NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) A transgender person who has sued the government to be recognized as a woman is fighting a group of Christian lawyers who are opposed to her name change petition.

Mr. Alexander Nthugi and Ms. Audrey Mbugua both living with Gender Identity Disorders stand outside the Kenyan High Court. Ms. Mbugua born as Andrew Mbugua has sued the government to recognized as a woman. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Alexander Nthugi and Audrey Mbugua, both living with gender identity disorders, stand outside the Kenyan High Court. Mbugua, born as Andrew Mbugua, has sued the government to be recognized as a woman. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

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The Kenya Christian Lawyers Fellowship is challenging Audrey Mbugua’s petition, warning it would set a precedent contrary to the Christian view of creation and encourage gay unions.

But the 29-year-old biomedical scientist says her case is not about sexual orientation, but a medical condition.

“I am concerned they will create more confusion with these kind of arguments,” Mbugua said. “This is a respectful and vigorous discussion about a rare condition.”

Mbugua, who said she is an atheist, grew up as Andrew while struggling with her gender.

She went to court in May seeking a name change, identity documents and reissued academic certificates with her new name. The authorities’ failure to comply has led to prejudice and discrimination. She has found it difficult to find work since employers assume she is a man and then find out she is a woman.

But the Christian lawyers’ group has argued that there is no third gender in Kenya’s constitution apart from male and female, and a simple name change cannot alter one’s gender.

“The applicant alleges to have planned corrective medical surgery, yet there is no proof that he was subjected to any,” wrote the group’s lead lawyer, Harrison Kinyanjui, in a submission to the Nairobi law courts.

The group recommends psychological treatment for Audrey’s case.

Categories: Beliefs, Culture

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Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.


  1. Never mind the scientific fact that, except in very rare cases, an individual is male or female regardless of sex reassignment surgery. That there is a problem for the individual involved cannot be doubted. The question is where does the problem originate. Perhaps the answer to this question will be revealed through further brain research. We are identified by our DNA. Sex reassignment does not change that fact.

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