Transgender in Kenya.
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I'm no tranny

Biologically speaking, Bruce was born a female. He talks about the rough road to finding his true identity as a transgender – and about how much he hates the term ‘tranny’.

Really hated dresses

'At age seven, I sensed that something wasn’t right. I hated the pink dresses and hats my mum used to dress me in. Every day, getting dressed was a fight. I know that this is generally normal with kids when they’re stubborn. But my case was different. I really hated dresses. My mum always told me I was weird and would look at me funny.

'In high school, I was accused of being a lesbian. For some reason, girls used to be drawn to me in an unusual way. Some used to write love letters to me. I hated that stuff. I used to tell them off. I was so angry all the time. I was constantly being told that there was something wrong with me; I had no idea what it was."

'Tomboy' didn’t cover it

'All I knew was it didn’t matter that I was a girl biologically; I didn’t want to dress like one. And I definitely didn’t want to spend time doing house chores when my brothers were playing outside. I also loved to play football and climb trees.

'My father used to dismiss it as me being a tomboy. But I always knew there was more to it than that. I just didn’t know what to call it. After high school, my dress code completely changed. I shaved off all my hair and bought baggy clothes. I hated my boobs. I was a double D-cup and it was all there in my face. I hated having my period. It made me feel dirty. I hated everything about me.'

Needless to say, I got a slap in the face and had parties of women praying and casting out "demons" from me and saying that the "devil had entered me"...

Exorcism

'I remember telling my mum I wanted to be a boy. Needless to say, I got a slap in the face and had parties of women praying and casting out "demons" from me and saying that the "devil had entered me". I ran away from home for about four months after high school. I felt like I was going to burst.

'I remember going to talk to a friend of mine from high school who seemed like the only one who understood me. She told me that I needed to seek help. But when you are in the heart of rural Kenya, where do you go to for help? Time passed: weeks, months, years… I eventually found out some things through searches on the internet.'

Transitioning

'I found out that what I was experiencing was normal and was what transgender people faced. It was true, I felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body. Fast-forward to a few years ago: Audrey Mbugua came out publicly and I finally felt like I belonged. I am now Bruce and proud.

'I have grown to detest the terms people use to refer to transgender people – especially ‘tranny’. I hate the way they use it in movies and TV series. It’s so insensitive. It’s like someone walking up to you and calling you a whore. People need to understand what it is really like to not identify with your biological self, let alone going through the normal process of self-discovery.

'I am now taking male hormones and am undergoing counselling. As I transition to the man I always knew I was, I have also joined the transgender support group in Nairobi. My parents still don’t understand my situation but are trying to. I know it’s not easy for them. But at least we are talking about it.'
 

Have you ever had experiences like Bruce? Share your knowledge. Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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