More people line up at St George’s for sex-reaffirmation surgery
Anagha Sawant Mumbai: At the state-run St George’s Hospital in Mumbai, a former electrician with the Assam government, Rita Devi is looking to reconstruct her life. Motivated by Lalit Salve, a cop from Beed who underwent genital reconstructive surgery in May 2018, the 34-yearold has undergone the first surgery to reaffirm her sex and is now waiting for other test reports to proceed with further surgeries and medical procedures.
Devi is not the only one who is inspired by Lalit Salve. He seems to have inspired many to look for options to undergo sex-change surgeries to align their physical self with their gender identity. Enquiries are pouring into the Out-patients Department (OPD) for gender reaffirming surgeries, opened at St George’s Hospital in September last year, from across the country.
According to Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, a medical superintendent at St George’s Hospital in Fort, the hospital has received 20 to 25 cases so far from people who wish to undergo sex-reaffirming surgeries. “Most of the cases are in process,” he said. “The various tests, counselling and procedures take time.”
Those individuals approaching state-run hospitals in Mumbai for such surgeries are referred to St George’s Hospital under Sir JJ Group of Hospitals. “In government hospitals, the surgeries cost anywhere between Rs 40,000 to one lakh. In private hospitals, similar surgeries cost much more than Rs two lakh,” says Dr Gaikwad.
“On an average, at least one case per week is referred to me from private hospitals and other clients, “said Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla, a psychiatrist at St George’s. “Most of the individuals are between 18 years to 30 years of age. As much as it is a psychological identification with a sex other than the one the person is born and raised in, many times, the anatomical parameters are lean towards another gender.”
Devi chatted with Salve in September last year, after he underwent a series of surgeries. And then travelled all the way from the northeastern state to the financial capital to seek treatment for hormonal imbalance and stomach pain. It was her first step towards becoming a man. According to doctors treating her in the gynaecology ward, her female organs were fully developed but she wanted to live the rest of her life as a man.
In the last week of May, she underwent a mastectomy. “She has to rest for a month after discharge and a few other diagnostic tests have to be run,” says Dr Gaikwad. “Once the reports are approved for the further process, the doctors will decide on the future course of action,” adds Prasanjeet Paul, a social activist, who is helping Devi.