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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Doctors ‘socially adopt’ Doon transgender who wants sex reassignment surgery

Hounded for being ‘queer’, a transgender has finally found some solace after doctors at one of Dehradun’s leading hospitals decided to fund his medical needs and even raise funds for a surgery to change his gender.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2018 18:42 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times, Dehradun

Being in a society known for its contempt for and prejudice against transgender people was not easy for Ajay Pal, until doctors at one of the top hospitals in the Uttarakhand capital promised him help to alleviate the ostracism he is facing.

The doctors at Coronation Hospital, renamed after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, have “socially adopted” Pal and are now looking for funds to fulfill his wish for a gender change operation — a surgical procedure called sex reassignment surgery.

Pal aka Tejasya Nath, who identifies himself and dresses as a woman, couldn’t thank the doctors more. “I have always considered myself a girl since childhood. I feel shackled in a male body,” he said.

He has always been fighting social stigma and pressure over his identity, and allegedly faced backlash from eunuchs or hijras as well.

“I felt like ending my life after a recent clash with neighbours who think I’m not normal. But that would have meant giving up on hope and my dream of pursuing social work. When I get a job, I’d like to help poor girls get educated and married,” said Pal, who dropped out of school after Class 10.

He found new hope when he got in touch with Dr NS Bisht, a senior physician at Coronation, who took up the matter with the hospital’s chief medical superintendent Dr LC Punetha. On January 26, the doctors pledged all possible help to the young transgender man.

“We decided to socially adopt Pal to encourage others to come forward and support such people. We will provide medical guidance and assistance available at our hospital free of charge to Pal,” Punetha said on Saturday.

The doctors are looking for charities to help fund his surgery that will help Pal, who has hypo-developed male organs, anatomically transform into a woman.

“We will also approach the social welfare department to explore employment and other options through which Pal can be empowered to live a respectable life,” Punetha said.

Pal is getting help from Dehradun police too, who are running an awareness campaign for people in his neighbourhood. Senior superintendent of police Nivedita Kukreti Kumar said she has directed officers to convince locals not to trouble Pal.

“Societal acceptance for transgender people is low in our society. They have the basic right to live with dignity and the way they want to. We’re trying to sensitize people on this front,” Kumar said.

The moves reflect a watershed to stop the social stigma and ostracism against transsexuals, who are often referred to as eunuchs. They are forced to live on the fringes of society and have been facing discrimination in jobs and services such as health and education since British colonial times.

“People in my locality have been tormenting me and want me to be thrown out of my house ... I’ve even received threats. All I want to do is lead a life of dignity,” Pal said.

Brought up by his paternal uncle, the family survives on rent from tenants in their home. “I want a job so that I can stand on my feet and help others as well,” he said.

For Pal, the help from doctors and police are big steps in his search for a way to survive, stay sane and find a future.

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 16:13 IST

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