Updated on April 24, 2016
When Your Documents Says Different
A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of the embassies to apply for a visa. I have gone to this embassy several times and my interaction with them has always been smooth. However, this time it was different.
I have changed my name legally. It reflects who I am. On the other hand, my gender marker on my documents hasn’t been changed yet. It still screams “F” on my passport.
As usual arriving at the embassy, I was given my ticket number. I proceeded to fill the forms required and arranged my documents as I waited for my turn to be served. My documents were scrutinized to make sure I have all the necessary documents, then I waited on the queue for the submission process.
After a few minutes, I was called at the counter to submit my documents and give out my details. All was going well until the guy behind the counter opened my passport.
“Sir, I am afraid we can’t accept your passport. It has a mistake”, he said gently while pointing at the gender marker part.
Before I reacted, he turned to his colleague pointing at the same after realizing I have a couple of stamped visas on my passport, ” I can’t believing we have been accepting this passport all this time without noticing this mistake!”
The lady he was talking too seemed less concerned and ignored the comment. I felt she had a clue about me as she has scrutinized my documents every time I applied for a visa there.
The guy turned to me with an inquisitive look like he was trying to ask for some explanation.
“Sir, that’s not a mistake. I am a transgender person”, I told him with rather a stern look.
Without any comment he went ahead and entered my details into the system, then processed my collection receipt.
As I walked away from the counter, I sighed with relief. Then I was met with the title Ms. on my receipt. Immediately I started burning with anger. All my receipts from this embassy has always been titled Mr. till this day. I couldn’t explain the disappointment I felt as I left the building.
At this point, I came to the realization that no matter what I do, I will always have to explain myself and get mis-gendered until I find a way to change my gender marker on my documents.
Kenya is on its way to making such changes. A lot of improvements have occurred in the past decade. Before, trans people could not even change their names legally. Nowadays, we can change our names and get it amended on our passports. For the national ID cards, it’s a different story that we are still working on. I believe in the next decades to come there will be a huge progress. As the saying goes, good things take time. For us trans people, we are resilient and patient. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as we are moving forward. Additionally, no matter how many times we get knocked down, we always get back up with much more strength and determination.