Sex reassignment surgery (SRS), is also known as gender reassignment surgery. It is a surgical procedure performed on a person to change their physical and sexual characteristics to resemble the gender that they identify with.
A 27 year old, submitted a petition to Islamabad High Court (IHC) to allow her to get a sex reassignment surgery.
According to doctors, the petitioner has been experiencing gender dysphoria since the age of 13 and as a result has been suffering from depression, anxiety and insomnia. Multiple physical and psychiatric exams have also been carried out by doctors to confirm that she suffers from the condition. They have also recommended her going with the surgery.
People who opt for sex reassignment surgery suffer from gender dysphoria. It is a condition in which one cannot relate and connect, psychologically and emotionally, with their biological gender. The surgery is therefore part of the treatment of this condition.
The problem lies with the stigma attached with such a procedure and people correlating it with being against the injunctions of Islam
Many transgenders due to this do not seek this treatment. They might take hormones to appear more like their desired gender but do not seek surgery. Their gurus (guardians) also advice against it because the hospitals and doctors who perform these procedure do not have the required mental health counsellors to help people go through such a major change in their lives. As a result, many end up regretting their decision.
Doctor Zafar Zaidi, a urologist, talks about how the procedure impacts men and women differently.
He says that children at a very early age start showing signs of gender dysphoria and they need to be picked upon immediately. Children should not be forced to accept a particular gender because this translates into a lifetime of trauma. According to him most of the women who transition to men end up leading normal lives but for men it’s very different. Many find it a bit difficult to gel into the society again.
The procedure takes place in the following manner:
Sex reassignment includes reshaping of the genitals, facial reconstruction, complete hysterectomy, bilateral mastectomy, and chest reconstruction or augmentation. However people with HIV and Hepatitis might find it a little difficult to find doctors to perform the surgery. This is so because these procedures are performed generally in clinics and it is difficult to deal with such complications in these situations.
Mind you, this is not the first time sex reassignment surgery to be permitted in Pakistan.
A female in Kohat transitioned to male in 2015 and later got engaged to his childhood sweetheart. Similarly, two sisters in Chakwal also transitioned to male at a local hospital after their doctor confirmed the condition.
Kanwal Sidra in Karachi transitioned into Abdullah and talks about his experience
This petition should not just result in permission but also legislation for cases in the future.
The government should push hospitals offering this service to also consider providing mental health counselling to the patients as well. Otherwise this will only result in a traumatic life pre and post surgery.
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Cover image via: pri.org