On a usual Monday morning, two women walked into Sion Hospital. Both in their late 20s, they awaited their turn to see consulting psychiatrist Dr Sagar Karia.
During a chat with Dr Karia, he realised that one of the two women, Sumita (name changed) wished to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Born a woman, she wanted to undergo the surgery so that she could start living as a man. She was at Dr Karia’s clinic to get a fitness certification certificate for the surgery.
Sumita has since undergone a surgery, and goes by the name Sumit. The woman, who accompanied him to the hospital, is his long-time girlfriend. They are now looking forward to getting married.
“Sumit’s case is that of gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria. A lot of these patients are in the age group of 20 to 30. They are generally born with the disorder, and it manifests as they grow up. A series of psychological tests are done before a fitness certification is given for the surgery. However, there are no definite guidelines on GID procedure or treatment,” said Dr Karia.
In the past 3 years, psychiatrists say, there is high reportage of GID. “There is a lot of stigma surrounding gender dysphoria. Till recently, a lot of people would not talk about it. However, things have changed as there is a lot of information available about the condition on the Internet. The younger generation is more aware. They read things up online and seek help,” said Dr Heena Merchant, ex-secretary of the Bombay Psychiatry Association and assistant professor at KEM Hospital.
Doctors and experts, however, point out that there is a flipside to the sea of information that is available online as some patients choose self-medication. “Counselling is a must for those suffering from such disorders. It is very important for everyone to come to terms with their identity. One must remember that the reassignment surgery is irreversible,” said Dr Merchant.
Pointing out the perils of self-medication, Dr Merchant cited an example. “Raman (name changed) felt trapped in a man’s body. He came to me for seeking help after he took certain injections about which he had read online. He developed breasts, but that’s not enough to become a woman. He had to be counselled and given medical care accordingly,” she said.
What is GID?
Gender identity disorder (GID) is a psychological disorder characterised by persistent unhappiness with one’s own gender and desire to be of the opposite gender as well as seeking gender reassignment surgery for the same