Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is still a struggle for the transgenders in the Bengaluru. Even though, they would prefer changing their sex owing to the problems their body faces regularly, the cost of the surgery is such that they have no other option but to opt out of it.
Transgenders still waiting for change
“I had started my counselling session for my sex reassignment surgery but I stopped my treatment just after that because I fell low of my monitory resources,” said Priya, a transgender person told The Logical Indian. Sex reassignment is still a chargeable service in Karnataka. In 2017, the Karnataka’s Transgender Policy approved by the state cabinet had suggested free SRS for transgenders in all government hospitals but until now it is only Victoria Hospital that provides free services, said Amulya, who underwent a surgery in the times when it was not legal in India.
“We have written to the government to give us free SRS services in all the districts of Karnataka because that would make our lives much easier,” said Amulya.
“I directly went ahead for my surgery instead of following the entire process of SRS long time ago. At that time, I paid Rs 40000,” she added. Amulya also mentioned that since transgenders have no job opportunities, they go into begging or become sex workers just to accumulate the money they would need for SRS.
“M.S. Ramaiah Hospital is the hospital that we go to for our operations. It provides all the facilities along with some discounts for us. Other than that no hospital provides SRS in such less amount,” Priya told The Logical Indian.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Umesh alias Uma, Executive Director of Jeeva Foundation said, “We regularly get people who want to undergo SRS but either the government hospitals do not have all facilities under one roof or if you chose a private hospital, it costs you way too much.” Another such transgender person, Khushboo, whose sole income is begging said, “SRS for me is a far-fetched option, I cannot even meet my basic needs by begging. Even though I would definitely want to undergo the surgery, I cannot afford it.”
Amulya also added that no hospital has complete surgeries available. “We can get our breast construction done but getting vagina construction is another tough task for us as it is not done in almost all the hospitals in Karnataka,” said Amulya.
What the doctors have to say about it?
Doctors too understand and lament the situation but believe it is beyond their capabilities to help these transgenders financially. “After all the psychological process is done. Only then is the patient with Gender Diaspora (a.k.a transgender) is referred to us. All we do is prescribe them the hormonal change. We do not provide them with the needed hormones. They have to go and get the therapy done from some other agencies. We just prescribe them the procedure after studying their body. The tests in itself costs them a lot,” said Dr Rakesh Bobba, an endocrinologist at M.S. Ramaiah to The Logical Indian. He also added that they start the process only after the psychologist has been approved.
SRS is a very complicated process with the first step being counselling by a psychologist followed by hormone transformation and finally the surgery with other complicated steps in between as well. Even after the surgery the transgenders face a lot of issues and have to undergo the surgery more than once to avoid the same costing them even more.
“The major hindrances we see as psychologists is the support these gender diasporic people lack. They have no support from family or society whatsoever. Thus they chose to undergo SRS to avoid the complications they face in society as well as the complications they face in their bodies but the financial aspect of SRS is an added pressure to them, “ said Dr.Pramila Kalra, a psychologist at M.S. Ramaiah Hospital told The Logical Indian.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had granted these transgenders equal rights and legal rights specifying them as ‘third gender’.