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Woman, by choice

Sex change surgeries are no longer limited to the ‘elusive’ lot, but doctors advise caution.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 11, 2010 02:18 IST
Himadree

I enjoy sex like any other normal girl, in fact maybe even better than them,” says Nikkey Chawla, a 24-year-old stylist, when asked whether a transsexual can have a normal sex life. Born a boy, Chawla has recently, and successfully, made the journey to womanhood — the youngest to do so in Delhi.

And though the trend — and societal acceptance — of going for sex-change surgeries increases in the country, doctors still warn of associated complications. “It’s an irreversible process, and honestly, if a person is not satisfied with the results, he would suffer for the rest of his life, hence I would always suggest careful thought before it is opted for,” says Dr Devansh, senior consultant, cosmetic surgeon at Maharaja Agrasen hospital.

But then it is all about personal choice. So, if you feel you are a woman trapped in a man’s body or vice versa, here’s what you should keep in mind before you go for a sex change surgery.

Are you sure you need it? The International Gender Dysphoria Association states three main criteria that clinically certify a person as Transsexual:
a) A persistent desire to live as a member of the opposite sex and hence the wish to change body parts through hormonal and surgical process;
b) The individual should be feeling trapped in a wrong body at least for two years;
c) The feeling shouldn’t be a sign of any mental disorder and chromosomal abnormality.

What is a sex change surgery? Dr DJS Tulla, a consultant at Dr B.L.Kapur Memorial Hospital, puts it as, “a sexual reassignment surgery done to change the sex of a person through hormonal and surgical procedure.”

Surgical aside, psychiatric and psychological sessions play an important role too, as a Gender Indentity Disorder certification, after counselling, is mandatory.

TV personality, Bobby Darling, claims to have already got breast implants and is on her way to get more done. “I’ll be a complete woman in 2012,” says Bobby, who’s been “saving money for years” to get operated.

Side effects
“There is an 80 per cent chance that a female turned male through surgery, will never experience real sexual pleasure as natural erection is a distant possibility. Even in case of a male to female conversion, the person can never conceive,” says Dr Tulla.

“Nature can never be replicated, and medical science is far from perfect. Sex change surgery will only end up converting a perfect female to a less perfect male and vice versa,” adds Dr Devansh.

Vital stats
Pre surgery time:
Conselling for 6 months to a year
Surgery time: Two to three hours in a session; some cases take months and several sessions Post surgery: One month bed rest after each surgery. Complete healing takes a year or two. Cost: R 10-15 lakhs, depending on the hospital and the surgeon.

Terms you should know
Gay: A term developed in the late 19th century, It refers to those men who are attracted towards the same sex.

Lesbian: Originating in the Greek island Lesbos, the term refers to women who are sexually attracted to other women. Together, gays and lesbians constitute the term ‘homosexuals’

Bisexual: First referred during the reign of Roman emperor Haridan in 124 AD, bisexuals are those men and women who show sexual orientation towards both the sexes.

Transgender: The simple text book meaning for this term is a person whose physical characteristics clash with the one he is born with. He is born like a woman but his sexual organs are that of a man and vice versa. Transgenders want to abide by the laws of nature and hence, don’t prefer a sexual reassignment surgery. The term came in vogue during 70’s.

Transsexual : A person who is suffering from gender identity disorder and hence undergoes a sex change operation, either from male to female or vice versa.

Crossdresser and drag queen: The term Crossdressers refers to people who love to dress up as a member of the opposite sex. They’re not necessarily transgender, bi-sexual, gay or lesbian. A Drag queen is a male who dresses up as a woman to entertain people.