I Speak For the Intersex


Now I understand very well

What it means to be born different

Normal yet very different

Yet the difference may not be apparent

When I was born a lot happened

The community thought we were cursed

My own father abandoned me

Left my mother thinking she was cursed

I was brought up by a single mother

Single-handedly, dad didn’t bother

With my condition she always looked stronger

Though the depression was evident ever

I grew up as Mary Waithera

Went to Kambala Girls Secondary School

It was very difficult to get a friend

Was at times mistaken for a lesbian

I received love letters from other girls

They nick-named me ‘Mary boy”

During an inspection the letters were found

And I had to go home on suspension

The reason was my condition

Puberty worsened my situation

Mary Waithera had a deepening voice

Sending even the teachers to confusion

In the village life was hard

I couldn’t even be sent to the shop

Everyone wanted to confirm

How it looked to be intersex

Anyone can be born intersex

No one chooses to be born intersex

It is a biological condition

Being born with ambiguous genitalia

My mother later collapsed mentally

She couldn’t stand the depression

The rejection by the community

To date she is in Mathare for medication

Integration into the community was difficult

The transition to a man awed many

Who expected me to grow into a lady

I thought of changing my name

All my documents read Mary Waithera

I could not get a birth certificate

All my school certificates couldn’t be changed

Just because I am intersex

All government forms have provisions

For people to fill either male or female

No one recognizes the 3rd gender

The community that is both of these

After self realization

I sought the help of my grandmother

Who helped me change my name

To James Karanja the man I am

With the help of Gamafrica foundation

And using my baptismal card

I started the process of identification

And at 26 I now have a waiting card

I had once contemplated suicide

But I accepted my condition

I remain strong even for mother

Whom I regularly visit at Mathare

Our community is not recognized

It is difficult to get jobs

Even enrolling in universities

Because we lack an identity

With a B- in the year 2010

I was qualified for direct entry

But my certificates and I are a mismatch

Always been accused of impersonation

Changes need be made in the constitution

To recognize all intersex persons

I hope lawmakers will pass the petition

So we may enjoy our rights too

After extensive medical examination

With the help of Gamafrica foundation

Doctors have made the confirmation

That will help end the confusion

My name is James Karanja

I speak for the intersex

The many children who’ve been neglected

The entire community that is forgotten

We are human, normal just different

Stop the segregation

End the stigmatization

Intersex is not a curse

Intersex is not a disability



Get James Karanja’s story here:

News Reporter
My name is Emmanuel Yegon. Trained Communicator, Passionate storyteller with a bias toward smartphone storytelling. I am the Co-Founder and Communications Director at Mobile Journalism Africa. This platform is dedicated for human interest stories and features. Ask me about #MoJo