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'Police forced me to go naked to prove I was a woman'

A Kenyan female bus conductor who has a beard has shared how she was stripped naked in a police cell to confirm her gender.

Theresia Mumbi was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance that resulted in her having a beard

Theresia Mumbi told BBC Swahili that traffic police in the capital, Nairobi, arrested her and held her in a cell with other women.

“Two officers came and told me to take off my clothes. They then examined me. I’m not sure what they saw but they told me to return to my cell,” she said.

She says that the July 2018 arrest over identification documents is still fresh in her mind. She presented her documents and was let go.

Ms Mumbi’s experience has made her an advocate for women with unusual features and now she tells her story to create awareness and encourage others to speak out when harassed.

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Ms Mumbi was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance that resulted to her having a beard.

As a young woman she had to shave her beard often until her skin became irritated by the frequent shaving.

“Some years back I had to suspend shaving at some point because my skin was becoming irritable and the stubborn sores were a problem,” she said.

The beard grew and she started hiding from people, opting to shop at night.

Pushed by the hard economic times she became a bus conductor to earn a living.


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While at work she meets women with unique conditions and encourages them.

She is part of an association of bearded women in Kenya and during their meetings she speaks to the younger women.

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