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Much of the world may have come around to the idea that there exists a whole spectrum of sexualities – from heterosexual to homosexual and beyond. In Africa, a continent whose societies, on the whole, are still very traditional, such ideas are only starting to be raised as a new generation begins to free itself of traditional constraints.

Morine is one of Nairobi’s few transgenders, belonging to a small and exclusive group that didn’t exist until recently. As a transgender, Morine has made the conscious choice not only to accept her sexuality, but to accept it openly in a society where such a choice remains illegal. The result is a woman who has had to develop very thick skin, but who is very comfortable in her own body.

Still living in the same community where she grew up, Morine now owns and works in her own hair salon. Through this she has not only gained respect among her peers, but has created a much better life for herself and has been able to move into her own apartment, across the road from the slum in which she grew up.

 
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With the television on and various hair products hanging on the wall, Morine gets down to business in the hair dressing salon she runs in the South B part of Nairobi.

Born into a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, Morine worked hard to improve her situation in life and was eventually able to start up her own hair salon. Although Morine still lives close to the slum in which she was born, she now lives in a proper house across the street from her original home.

 
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Morine applies hair removal cream to her face as part of her morning routine before getting ready to head to work.

Keeping up appearances is a constant battle for Morine and just one of the ways in which she has to do this is by using hair removal cream, which she applies regularly to keep her skin smooth.

 
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Lip gloss and other make up is also carefully applied in front of a mirror, in order to complete the physical transformation into a feminine woman.

Lip gloss, eye liner, and various other make up is applied to complete Morine’s transformation each morning into the woman she wishes to appear as.

 
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Morine’s young nephew stares up at her as she applies eye shadow while taking care of him for a few hours while his mother is away.

Despite being born a male, Morine’s maternal instinct is a clear and one which comes out everytime she is around children.

 
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Morine holds her Kenyan ID card in her hand with her original name at birth still used to identify her.

While Morine identifies herself as a female, transgenders are not yet recognized by the Kenyan government and therefore it will likely be some time before Morine is able to be legally recognized as a transgender.

 
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Morine’s two sides, the male one she was born with and the female one that she now identifies with, are reflected in a mirror.

While Morine identifies with being female, she must constantly battle with the male physical side of her, which despite her efforts to hide it, does occasionally make an appearance.

 
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Morine’s hair salon bustles with activity as woman from all over the neighborhood come in to have their hair and nails done, as well as to catch up on the week’s gossip.

Although scorned by some in the community, in her hair salon Morine is able to fit in as just another one of the girls.

 
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Morine, standing outside of her hair salon, takes a short break before starting on another hair cut.

Morine’s male side, reflected in her profile.

 
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A client catches up with Morine while having her hair curled during a regular morning in the hair salon.

With a growing reputation in Nairobi, for her hairdressing skills, women from all over the city now come to Morine’s salon to have their hair done.

 
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Morine talks to an old friend, who has known her since she was young, in the slum near her house where she was born.

Still close to much of the community in which she grew up, many in the slum know Morine from when she was a young child growing up.

 
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Checking her makeup in a mirror, Morine takes one last look before leaving for work.

Like many woman her age, Morine takes great pleasure in makeup and clothing, with both littering her room.

 
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While chatting to friend of hers, not everyone has come to grips yet with Morine’s new identity in the slum where she grew up.

Still a very conservative country, with homosexuality still illegal and issues like transgender rights hardly even on the radar, it may take some time before everyone comes to accept Morine’s choice to be a woman. Having said that though, it seems that few of those that she does know really have much of a problem with the choice that she has made