Beed district's Majalgaon has found itself on the map and the reason isn't completely simple or conventional — its constable Lalita Salve and her fight for securing a nod for a sex reassignment surgery while retaining her job. Majalgaon, a town in Beed district with a population of little over 4,000, as per the 2001 census, was at the centre of a statewide discussion, as Salve, 29, in 2017 had approached the Bombay High Court, requesting that she be allowed to continue in the police force following a gender re-assignment surgery
As a student, Lalita Salve was very active since the time she wore her uniform. She was felicitated by schools and colleges for teaching a lesson to street harassers who trouble girl students
Talking exclusively to mid-day in 2017, Lalita Salve narrated her ordeal. "I have been noticing severe hormonal changes in my body over the last five years. It came to a point where I could no longer keep quiet about it and had to open up to someone. So, I spoke to my mother first, and she asked me to see some doctors in my hometown. They then asked me to see a doctor in Mumbai," she said
Her uncle had brought her to Mumbai in 2017, where she was referred to a surgeon in JJ hospital, who suggested her to undergo the surgery. After it had been confirmed that was the only option, she'd involved her family to help her to make a decision
Lalita Salve had not even informed her father. Lalita said, "When I opened up to him, to my delight, he took it very well. My only concern now is my job, as I am the only one in my family with a stable source of income; my parents work in farms of other people in my hometown and my two brothers do small jobs." While one of her brothers owns a mobile shop in their hometown, the other drives an autorickshaw.
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
Constable Lalita Salve had done her research before writing to her superiors for leave — she had consulted a gynaecologist, psychologist and a plastic surgeon from a South Mumbai hospital well-known for doing such supra major sex change surgeries
Lalita Salve then made an application for a sex reassignment surgery (SRS) which was declared as 'strange' and rejected outright by her superiors
Undaunted, Lalita Salve filed a plea before the Bombay High Court which directed her to Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, and even appealed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened and asked the director general of police to make an exception in her case and retain her in service as a male constable after the procedure. Fadnavis told mid-day that he decided to make an exception because it was among 'the rarest of rare' cases
A junior doctor, who was attached to the Grant medical college and privy to this case, said, "The lady was keen to undergo the sex reassignment surgery. We found that she had underdeveloped male genitalia."
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 Ranjit Patil's green signal, the final clearance came in writing from the government with the Superintendent of Police, Beed, G. Shreedhar allowing her medical leave for SRS. A happy Salve, who now prefers to be called Lalit Kumar, said, "I met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on March 21, 2018. He'd then assured me that the matter would be resolved on an urgent basis. I was sure that the government would give me a positive response
On May 2018, Lalita Salve said, "I have sought permission for the surgery, leave for it, and to be in service as a male constable afterwards, as per consultations with JJ Hospital doctors, who too had asked me to get the department's permission. I am very happy now and especially grateful to the CM for giving me a new birth."
Lalita Salve's uncle Arjun Ujagare said, "We come from an orthodox family, and sex reassignment surgery and all are out of the ordinary for people like us. We have never even thought about such things, leave alone talk about it. But, Lalita is just like a man, when she spoke her heart out to us, we had no option but to support her. We don't care about what the extended family and community speak about us, we just want to support her."
Lalita Salve, who was finally given permission for a sex reassignment surgery, got admitted to St George Hospital in May 2018, and the first procedure - to help her urinate the way men do - was started. After this, she went under the knife, ie plastic surgeons collected tissues from her body to form a scrotum.
Lalita Salve's uncle Arjun Ujagare told mid-day in May 2018, "We have no words to express our happiness. Her mother [Kesarbai] and father [Madhukar] had been under tremendous pressure, as she was the breadwinner of the family. But now, the order has relieved us all."
Lalita Salve also underwent a hair transplant on her cheek to develop a beard. Salve was treated by renowned plastic surgeon Dr Rajat Kapur, one of the medical experts who, a few years back, had helped a man to change into a woman at JJ Hospital. After years of waiting, Lalit Kumar Salve (born as Lalita) on May 2018, finally felt like a man inside and out. Contrary to common perception, Lalit has biologically always been a man but was born with underdeveloped genitals that appeared more like a vagina, due to which he had been declared a woman on birth
Now that the surgery is over, Lalit Salve, will get benefits granted to a male constable after joining duty. Salve (on resumption of duty) will be treated as a male constable. Salve will get all benefits entitled to male constables after joining duty
After a series of legal and government battles, Maharashtra woman police officer Lalita Salve 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 in Mumbai. Here's his story