New survey of sexual and gender minorities in Western Kenya

For immediate release
January 31, 2019

Media contact
Rachel Dowd
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Some of the first published findings on the demographics and experiences of lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender people assigned female at birth in sub-Saharan Africa

 

A new survey from Western Kenya finds economic empowerment, LGBT acceptance campaigns and safety from violence among the greatest needs for the country’s sexual and gender minorities assigned female at birth, according to new research by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law with collaborating partners.

 

Researchers surveyed 273 sexual and gender minorities assigned female sex at birth to document their demographic characteristics and better understand their experiences and needs. Most respondents (73%) identified as lesbian and most used labels to describe their gender expression in terms of masculine, feminine or androgynous.

 

With regard to experiences, researchers found

  • 48% had a post-secondary education
  • 34% reported being unemployed
  • 28% reported facing violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression
  • 39% felt the need for legal interventions, such as LGBT educational initiatives and anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual and gender minorities

“More than one-third of respondents in our survey had experienced unemployment, which is double the national average for adult women in Kenya, despite similar educational attainment,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, the Rabbi Barbara Zacky Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute. “And nearly one-third had experienced violence, which indicates a critical need for more research, policies and services to address this issue.”

The report, “Sexual and Gender Minorities in Western Kenya: Health and Rights Concerns of People Assigned Female at Birth” is co-authored by Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., Rabbi Barbara Zacky Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute, Soon Kyu Choi, Program Manager at the Williams Institute, Laima Augustaitis, Research Assistant at the University of Michigan School of Public Health,

Laura Jadwin-Cakmak, Research Director at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Leah C. Neubauer, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and Gary H. Harper, Ph.D., Professor of Global Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The report was a collaboration between the authors and the LBQ-TGNC community in Western Kenya.

 

Read the report.

 

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The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

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