Mumbai, a haven for people seeking sex reassignment surgery

Two months ago, My Medical Mantra was the first to report about the sex reassignment surgery (SRS) of Sukanyeah Krishna, who zeroed in on Mumbai for the procedure. Doctors say there has been a steady rise in number of such surgeries in the city

Mumbai, a haven for people seeking sex reassessment surgery

For decades now, people aspiring cosmetic procedures have been flocking to Mumbai. It’s no surprise that in the past few years, the city has become one of India’s key centres for sex reassignment surgery (SRS). Mumbai’s Dr Parag Telang, who specialises in this surgery, alone has performed 35 sex change operations in the past two-and-half years.

Dr Telang shot into limelight in 2016 for performing successful SRS on a woman from Bangalore. He said several people have become more open about seeking sex reassignment surgery, a procedure they believe helps gives them their true identity.

“The number of people coming out openly and seeking SRS is increasing. However, we must remember that is still a long way to go for them to be accepted in the society. Apart from SRS, people also go for facial feminisation or voice modulation procedures as well,” said Dr Telang who is a Consultant, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at S. L Raheja Hospital – A Fortis Associate.

Mumbai-based clinical psychologist said Aarti Shroff said a gradual change in the attitude could be attributed to the rise in the number of SRS. “This surgery is no longer a taboo. I have seen many cases where individuals seeking gender reassignment receive unconditional support from their families. Even employers have become more accepting towards hiring individuals who have undergone SRS,” she said.

“Many hospitals in the country have started gender reassignment clinics and endocrinology specialist centres. Mumbai and Delhi are the hubs,” Shroff added.

Two months ago, My Medical Mantra was the first to report about the SRS of Sukanyeah Krishna. When asked about her journey after the surgery, she says, “This surgery can change lives, if it is done properly. A thorough and honest consultation with the psychiatrist and gender assessment tests must be done before the final step because this is an irreversible surgery.”

Her partner, Aarav Appukuttan, said, “We went all over the country but eventually found the right treatment only in Mumbai. The scenario is changing for good. But seeking correct treatment is a must.”

SRS is a complex procedure. Before the surgery, a person has to get a certification of gender dysphoria by two independent psychiatrists. “The tests are very important because only then will there be a proper assessment. I get at least two patients each month who wish to undergo SRS. In fact, out of these, 99% are genuinely fit for the surgery,” said Dr Sagar Karia, secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Society.

Gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria is a psychological disorder characterised by a persistent unhappiness with one’s own sex and a desire to be of the opposite sex as well as seeking sex reassignment surgery for the same.