Sidney and Friends Kenya’s Hidden Trans Community

Sidney and Friends

Sidney and Friends

Coming to film festivals in 2018, “Sidney and Friends” a documentary delving into Kenya’s transgender community as never seen before.
They live in the shadows disowned by family and disconnected from community, in a constant struggle for survival yet are amazing in their love of life.

Meet Maria. Her smile, beauty and glittering personality hide her life’s scars. #transisbeautiful #lgbtq

A post shared by Sidney & Friends (@sidneykenyafilm) on

The making of Sidney and Friends fortuitous, to say the least. Filmmaker Tristan MG Aitchison, from the northern highlands of Scotland, felt compelled to travel to Kenya where he said that knew he’d find a story, but had no idea what it was. This is where he found the first of many of Sidney’s friends in Kenya, arguably one of the most transphobic places on earth.

“I didn’t set out to make this film when I traveled to Kenya in 2013, but by chance, I met someone… Guillit, a transboy who wanted to be heard…” said Aitchison “I was welcomed into the small community where other filmmakers and journalists had been refused access…”

“Some interviews were incredibly difficult. Our contributors have suffered traumatic life events and there were a number of times I had chills at what I was being told. Sidney recalls one occasion he was being beaten by a group with clubs and sticks while his mother just stood and watched.

“He also told me about an incident where he was beaten, stripped, and left for dead in the street by a gang. A kind doctor paid for a motorcycle taxi to take him home. When the driver dropped him off, Sidney’s father turned to the driver and said, ‘If she(sic) is not dead, take her(sic) away, because I have already started digging her(sic) grave.’”

His family say he is possessed by demons, demons that make him want to become a man. When Sidney fled from his family’s prejudice, he was forced from slum to slum, stripped in public and beaten. His life changed when he eventually met a group of transgender friends. For the first time in his life, Sidney was no longer alone…

Feature documentary Sidney & Friends is a heartfelt exploration of the hopes, dreams, and everyday reality of Kenya’s intersex and transgender community. Join Sidney and his new friends as they share what it is like to grow up and live as a gender minority, in a region known for prejudice and discrimination against its LGBTI population. Filmed over 3 years, our friends reveal the secrets of their struggles with poignancy and sometimes also humour. The premise is simple; it’s about gender, friendship…and love.

As a social media maven, I can attest that there’s very little interactions from African transgender people and the rest of the world. This is mostly due to the horrific conditions that they are forced into. That is why this the Sidney and Friends is so important.

Sidney and Friends Website and on twitter @SidneyKenyaFilm

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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