Maharashtra policewoman undergoes successful sex change surgery

Mumbai, May 25 (IANS) After a series of legal and government battles, Maharashtra woman police officer Lalita Salve on Friday underwent a successful sex-change surgery to become a policeman.

The sex-change operation was conducted for over four hours by leading plastic surgeon Rajat Kapoor and his six-member team at the St. George Hospital here.

Salve, who has already taken the new name Lalit Kumar, was admitted to the hospital on May 22 and underwent a series of pre-surgery tests and procedures.

She was wheeled into the operation theatre around 8 a.m. and after the surgery, he was brought into the ICU where he will remain for the next few days.

An official of the St. George Hospital, declining to be identified, said that this was the first such “complex and ultra-sensitive” operation for changing the sex of an adult person, conducted in this leading government healthcare facility.

“All his vital parameters are normal, he is currently under observation and will not be allowed to meet with anyone for at least three days. He is likely to remain in hospital for around a week and then discharged,” the official told IANS.

The former woman official, Salve, 28, had joined the Maharashtra Police in May 2010 and was posted in Majalgaon City Police Station in Beed district.

A graduate in Literature, she had developed transsexual gender symptoms around three years ago and in 2016, had even taken her seniors into confidence about her agony and plans for a sex-change operation.

However, since her trauma went unheeded, she later made an application for a sex reassignment surgery (SRS) which was declared as “strange” and rejected outright by her superiors.

Undaunted, she filed a plea before the Bombay High Court which directed her to Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, and even appealed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Finally, in November 2017, Fadnavis seemed inclined to favour her cause which had wide ramifications on the issue of gender equality, discrimination and rights of sexual minorities, and asked the Police Department to consider her plea.

The CMO directed the Home Department to examine her case positively, which in turn forwarded it to Law & Judiciary Department, and then on to the Director General of Police, followed by Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil.

After Patil’s green signal last Monday, the final clearance came in writing from the government with the Superintendent of Police, Beed, G. Shreedhar allowing her medical leave for SRS.

Salve, now a male officer, is expected to resume his duties after around a month of post-operative care and recuperation.

This much-debated case has set an unusual precedent in Maharashtra where the state bowed before the wishes of a serving government official to undergo a sex-change surgery, surmounting many odds at various levels.

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