Lalita Salve, 29, is currently posted at the Majalgaon city police station in Beed district. She had written to the top bosses for a month’s leave to undergo the surgery and be referred to as a male constable post the procedure. There are technical and legal issues, but those got resolved, and Salve would have her wish fulfilled. According to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, what posed a difficulty for the police administration was that Salve had been recruited in the female quota, physical parameters for which are different from those employed while recruiting the men. The eligibility criteria while recruiting women, such as height and weight, are different. Anyways now she will be retained as a male employee after the operation. This was really an extraordinary decision taken by Fadnavis and I am impressed personally. Finally, with the intervention of Maharashtra CM, she can now undergo a sex reassignment surgery. Fadnavis had asked the Director General of Police to make an exception in her case and retain her in service as a male constable after the procedure. Fadnavis had decided to make an allowance because it was among “the rarest of rare” cases. It needs courage to come up disclosing such things about one. In police department there are many cases like Salve but none had guts to come forward. There are many gay constables, who are even sexually abused, but the department they serve never allowed them to come forward and accept the reality.
Leaving this particulate case aside, these days there are lots of unrest among people with their gender. There has been a surge in patients wanting to reverse their transgender surgery. Mumbai cosmetic surgeons are witnessing a growing demand for a radical social experiment: sex-change operations. According to them, requests from patients looking to change their gender have gone up from a few cases a year, to three to four cases, per month. Unlike in the past, when girls who wished to become boys often stopped short of an actual surgery, desire for a more thorough transformation among patients are growing. FTM, or female-to-male (transgender), incidentally, is a category that has been growing in visibility all over the world in the recent years. However, to say that societal taboos are finally melting away is simplistic.
The argument underestimates the role played by Indian parents in deciding the future of their children, be it choosing the right course, marrying the right life-partner or confirming to the right sexual orientation, irrespective of how such interferences can often prove detrimental to their kids. This is the reason why many who queue up for sex-change operations at these hospitals also have horror stories to narrate from the home front, with a few even attempting suicide.
These days there is a growing prominence and acceptance for the transgender community in India more than ever before. Even a trans/homophobic state like Kerala now gives government jobs to transgender people. There are many government sectors to courts, the transgender candidates are appointed on highest posts. This is where the new trend assumes significance. Youngsters today have readily available resources at their disposal that can influence their decision on what they want to do with their bodies. Internet and YouTube have thousands of videos that chronicle gender transition. They are independent and stubborn enough to stand on their grounds. These particular people have their communities to support them, but in many cases even parents are accepting their children’s sexuality. There are many clinics across India that are openly hostile to LGBT groups, became an unlikely haven for transgender patients.
Medical studies have warned the majority of people exploring reversals did not receive sufficient psychiatric screening before undergoing the procedure.
Sex change is way too complicated and expensive and after this surgery, the procedure is irreversible. Patients who come for sex change live cross-dressed and live like a man or a woman, depending on the sex to which they want to transition into for months, before undergoing surgery. By cross-dressing they feel they have changed but still, they remain with the scope of restoring back to normality. The final surgery is often preceded by months of testosterone injections. So, people who undergo the operation are well aware of the risks they take. Their desire to go under the knife stems from the conviction that their biological sex and gender identity are two separate things, something that may appear unpredictable or hard to imagine for most people.
Again, the reality is that many people in this world find it hard or scarce to describe themselves as just a man or a woman. By going under the knife they seek to challenge pre-formed ideas of what it means to have two XX chromosomes or XY chromosomes. Their aspirations have already found a resonance in the corporate sector, where gender inclusivity is now the default norm. Most of the requests for sex change come from well-heeled professionals such as engineers and doctors belonging to middle and upper-middle class backgrounds, many of which have been victims of bullying and trans-phobia during their school and college days. And what they choose to do with their bodies is more of a youthful assertion of independence and individuality than any meltdown of societal taboos.
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