Genetic testing reveals Y chromosome: police officer in India undergoes sex reassignment surgery

Convincing my parents and siblings to accept who I truly am took months of tireless effort. Night after night at the dinner table, my father mockingly called me Didi (sister), hinting that I had lost my mind.

  • 4 months ago
  • March 19, 2024
8 min read
Police officer Lalit Salve underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a man in India after karyotyping revealed a Y chromosome. | Photo courtesy of Lalit Salve Police officer Lalit Salve underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a man in India after karyotyping revealed a Y chromosome. | Photo courtesy of Lalit Salve
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Lalit Salve, formerly known as Lalita Salve, is a dedicated police constable at Shivaji Nagar police station in Mumbai, India. In 2018, Lalit underwent a transformative gender reassignment surgery, transitioning from female to male after a prolonged struggle for acceptance from his family and society. As a woman serving in the police force, Lalit obtained special permission from the State Government for his gender reassignment. Now living as a man, Lalit married a woman two years ago and has recently embraced fatherhood with the birth of his son.
background information
Chromosome analysis, or karyotyping, is a test that evaluates the number and structure of a person’s chromosomes to detect abnormalities. This test can provide valuable insights into genetic conditions and is often used in the context of gender identity to understand chromosomal influences.

Gender affirmation surgery encompasses a range of procedures designed to assist individuals in transitioning to their true gender identity. These gender-affirming options can include facial surgery, top surgery, and bottom surgery. The majority of individuals who undergo gender affirmation surgeries report high satisfaction levels with the outcomes, including the appearance and functionality of their bodies, as well as an enhanced quality of life. Such surgeries can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing psychological distress due to gender incongruence, also known as gender dysphoria. For more information, visit Cleveland Clinic’s Gender Affirmation Surgery page.

MUMBAI, India — Born as Lalita, I always felt disconnected from my assigned gender. Despite being raised as a girl, my demeanor and appearance felt more aligned with that of a boy. During my childhood, relatives often commented on my boyish appearance, initially causing me anxiety as I identified with being a girl.

However, as a teenager, I gradually recognized a discomfort in my own skin. Thankfully, years of relentless efforts paid off. My family came to accept and support my transition, and I obtained the necessary permissions from the government and court to undergo sex reassignment surgery and have my gender identity officially reassigned. My journey has been unexpected. Now, I take pride in being a father, a role that fills my life with happiness.

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Karyotyping test results revealed the presence of the ‘Y’ chromosome

I grew up in a small town in Maharashtra. In 2010, I joined the state police force, which took me all over different districts and showed me a lot of diverse settings. Around that time, I started feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Being a woman did not feel right to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

This feeling made me insecure, and it was hard for me to connect with people. As time went on, I started noticing changes in my body that confused me even more. My voice deepened, more like a man’s, and people started making fun of me for it. The constant mockery felt disheartening, further complicating my sense of self.

I began extensive research online and discovered a genetic test called karyotyping, which analyzes an individual’s chromosomes. The results revealed the presence of the ‘Y’ chromosome in my body, confirming my male gender identity despite my anatomical female features. This discovery brought some clarity to my internal turmoil, but I knew the road ahead would be challenging, especially in terms of gaining acceptance from my family and society.

As a police constable in India, I was acutely aware of the social attitudes toward transgender individuals. In my traditional Indian family, I first broached the topic with my mother. Initially met with disbelief, I spent several days convincing her of the necessity of gender-reassignment surgery. Eventually, she agreed to discuss the matter with my father on my behalf. However, my father’s reaction was far from supportive; he dismissed my feelings, calling me a fool. Yet, I remained resolute.

It takes months to convince family of gender reassignment surgery

Convincing my parents and siblings to accept who I truly am took months of tireless effort. Night after night at the dinner table, my father mockingly called me Didi (sister), hinting that I had lost my mind. Even with solid proof from doctors and my own unshakeable belief, I felt caught in a cycle of self-doubt, wrestling with my inner voice. The weight of this struggle pushed me to the brink of considering suicide more than once. The thought of continuing a life without being true to myself was too much to bear.

My prolonged silence stemmed from deep-seated resentment toward my parents’ reluctance to support my decision. Although I could have proceeded with the surgery independently, disregarding their wishes, that was out of line with the values I grew up with. Their consent seemed crucial to me, not just for the surgery itself but for my overall peace of mind.

At last, my father came around, acknowledging that this was my life and my choice. With his nod, I pressed on with the process of getting all the needed permissions from the department, government, and court and went through the mandatory counseling for the surgery.

The road to becoming my true self felt difficult. Being a police officer added extra hurdles. I had to get special permission from both the government and the court to go ahead with gender reassignment surgery. On top of that, I needed to be sure that my job would still be there for me after my transition.

Surgeries pose challenges, pave the way to reclaiming gender identity

The arduous process of securing departmental approval and the requisite permissions for my surgery exhausted me. As a government employee, I needed special clearance from the state government to undergo sex reassignment surgery. After relentless efforts, they granted me an audience with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, who approved my request in our first meeting. Subsequently, I obtained a month’s leave from the Bombay High Court to undergo the surgery.

Between 2018 and 2020, I underwent three surgeries at the state-run St. George Hospital in Mumbai, India. The procedures were excruciatingly painful, as the doctors warned. They cautioned me that the outcomes might not meet my expectations. Having lived for years in a body that didn’t align with my true identity, I was willing to endure physical pain for the chance at a fresh start. I approached each surgery with confidence and complete trust in the medical professionals. The prospect of finally reclaiming my identity outweighed any fear.

Each day threw a fresh challenge my way, but I pushed on and became the man I felt I was. I embraced every part of me – my looks, behavior, and even how I spoke. With this newfound acceptance and love for myself, I felt whole again. When I got my job back, it felt like the final piece of the puzzle fell into place, making my life complete.

I needed to find peace within my own body; to escape the dual existence of living as a man trapped as a woman. I never thought of marriage as a priority. My focus remained on achieving personal comfort and authenticity. I found contentment in my relationships, career, and circle of friends who accepted me unconditionally.

Man becomes a father after undergoing sex reassignment surgery

After taking my bold step forward, I began to champion the rights of individuals undergoing sex reassignment. I became a trusted confidant for many across the country struggling with their gender identity. Additionally, I offered support and guidance to those in need. Embracing my true identity, I stepped into family gatherings and office parties with newfound confidence, quickly becoming a cherished presence.

My relatives, noticing this transformation, started exploring marriage prospects for me. My sister-in-law put forward her cousin from her village, who initially hesitated to accept me due to my transition. She harshly pointed out I remained a girl. Yet, I felt unfazed by her reluctance; such reactions had become familiar territory.

A few months down the line, our paths crossed again at a wedding. This time, she looked at me with fresh eyes, appreciating my masculine appearance. Eventually, she agreed to marry me. Our wedding was spectacular, a grand celebration that brought all our loved ones together. Life blossomed into something amazing.

Lalit and his wife during their wedding | Photo courtesy of Lalit Salve

My wife stood by me as a pillar of strength, adapting to my post-surgery needs and embracing the changes in our lives. Her support became my anchor, so when she voiced her desire for a child, I started asking myself if that could be a possibility.

In January of this year, my child was born. The doctor who performed my surgery reminded me that while I had longed for a child, not all individuals who undergo sex reassignment surgery have the opportunity to do so. Becoming a father has brought me immense joy, and my family shares in this happiness. We named our child Aarush, meaning “first ray of the sun.”

Aarush symbolizes hope, not just for my family but for others who aspire to undergo sex reassignment surgery and envision a fulfilling life. We are committed to instilling gender-neutral values in him, allowing him the freedom to shape his identity and make his own choices. Life truly becomes beautiful when we live authentically. When I chose self-love, my life underwent a positive transformation.

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