Endless struggle: Process to update IDs after sex change traumatic, say trans women
A sex change is usually one of the toughest and most traumatic processes a human being undergoes, involving hormonal treatment and multiple surgeries and dealing with the reaction of families and friends. However, getting that newfound identity officially endorsed has its own share of agony.
For trans women in the city, updating identity cards and other documents after a sex reassignment surgery has been a nightmare, which left them feeling discriminated against and humiliated.
FELT LIKE A LESSER HUMAN
Vandana (name changed to protect identify) hated it when she visited the Sampark Centre at Sector 10 to update her Aadhaar card.
An engineer by profession and a male, Vandana, who been undergoing hormonal therapy for over a year, had transformed into a beautiful woman by the time she went for a name change. “It was difficult, standing there and feeling eyes boring into you. The looks I got from the officials made me feel like a lesser human. When I walked in and asked how one’s name and gender could be changed people looked at me in disgust, some others smirked while others refused to answer my questions.”
At first there was point blank refusal. “Ye sab yahaan nahi hota (this doesn’t happen here),” she was told . “I felt suffocated in that office and wanted to rush out, but I knew I had to get the documents so I insisted that they do my bidding.”
She was then given a form to fill and asked to attach an affidavit from a doctor and a newspaper clipping of the name change advertised.
“Within a month I got an updated Aadhaar. The feeling of holding the first document with my new name, new picture and gender was unexplainable. I didn’t have words to express it,” beamed Vandana.
Determined to face all the negativity she went about the business of upgrading all the other documents and was now the proud owner of a voter as well as ration card.
MOVING HIGH COURT
Updating her educational certificates was another challenge.
It was not easy. “That was the most challenging part. I had to finally move the high court and file an application for changing my identity in my educational documents. I received a letter from the university concerned that they would change the documents after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) updated my record. I am still waiting for a message from CBSE,” Vandana said.
She wished the process was simpler and staff more sensitive when interacting with trans people.
However, most cases go unreported as trans women do not want trouble. “As such no one has approached us with any complaint. But if any trans person is facing a problem, the department of social welfare is ready to help them. They can approach us anytime and we will do our best to help them,” said Navjot Kaur, director, department of social welfare, Chandigarh.
Amruta (name changed), another trans woman from the city, however, was convinced that her battles would never end. “Since I gained consciousness, my soul and body were in conflict; when I decided to undergo surgery I had to fight another battle with family and society. After surgery, I thought this would bring an end to my troubles, but changing my identity on every document had its own share of problems.”
Since June and July, Amruta’s father had been doing the rounds of the CBSE office in Panchkula to get her documents changed. It was nothing “less than a nightmare”.
“Earlier, my father used to go there every week but they would say bade saab (senior official) would examine my case and ask father to come back again. Then they started calling him after 15 days. Two weeks later, however, they refused to change the documents,” Amruta said.
There was unsolicited advice too. A staff member of the CBSE office told her father, “Jo parmatma ne banaya hai, aap kaise badal sakte ho? Aise nahi hota gender change (How can you change what god has created? Gender change does not happen just like that).”
Amruta will make another bid to go to the CBSE office. “I need to have updated documents as I am planning to move abroad. I cannot present certificates and documents showing me as a man, now that I am a woman.”
These hardships made her feel that the complicated hormonal therapy and sex-change surgery was the easier part of the journey. “You know you’re in for a tough time when you go to government babus and disclose to every other person that you have undergone a sex-change surgery and plead with them to upgrade documents with your new identity.”
“It’s the saddest thing,” she said.