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Bombay HC to decide on Guwahati boy's sex change plea today

in INDIA, 02/05/2012

On Monday, the Bombay High Court is likely to deliver an order on a petition filed by a 21-year-old student from Guwahati, Bidan Barua, seeking restraint on his family which is interfering in a sex change surgery that he wants to undergo. In his petition before the HC, Barua has said that his family, especially his parents, have threatened him, his flight lieutenant fiance as well as the doctors who are willing to perform the surgery.

As a result doctors from a hospital in south Mumbai have refused to go ahead with the surgery until the Bombay HC issues an order directing them to do so.

Bidan, who incidentally celebrated his 21st birthday on Sunday, has chosen the name 'Swati' for himself as he believes that he is a woman trapped in man's body. Speaking to Mail Today, Bidan has said that right since his childhood he felt an inclination towards the fairer sex. As he turned 18, he decided to undergo a sex change operation.  

"I always felt like a woman and then slowly as I grew, I realised that India too had the medical advancement available. Since the age of 18, I began to save money by taking grammar tuitions and other such jobs," says Bidan, whose flight lieutenant fiancé is posted at the air force base in Gujarat. Bidan, who had saved Rs.2 lakh for the surgery over the years, is now worried about the finances too.

"Even if the court order is in my favour, which I am hopeful of, the fact is that I am spending money to fight this case as well as my stay here. At the end of the case, I'll have no money left for the surgery, which was scheduled for April 17," says Bidan, whose family stalled the surgery. Bidan added that coincidentally the doctor performing his surgery had done a successful gender change procedure for a well-known industrialist, a couple of years ago.

Bidan alias Swati's love story with his fiancé goes back four years to Guwahati, when the flight lieutenant was posted there. "We started off as good friends and I had not told him about my inclination towards womanhood earlier. But during that time, I was admitted to the hospital for severe injuries due to torture at the hands of my parents. He had got worried about me when we didn't meet for a few days. When I was discharged and we met, I narrated the entire story to him and he was extremely supportive. About two years ago, after another round of assault from my family, he proposed to me and we decided that I would undergo this surgery to get married." While the fiance has chosen his female name as "Sagarika", Bidan likes Swati more.

Bidan says that his parents often mistreated him and kept him confined to one room in the house for the embarrassment they felt from his decisions. "My fiancé has supported me a lot through all this. And he is now waiting to fix up our wedding date once my sex change procedure is complete," says Bidan, who underwent a psychiatric test in Guwahati in March to evaluate his 'mental fitness' to undego the procedure.

The result was positive and Bidan ran away from home on March 31 to Mumbai to undergo the surgery. His father, Supti Barua traced him to Mumbai and landed at the hospital just before Bidan could undergo the surgery. Bidan has an older brother, who too is against Bidan's decision. However, Bidan is unfazed and says, "I think my story will give more people like me the chance to come out and voice themselves. My petition is based on the principal of fundamental rights and its infringement by my parents and I am very confident I will win this case."

Bidan's lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi told Mail Today, "In case of an individual suffering from a mental or psychological problem, as per authorized certificates, the family can make decisions on his/her behalf, but Bidan is mentally fit to undergo this surgery. In the absence of any law prohibiting a sex change operation, one can safely say that interfering with the decision of an adult is completely denying him his fundamental right.

The bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar assigned the matter to the bench of Justices SF Vajifdar and AR Joshi which is slated to hear the matter on Monday.

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