The people you see in this issue illustrate trans life in their corner of the world, and help show us the true meaning of beauty, international or otherwise. Our two part interviews cover both the cultural heritage and personal beliefs of these brave individuals, and inspire greater understanding of transgender experiences around the world.
Audrey Mbugua, Kenya
Part one of this interview can be found in Transformation 96: The International Issue
What do you like to do in your free time? Doing anything with my computer. Also, gardening and reading.
Transition is physical, emotional, and social, all of which present different types of challenges. Tell us about your experience of them if you could. It was tough but nothing worth having comes easy. Surprisingly, the challenges and attacks made me more determined in finding lasting solutions for the REAL challenges of transgender people. Maybe at one time I was bitter and a bit mean, but it is a journey and one has to make sense of everything in a way that will make one want to wake up next morning even when it’s clear you are at a disadvantage.
What are you the most proud of so far in your life? What are you working towards now? Winning in the court of law and court of public opinion in landmark cases involving transgender people in Kenya involving discrimination and violence.
Describe the 2-3 events that most shaped your life. Forming the Transgender Education and Advocacy, wins in court on the right to register my organization and to change names and my gender mark on my high school certificate.
When I was attacked by some gay activists for advocating for the right of transgender people to voice and represent themselves and their issues. I broke the myth that transgender people were meant to be sheep or flower girls for the homosexual community. I easily weathered the storm and made me realize how tough I was. From that day I embraced my second name -Mbugua – which means a person of steel.
What are some hot topics in your area? Silly tribal politics. I hate it when grown up men and women defend politicians from their tribe using arguments that are illogical and you want to call them animals but you feel like you will be offending the beasts in the jungle.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Best gift? None. I guide myself. All the people who try to advice me are wrong.
What gets you riled up enough to lose your temper? Confusing transgender people with homosexuals. I am not homophobic but I normally read malice when people gaynize transgender people. I believe the intention is to use transgender people for homosexual acts and make them targets of homophobic attacks.
You would never catch me wearing _____ Fear. I am a transgender woman of steel.
What do you most admire? Courage, confidence and intelligence.
Are there any memorable characters who had an impact on your life? My father
Fitness is very important to you. What are some of your top tips? Running on a Saturday morning. It increases my endurance.
Can you tell me about your family? Parents, siblings, extended? How did they influence who you are? I have a father and a mother. Two older brothers and two younger sisters. They are courageous and I love them.
What has acceptance come to mean to you? It feels nice but I know there are relatives who are ashamed of me. But, they are all entitled to their opinion.