Born a Boy, Now a Woman: Stories of Sex Reassignment Surgery

Born a Boy, Now a Woman: Stories of Sex Reassignment Surgery

Fit

(On 6 September, the Supreme Court of India read down IPC's Section 377, decriminalising homosexuality. FIT is re-publishing this story from it’s archives.)

She was born a boy. Now, Taksh has transformed into a beautiful 23-year-old woman who wants to be a stylist.

Kritika was her parents’ only son. When she became a woman at 22, her parents disowned her. However, she’s happily married now and other than her husband she doesn’t want to reveal her past to people in her new life. So, her in-laws and colleagues don’t know she was a boy.

They’ve been loved, rejected, discriminated against, given support. But through it all they’ve wanted only one thing – to change their bodies to align with the gender they identify with. These are stories of sex reassignment surgeries.

Taksh is 23 years old and underwent sex reassignment surgery.
Taksh is 23 years old and underwent sex reassignment surgery.
(Photo: FIT)

“Even when I was really, really young thinking of myself as a woman was the most natural thing ever,” says Taksh.

“But as a child we do not know those terms. And even I as a child didn’t know what was wrong with me. Because I knew physically I was a guy so I why did I feel like a girl?”

What we as a society fail to understand is that sex is biological, whereas gender is determined largely by the mind. It’s how you see yourself; an innate personal sense of being male or female.

In transgenders who go for sex reassignment, sex and gender may not be in alignment. And they that they are born in the wrong body. It’s known as gender dysphoria.

Chapter 1: Child’s Play

Taksh and Kritika’s childhoods paint two contrasting pictures.

My childhood was actually pretty cool. My parents always just let me play however I wanted to. I used to play with chunnis and try on my mum’s red heels. They thought it was really cute.
Taksh
As a kid, Taksh used to like trying out her mom’s shoes.
As a kid, Taksh used to like trying out her mom’s shoes.
(Photo: FIT)

Kritika, however, stopped stepping out of her house as a kid and had no friends.

Everyone fondly remembers their childhood, I don’t. And I always thought about suicide as I was growing up because people never understood and didn’t want to either.
Kritika

She was a guy but her mannerisms were feminine. So, people used to call her gay, chhakka, hijra and other insults that effeminate guys are subjected to.

Everyone fondly remembers their childhood, Kritika doesn’t.
Everyone fondly remembers their childhood, Kritika doesn’t.
(Photo: FIT)

Taksh’s parents have always been supportive of her and her choices. Even when initially in Class 9, she came out to them as gay. Taksh’s mother laughs and recalls the coming out story.

I still remember I was watching a movie on TV. And she comes to my room and says ‘mumma, I have something to discuss with you’. I said go ahead. She said ‘I think I’m gay’. And I said ‘okay now let me watch the movie’. She was like ‘I’ve just told you something very important’. I said okay so what’s the big deal.
Dr Bela Sharma, Taksh’s Mother

Chapter 2: Not My Body

Taksh recounts, “Before puberty hit, I never thought of my body as something that I was trapped in or unhappy with. But once puberty started to come about I despised having hair on my body.”

Her mother tells us that around 18, Taksh opened up about wanting to modify her body. She put it into words that “I don’t like being what I am and if I can’t be what I want to be then I’d rather not live.”

Kritika had to quit her studies because of the discrimination and abuse she faced owing to her femininity.

"I had to leave engineering in second year because I was a boy that time and was living in the boy’s hostel. But my mannerisms were feminine. And because of that I went through sexual abuse and depression. My gender dysphoria shot up and I wanted kill myself that time,” Kritika recalls with a straight face.

Chapter 3: I’m Not Alone

(Photo: FIT)

When Taksh first found out what a transgender woman was, she “felt this insane amount of peace.” “I knew I wasn’t some dirty thing or a slur. I knew that what I was, was dignified and could lead a long life.”

I was around 18, when I left my studies and I decided to start my transition.

Kritika’s parents didn’t want her to change her sex. They said they won’t help her out. She was 18 when she quit her studies and decided to start her transition.

I was dependent on my parents financially then. So monthly, for 15-20 days, I used to starve myself just to save for my surgery. Later, I started working in a call centre to fund my transition and for my livelihood.
Kritika

How did Taksh’s parents come to terms with their son becoming a woman?

(Photo: FIT)

“It is never easy,” pat comes Taksh’s father’s reply. “But I was quite clear in my mind that this is what is required to get the child’s dysphoria removed. So, we decided to get the surgery done.”

Taksh’s mother, however, took some time to understand and even accept. “I had no problem having two daughters, that was never an issue. But why should a child go through so much of pain, physical and mental.”

Chapter 4: The Surgery

It’s not a magical journey. It’s a long, taxing and painful medical process. But that is the only thing Taksh and Kritika had wanted for so long.

(Photo: FIT)

Before a person undergoes sex reassignment surgery, there a number of hurdles they have to cross.

A typical transition from male to female or vice versa involves:

  1. Psychiatric counselling
  2. Hormone treatment
  3. Sex reassignment surgery

A psychiatrist first makes sure that the person is in the right state of mind to undergo this irreversible change. Once, they give an approval, hormone treatment starts. In this, they’re given the hormone of the sex they want to change to, which modifies the voice, skin, face, and body.

And surgery is the last step.

However, it’s an extremely expensive procedure, and not all can afford it. Still the number of surgeries happening in India is huge.

Dr Richie Gupta, Taksh and Kritika’s surgeon says that in their hospital alone, they perform around 100-150 sex reassignment surgeries a year.

There are two types of surgeries – top surgery and bottom surgery. For male-to-female individuals, bottom surgery is the more important one, which involves removing the penis and creating a vagina and clitoris.

The 6-hour long surgery involves converting the shaft of the penis into the vaginal cavity and the scrotal skin becomes the folds of the vagina.

Male-to-female surgery:

  1. Development of breasts
  2. Removal of penis, creation of vagina

Some people choose not to go for the first since hormone therapy can lead to the development of breasts.

Female-to-male surgery:

  1. Reduction of breasts
  2. Removal of female internal organs
  3. Creation of penis, scrotum and urethra

Chapter 4: Love, Sex and Marriage

Kritika is legally married now.

I met my husband on Facebook. Nobody knew about my past. But he actually loved me, even after I told him that I used to be a guy. It was a shock for him obviously, but he accepted me for who I am.

Kritika’s office colleagues or her in-laws, however, don’t know about her past. She I never felt the need to bring it up.

“Why should I tell anyone, it is something very personal. The person who I have to spend my life with knows and that’s enough,” she explains.

What about sexual feelings? Does she have the same experience as other women?

“See, that’s not why I changed my body but it’s an important part of everyone’s lives. I feel it the same way as any other woman would feel.”

A vagina that’s constructed is practically undetectable from that of a woman who was born with it.

Chapter 6: Changed Identity

(Photo: FIT)

An extremely important step for transgenders is getting their documentation changed.

Even as there is a law permitting transgenders to get their gender changed on documents without any hassle or certifications, the government officials aren’t a helpful lot.

“It almost felt like we were doing something wrong which we weren’t,” exclaims an annoyed Taksh.

When we talk of rights, it all starts with a document. Kritika explains the ordeal transgenders go through.

Whether you want a SIM, a loan or a job you have to produce an ID at every step. Socially, I was living as a female but I hadn’t undergone surgery then so my documents still said ‘male’. And that created a huge problem for me.
Kritika

She tried to change my name and gender. But even after a Supreme Court verdict ordering otherwise, the government’s policy didn’t allow that change until you have the surgery certificate.

“And I was financially too weak to get my surgery that time. But that doesn’t mean the government should let me suffer. So then I decided to fight because this policy change won’t just help me but millions of transgenders,” announces a determined Kritika.

She was the first person to get her name and gender changed without the surgery in India.

Trans people are not different from the society. It is high time that the society accepts them for what they are. And gives them all rights and opportunities that are bestowed on them by the Constitution of India.

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Camerapersons: Abhay Sharma, Abhishek Ranjan, Athar Rather and Shiv Kumar Maurya

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