Bhubaneswar: Notwithstanding the spurt in awareness levels among the masses relating to the third gender and their legal rights, the marginalised community in the state is still a victim of unregulated and unscientific ways of sex-change operations.
Despite spending lakhs on the surgeries, the third gender population often ends up in clinics that don’t follow the scientific procedures required for such operations. High costs of such surgeries also drive the people into the hands of quacks and paramedical staff who undertake such operations unscientifically at lower costs.
“Many of the transgenders from the state have tried to undergo sex-change operations. However, 99 per cent of them either take help of the quacks, paramedics or approach some doctors who operate on them without any ‘hormonal treatment’ leading to several side effects,” said a beneficiary of the surgery who underwent one such operation in 2012.
Medical experts claim that hormonal treatment is a pre-requisite for such surgeries if they are to be done in a scientific way. The hormonal treatment, according to them, should be done for almost a year before the actual operation.
“The scientific way to approach such cases is to first keep a tab on the hormone levels of the person who wants to undertake the surgery and administer medicines to manage his/her hormonal level and administer more hormones if needed. This makes their body physically and mentally ready to undergo such surgeries,” said Amrit Pattojoshi, a psychiatrist from the city.
He also said that many sex change operations bypass this important protocol needed for such life-changing surgeries for the third gender. Other medical professionals claim while many states have adopted the holistic gender specific approach to deal with such operations, Odisha is yet to take a big leap in that direction.
Some hospitals in places like Pondicherry use a combined service of surgeons, gynaecologists, anthologists, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists and others to make such exercises. Psychiatrist visits also seem to help in making the persons mentally ready and stable for such surgeries.
“Many such persons who want to undergo such surgeries come to me for consultations. I have to first make their families understand that the condition of the person being a third gender is absolutely normal. Moreover, we also counsel the persons undergoing the treatment to shun any complex or stress associated with their gender,” said Amrit Pattojoshi.
Biswa Bhushan Pattanayak, project manager of SAATHI (Solidarity & Action Against the HIV Infection in India), has been working with Pattojoshi and other doctors to advocate a holistic treatment to the third gender who want to undergo such operations.
He said, “A comprehensive care comprising surgeons, gynaecologists, anthologists, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists and others are needed to make such operations a success. Such an approach could help in fighting the issues faced by the third gender physically as well as mentally.”
Pattanayak, Pattojoshi and others are now holding regular camps for the third gender in the city to help access the medical services of hormonal tests and treatments in a non-biased environment.
However, transgender activists want more support from the state government.
“Such operations and also the hormonal treatments are very costly and run into lakhs. The state government should consider subsidising the treatment cost and include it in the Biju Swastya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) to help the third gender live a dignified life on their own terms,” said Meghna Sahoo, an advocate of transgender rights.