Navy sacks India's first transgender sailor
The Indian Navy has sacked Mahesh Giri, a transgender sailor, for breaching recruitment conditions and undergoing a sex change operation. When Mahesh was appointed seven years earlier, he was a man. But years after feeling like "a woman trapped in a man's body", he underwent a gender reassignment surgery last year. Mahesh, who is nowadays known as "Sabi", says will fight for her rights.
The tale of Sabi
Sabi joined the marine engineering wing of the navy as "an Indian male citizen" in 2010. For four years, she served on INS Eksila. Finally, after a lengthy psychological battle, she decided on a sex change surgery and took leave in October'16 for it. She rejoined and continued acting normally, but was forced to reveal her new gender identity after a urinary tract infection.
'Had a prison-like experience for six months'
According to Sabi, her superiors then sent her to a naval hospital for psychiatric treatment and kept her in the male ward for six months. "When the doctors there were unable to prove that I was mentally ill, they finally discharged me."
What does the navy have to say?
The navy discharged her from duty on October 6 under the clause of 'Service No Longer Required' after the defence ministry's approval. The gender change breached recruitment regulations and employment criteria, it said. Some officers claimed Sabi had even got married and had a child. She won't get pension now either; pension is granted only after 15 years of service.
What's next for Sabi?
This is the first such case in the Indian forces; though women are allowed, they are still restricted to specific positions. Only men are appointed as soldiers, sailors, and airmen in lower ranks. Transgenders aren't allowed either. Sabi has called it "sheer torture and horrible violation of rights". "I am not a thief or terrorist," she says. She plans to now explore legal options.