Over the last week, newspapers and TV channels across India have widely reported the case of a 21-year-old student who has moved the Bombay High Court seeking permission to undergo a sex-change operation.
Bidhan Barua was to be operated on this month at a prominent Mumbai hospital. After threats from his family, the hospital refused until they got a legal go-ahead. Bidhan wants to get operated as soon as possible because he wants to be with his partner. His father however believes the decision is “not just a personal one”, and insists Bidhan gets the permission of his grandparents and uncles. One newspaper quotes him as saying, ‘I gave birth to a son, not a eunuch’.
Bidhan’s decision is an intensely personal one, and I am full of admiration for this young man who has found the courage to come out into the open. Not easy in a society which is so quick to dismiss People-Not-Like-Us. And God help you if there is some sexual aspect to it. My heart goes out to his family in Guwahati which no doubt is coping with awkward, even cruel, questions from neighbors and friends.
What I find appalling however are the comments I hear around me, some from fellow journalists. – ‘Now, how should we title the studio discussion? Daddy let me be a girl. No. I gave birth to a boy, not a eunuch!’’
Another comment, “Where will he go for breasts? He is flat!” Upon pointing out the sheer bigotry, I am told ,’Oh come on, how would YOU feel if your child wanted to do THAT?.”
I am the first to admit that I will be less than enthusiastic. However it is finally an individual’s choice and a watershed moment for that one family. What gives any one of us the right to pass judgment? Or comment on their lives?