Mumbai: 4-year-old to be youngest to undergo genital reconstruction in city
Family of 4-year-old set to undergo genital reconstruction speak about their travails with admissions, Aadhaar and how they were inspired by Beed constable Lalit Salve.
All the other four-year-olds in Majalgaon have started going to school, except for little Aman. The child desperately wants to join them but doesn't have an Aadhaar card or any ID, for a simple reason — Aman's parents don't know what sex to register him under. For three years, they thought Aman was a girl. In 2016, they discovered he was a boy with an underdeveloped penis.
Since the discovery about his sex, people have been confused about what to call the four-year-old. Some call him 'Chhotu', others 'Chhoti', and the child innocently responds to all. But now, the family is inspired by the story of Beed cop Lalit Salve who struggled with the same issues until he underwent a genital reconstruction at St George hospital. The Khans have signed up their child for the same procedure next month, when he will become the youngest patient to undergo the surgery in Mumbai. After the surgery, his family plans to rename him Aman.
They couldn't understand
When the child was born in August 2013, the family was thrilled to welcome what they thought was their second daughter. "His penis is underdeveloped, so the glans (the head of the penis) looked like a vagina. Also, he doesn't have scrotum, so we didn't understand that he is a boy," said the father, Mohammad Khan, who is currently in Hyderabad. It was through sheer accident that the Khans discovered their child is actually a boy. "In 2016, when he was around three, he started scratching his genitals, which made us curious.
We took him to a doctor in Beed, who asked us to get a blood test done in Mumbai. It confirmed that Aman is a male," Mohammad recalled. For three years, the child was raised like a girl, playing with dolls with other little girls. But after the doctor confirmed his sex, the family got confused, as they had never heard about such a thing happening. Now, he is no longer allowed to play with dolls. But there was a bigger problem before the family.
No school for Aman
"We are not so educated, and all these things were new to us. When I went to make his Aadhaar card, I was asked to select a sex. I didn't know what to write, because he may be a male, but his genitals are missing. So, I returned without filling the forms. Now, I can't even admit him in a school," said Khan. Aman is currently homeschooled by his elder sister. His father were aware that there is surgery to reconstruct underdeveloped genitals, but the inter-state truck driver could not afford the complex procedure on his salary of Rs 10,000.
"The surgery costs a lot, and I couldn't afford it. But when we heard about Lalit Salve's story, it gave us hope," said Mohammed. He is referring to the Beed constable who famously underwent the same procedure at St George hospital in May. mid-day reported extensively on Lalit's transformation from Lalita to Lalit. Originally a female constable with the Rajegaon police station, where he has resumed duty as a male cop now.
When Lalit returned to Beed, Mohammad contacted him, and he in turn put them in touch with Dr Rajat Kapoor, the plastic surgeon who had operated upon him at St George hospital. "I know how it feels when you have to live like a woman in the body of a man. So, I am thankful that my life has found its mission to help all these people," Lalit told mid-day. The hospital has received 12 such cases since Lalit's surgery after international headlines. mid-day had also reported about an Assam government staffer, Rita Devi, from Assam, who has sought permission from her state to undergo a sex change operation (not to be confused with genital reconstruction).
St George will also raise funds for Aman's surgery next month, when the child will become the youngest patient to undergo the procedure in Mumbai. Dr Kapoor said that the child is suffering from the same genital complications as Salve. "It is tough for people to understand if a child is born with underdeveloped genitals. Thanks to Lalit's story, people have become aware and are accepting of it. We will operate on the child next month."
Cases at St George Hospital since Lalit Salve's surgery
What does intersex mean?
A baby that is born intersex has ambiguous genitalia or chromosomes, which can make it difficult to assign the right sex at birth.
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