female organs became dominant.

“In Kenya living as an intersex person is a big challenge because you face stigma in the community since many people don’t understand who we are,” said Anyoso.

S/he has visible breasts and has both male and female genitalia, though s/he feels much like a female.

She was even once married but the husband left her after people started mocking him for marrying a man.

In Kenya, parents often rush to have surgery performed on their children at a young age to avoid ridicule but both Muringi and Anyoso advise against the same.

Muringi and Anyoso were among intersex persons who marked this year's day to commemorate their 'third gender' on Tuesday in Vihiga County.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) had organized the event where 30 intersex people from Vihiga attended.

Those who attended the function appealed to the government to help them by recognizing intersex as a third gender.

Western Region deputy KNCHR Coordinator Beryl Orao said they want Kenyans to stop discrimination against intersex persons.

“We need to educate members of the public and even the government about intersex people and how to uphold their rights,” said Orao.

She noted the two incidents of Muringi and Anyoso who are among thousands of intersex children who suffer when in school.

The human rights body is pushing for the implementation of a report that recommends amendment of the Registration of Persons Act, Chapter 107 to include intersex in the definition of sex.

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