More peo­ple line up at St Ge­orge’s for sex-reaf­fir­ma­tion surgery

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - [email protected]­

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.

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