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HC allows man to go for sex change

‘He is a major,can’t be stopped from doing what he wishes. Provide police protection if needed’

Written by Express News Service | Published: May 8, 2012 2:39 am

‘He is a major,can’t be stopped from doing what he wishes. Provide police protection if needed’

In an order that would enable 21-year-old Bidhan Barua to undergo a sex change operation,the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the police to provide him protection if they felt it necessary.

“If he (Barua) is a major,he should not be hindered from doing what he wishes,” Justice S J Vazifdar said.

Barua approached the court after his parents allegedly threatened doctors at Saifee Hospital at Charni Road,telling them not to perform the operation. According to him,the doctors refused to operate upon him until he got an order from the HC.

The court asked Barua to apply to the local police station asking for protection and asked the police to provide him protection if considered necessary. The directions came after both the Central and state governments told the court that they would not come in the way of the sex reassignment procedure Barua wishes to undergo.

The state government,meanwhile,claimed that Barua had written to the Mumbai Police Commissioner on the same issue and that he had not faced any threats since then. The government pleader appearing in the case questioned whether Barua had proceeded to file a petition in court “only for publicity.”

Barua,who hails from Guwahati,had moved court last week seeking its intervention to enable him to get the surgery done. He claims he is a woman trapped inside a man’s body,and that he realised early in life that he was “born in the wrong sex.”

He calls himself Swati and apparently wishes to marry an Indian Air Force flight lieutenant.

On May 2,after the HC declined to hear his petition immediately,he even threatened to commit suicide,in a letter addressed to the High Court Chief Justice,the Chief Justice of India and the National Human Rights Commission. In his letter,he said the High Court Chief Justice would be responsible if he was compelled to take his own life.

However,the court later summoned his lawyer Ejaz Naqvi and asked him “not to put undue pressure on the court.” The judges had asked him to understand the difficulties of the court.

Naqvi told Newsline that Barua will now get himself admitted to the hospital within two days. “Unfortunately,he will not be able to get married on May 10,as earlier planned. But at least now he will be able to go ahead with his plans,” said Naqvi.

Barua,however,was unavailable for comment.

What it is & what it takes

Sex reassignment surgery (SRS),also known as gender reconstruction surgery (GRS),is performed in major city hospitals such as Saifee,Lilavati,Breach Candy,and Kohinoor hospitals. An SRS operation in these hospitals would cost between Rs 3.5 and Rs 8 lakh. While at present,few in urban society come for an SRS, doctors have observed a marginal increase in the number as compared to 20 years ago. Doctors attribute this to increase in stress,disturbed mind and easier access to such surgeries.

An SRS essentially helps reshape and replace the genitals and is categorised as male to female (MTF) surgery or female to male (FTM) surgery.

“MTF surgery is easier to perform and is also more common. The penis and the testes are removed which automatically decreases testosterone levels of the body. Consequently,the patient ceases to show heightened sexual drive as seen in men and also stops showing secondary sexual characters such as growth of beard,moustache and excessive body hair. A ‘neovagina’ made of placental grafts is implanted into the groin ,” said Dr Jatin Wani,surgeon at Kohinoor Hospital.

The surgery is usually followed by facial electrolysis,breast implantation and facial reconstruction. SRS affects the psychological frame,sexual drive and bodily functions. “The person becomes sensitive to touch. The neovagina needs to be maintained properly,failing which the implant is rejected. The person tends to become more susceptible to urinary infections,” Wani said.

Being such a life altering surgery,doctors emphasise on pre-operative counselling.

“The person’s life history needs to be explored in detail. It needs to be checked whether the person has a genuine gender issue or there is some other social or mental reason,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.

Where is the law on sex change in India,asks distraught father

“Is there is a law permitting sex change in our country? And,if at all there is one,then why didn’t the honourable court also bother to find out what we think as parents?” This is what Supti Ranjan Barua,father of Bidhan Barua,the 21-year old Guwahati boy whose sex-change plea was on Monday granted by the Bombay High Court,said

Barua,a railway employee here,also calls it “fate” that his son had sought a sex change. “It is nothing but fate. My son,whom I brought up with so much love and care,has stabbed me in the back. What can I do now?”

Barua’s son Bidhan,who has appeared for the B.Com second year exams from the West Guwahati Commerce College here,had last month approached the Bombay High Court pleading to restrain his parents from preventing a sex change operation.

“My son is caught in some trap. He was a good boy. His sudden behaviour has not only shocked me but has also brought disrepute to our joint family,” Barua told The Indian Express.

He lives in Pandu locality of Guwahati along with his aging parents and families of two brothers. He says,“Just imagine our plight. I have my old parents,my brothers and their families living on the same campus. My wife is ill. Where do we hide our faces? What should I do when my son brings such bad name to our family?”

Barua wonders whether there is any law in India that permits sex change and that too without “bothering about the family.” “I know my son is an adult. He is 21 years old. But that does not mean he can ask for anything and the court will grant that. Don’t we all live in families and are part of society? This is inhuman and disgusting,” he added.

Bidhan,whose elder brother is a post-graduate student at Gauhati University,had run away from home on March 31 and reached Mumbai,where he approached a hospital to undergo a sex- change surgery.

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