In Summary
  • A mixture of shame, taboo, and a lack of awareness has meant that many of Kenya's intersex people have found out about their condition only after they pass puberty.
  • In mannerism, Ryan was taught to behave like a girl. In character, however he always felt he was male.
  • When he hit puberty, Ryan’s voice broke, his chest remained flat while his hips remained straight.
  • He then joined a girls’ secondary school where he had to wake up at 3 am to shower before the other girls woke up.

Born Ruth Mwihaki 28 years ago in Kiambu County, Ryan Muiruri has had to fight off stigma, abuse and suicide to prove that he is indeed male.

When his mother delivered him, she noticed that her first born child had ambiguous genitalia displaying both male and female organs. His father of the child immediately took off, claiming that it was a

sign of bad omen. Unsure of how the rest of the community would react, Ryan’s mother decided to raise her child as a girl and never to speak of the condition ever again.

“I hate the day I was born. I don’t know the exact date of my birthday because to me, that is the day my woes in this world started,” Ryan says.

DIFFERENT

The first time Ryan came to the realisation that he was different, he was five. While playing with his friends, some who were a bit older started taunting him telling him that he was different. They stripped him naked and laughed  while pointing at his penis.

“My aunties had also started talking in hushed tones, pointing at me suspiciously. When the children stripped me, it was a confirmation that I was not like other people. I was embarrassed and became withdrawn”.

A mixture of shame, taboo, and a lack of awareness has meant that many of Kenya's intersex people have found out about their condition only after they pass puberty.

In mannerism, Ryan was taught to behave like a girl. In character, however he always felt he was male. When he hit puberty, Ryan’s voice broke, his chest remained flat while his hips remained straight.

He then joined a girls’ secondary school where he had to wake up at 3 am to shower before the other girls woke up.

“That was a whole new experience altogether, you know at puberty that’s when your body starts to react to the opposite sex, so I found that I was getting attracted to some of the girls. The girls also had noticed that I was different and would write me love letters. I was accused of encouraging lesbianism and subsequently suspended” he recounts.

CHANGED SCHOOLS

He moved to a local day secondary school. At the day school he would be reunited with most of his childhood friends with whom he attended primary school with.

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