A request from a woman police constable, seeking permission to undergo a sex change surgery, has left the Maharashtra Police in a quandary. The 29-year-old constable, attached to the Beed district police, had written to senior police officials for permission to undergo a sex change operation in September. It was only after the news of her application was carried in a section of the media that the Maharashtra Police communicated their decision to the Superintendent of Police, Beed.
“While I won’t be divulging our decision, at this point, I can only confirm that we have communicated our decision to the SP and the same would be told to the applicant,” Additional Director General of Police, (Establishments) Rajendra Singh told The Indian Express. However, the said communication had not reached the SP’s office at the time of going to the press.
Meanwhile, SP Sreedhar Govindrajan had an informal meeting with the applicant on Friday. Govindrajan reportedly told the applicant that the constable could proceed on the requested one-month medical leave, but after a gender change operation, if medical tests confirm the constable is “no longer female”, the department might serve her notice.
A police official said since she was selected to the force under the quota for women, she might have to pass the qualification criteria for men to be retained in the post. “There are two types of reservations — horizontal and vertical. While vertical reservations are based on caste and religion, horizontal include 33.33 per cent quota for women. The constable was selected under the horizontal reservation. Post the sex change, that reservation ceases and therefore the constable would have to again pass the qualification criteria,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
“This is the first such case and maybe the government has to take a decision and lay down the rules,” added the official.
Advocate Ejaz Naqvi, representing the applicant, said, in 2008, the constable had started experiencing hormonal changes. She underwent “treatment” at a hospital in Beed.
In 2011, she realised she was gay. She took her family into confidence. After years of contemplation, in 2016, she decided to visit JJ Hospital for advice on an operation. Subsequently, she wrote to seniors for permission.
“The family stands by her decision to undergo the surgery. We want the government and the police to have a more humane approach and not only grant her leave but also allow her to retain the job post surgery,” Naqvi said.
“The applicant’s parents are farmers. She is the only earning member of the family and has three siblings. If she loses her job, it would not only push her into depression but also affect those dependent on her,” Naqvi added.
In her application, the constable wrote, “On diagnosis and medical consultation, it has been advised by doctors that hormonal imbalances can’t be cured in the present circumstances. Society has not been able to give the required respect/care to females in centuries.
It is quite visible that transgenders/ bisexuals are treated like cattle. They are not given a respectful position by the government or society. The government has no proper scheme/ plan for adjusting the community of such bisexuals/ transgenders in society.” It also stated that after the surgery, the constable should be treated as a ‘male’ and all entries in official records should be maintained/ edited accordingly within two weeks. Sex change operations are costlier for women as compared to men due to penile reconstruction surgery.
According to Dr Preeti Lewis, a gynecologist with JJ Hospital, the procedure takes over a year and multiple surgeries. “The cost can range in lakhs. It is an expensive procedure. A woman requiring sex change will require specialists like a gynecologist, endocrinologist, plastic surgeons, surgeons, and psychiatrist,” said Lewis.