Monday morning – 30th August, 2021 – many people woke up to the sad news that Erica Chandra Kitula was no more. Her body was found in a ditch along General Mathenge Drive in Westlands. Many in the LGBTIQ+ community in Kenya suspect that she was murdered and her body dumped in the ditch in what might have been a transphobic attack, and are already calling for action to be taken to find the perpetrators and bring them to book.
Jinsiangu – an organization that advocates for the rights of Intersex, Transgender and Gender Non-conforming (ITGNC) persons in Kenya, and where Erica was a member – today released a statement via their Facebook account addressing her unfortunate demise. According to the statement, an autopsy that was conducted revealed that Erica died of complications of the chest and heart. However, considering the circumstances in which she was found, further investigations are being conducted. The full statement reads as follows:
“The Jinsiangu team and the Intersex, Transgender and Gender Diverse (G.N.C) community are deeply saddened by the news of the death of our very own, Erica, a member of Jinsiangu. Law enforcement confirmed Erica’s death at the scene in the early morning of 30th August,2021.
Her body was found along General Mathenge road in westlands. According to the autopsy report conducted on 31st August, 2021, as shared by Erica’s family with Jinsiangu, Erica had complications with her heart and chest. However, considering the circumstances surrounding how she was found, further investigations are being conducted, we cannot speculate.
Jinsiangu continues to work directly with the family of Erica during this difficult time. We send our heartfelt condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of the late Erica. Erica shall be fondly remembered as a family member, a member of Jinsiangu who was passionate about advocacy and the visibility of I.T.GNC persons’ and their lived realities, and as a peer educator.
Intersex persons, Transgender persons and Gender Non-Conforming persons in Kenya continue to face blatant human rights violations entrenched in a number of discriminative laws and policies. In addition to these laws, structural challenges rooted in transphobic belief systems continue to provide an inhumane and unsafe environment and society for I.T.GNC persons in Kenya to exist, and have continued to be disproportionately affected by laws and systems as well as discriminative laws that do not provide space for gender affirming care and treatment as well as access to registration, identification documents and protection from violence by law enforcement to mention a few.
Between 2020 and July 2021, as of documented reports, 83 transgender women , 35 transgender men and 27 Intersex and gender non-conforming persons have been subjected to physical and sexual violence. The constitution of Kenya demands that all Kenyans be protected from violence and have fair and equal access to justice.
We urge all I.T.GNC persons to stay vigilant and be very mindful of their personal security & health status. Let us all stay aware and cautious of the situation on the ground with COVID-19, and as we also approach election year which has been identified as a rife period of violence towards I.T.GNC persons. Let us be each other’s keeper.
Finally, Jinsiangu continues to work on creating awareness, visibility and respect for ITGNC people in Kenya through provision of information, undertaking advocacy and high visibility activities.
We have also been working to enable gender minorities (I.T.GNC) to overcome challenges through the provision of psycho-social/mental-health support, holistic empowerment opportunities, security response & documentation while facilitating access, to, for example, health care. We strive to develop spaces and platforms while advocating for inclusive rights within Kenya in which all citizens are free to determine, express and freely thrive in their own gender. To access information on how to report violence to Jinsiangu and access information, kindly follow the links herein.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To access our violence response team, contact us on +0800 720 955 for free or visit our website http://www.jinsiangu.org for information on the same.“
To contribute towards her burial expenses, kindly send your contributions via MPESA; PAYBILL – 891300, ACCOUNT – 49549.
About the Writer:
Audi is a queer, nonbinary, Kenyan writer, graphic designer and LGBTIQ+ activist. They write on sexuality, gender, feminisms, social justice and pop culture.