The Crusader of Mental Health

Trapped in the wrong body

CRC opened the letter. It was from Kalamani* in Chikkamagaluru, he noted.

Doctor, I was born as a girl – but I am not a woman. My body is that of a woman, but I a man inside. While creating me, God put a man’s mind in a woman’s body. I want to live as a man. My body must be changed to that of a man. I yearn for a beard, moustache, male sex organs. With the passing of each day, my desire to marry a beautiful girl and settle down increases. When I see a movie, I imagine myself in the hero’s role. I want to undergo sex change operation. From Kalamani, I want to become Kamalakar. Please suggest a good surgeon in our country for me.

CRC wrote back.
Sex reassignment surgery is not a child’s play. The process takes many steps and a long time, like one to two years. You need lots of money and great determination. Let me assess how strong is your desire for gender change. If you can accept your body and live as a woman, behavioral change therapy is available to help you. Do come to see me, whenever you can.

Kalamani came with her parents to see CRC in NIMHANS. CRC questioned her on her state of mind. She was certainly a transsexual. Her body was fully female, but her mind was telling her that she was a man. Her mind was yearning to be liberated from her woman’s body at the earliest.

Her parents were upset and angry. “Doctor, what is this madness. Is it at all possible for her to become a man? Is it necessary? Please give her strong medicine so that she gives up this stubborn desire. “
“There is no need to counsel me. Either help me undergo sex-change surgery or tell where I can get it done”, Kala shouted back.

“Kalamani, it is not as easy as you imagine. There are very few doctors in our country who have experience in sex reassignment surgery. It needs lot of preparation, great determination and loads of money. Apart from the surgeon, a psychiatrist, hormone specialist, gynecologist and urologist are needed.
First you would wear men’s clothes and try to live like a man. Once you feel you can handle it, a series of surgeries would be performed. Your breast, uterus, ovaries will be removed. Along with this, you would be given a course of testosterone hormone. Cosmetic surgery to create male sex organs would be done and penile prosthesis implanted.

After all this what you will get is a man’s body, but it cannot produce sperm. You cannot father a child. You have to bear the adverse reactions and pain of surgeries and hormone treatment.”

CRC was hoping this detailed description would deter her. Kala did not like what she had heard.

“Despite being a psychiatrist, you refuse to understand my pain, frustration and helplessness,” she complained.

“Think over this calmly and come back to me after a couple of months”, CRC advised the family.
Kala continued to write. Whenever she read an article on SRS, she would ask CRC if she should meet the doctor mentioned in it.

After few months, he came across a news item which shocked and saddened him. Kala and another girl had secretly entered into a relationship; Kala had convinced the girl to marry her, and both had married secretly. When their parents had come know of this, they were beaten up. The girls had tried to commit suicide. The other girl died but Kala survived the suicide attempt.

Later, CRC received a letter.
You must have read the news. Because of me Rama died. Our parents, society do not understand the pain of people like us. People like you should educate the society. Can I never be free from this woman’s body? I am under house arrest virtually. Everyone blames me and treats me like a criminal. My mind will not change. What should change is my body. But you doctors are not ready for to do this.

I pray that I die soon and be born again as a man. Please give me your blessings.
This was the last letter he got from Kala. From then on, whenever he took a class on transsexuality, he would recall Kala’s case and feel sad, and hope that advances in medical science would be able to help people like her.