Trigger warning: suicide, transphobia
Anannyah Kumari Alex, a 28-year-old trans woman was found dead at her Kochi residence, on the 20th of this month. Alex was found hanging in her bedroom, by her roommate. Apparently, she had moved in just a few weeks ago.
The police had reported it as a suspected case of suicide.
Alex happens to be India’s first transgender radio jockey and the first trans person to contest elections in Kerala’s legislative assembly. Earlier this month, she had alleged the failure of her gender reassignment surgery, performed at a private hospital in Kochi, Renai Medicity.
She had been suffering serious health issues since then. Alex’s surgery was performed in June 2019. Earlier this month, she had raised the issue of her physical discomfort following the surgery through online media.
She revealed that following the surgery, her private parts were in a bad condition. She couldn’t even perform her day-to-day activities due to the pain and discomfort it caused her.
To quote her, “My private parts bear no resemblance to what I wished for. Instead, it looks like a cut piece of meat. I must use at least 8 to 12 pads a day due to heavy bleeding. It can become septic at any time.”
One of her friends said that she was preparing for another surgery in Delhi and was raising funds to do the same. Alex had been contacting the hospital authorities for quite some time, but they had turned hostile.
Many members of the trans community believe that Alex was forced to endure gross medical negligence and this has resulted in her untimely death.
Her father, S Alexander, said that she was facing severe health issues after her surgery and was incapacitated as a result. She could neither sit nor laugh. She couldn’t go to work either and was struggling to make ends meet.
After taking part in a protest against the hospital, he added that his child needs justice as she had gone through a lot of trouble and pain. Several people from the trans community had made serious allegations against the doctor who had performed her surgery.
They shared similar experiences of being wronged.
Another source cites that Alex had fallen severely ill a few days after the surgery. Her friend took her to the hospital, but the doctor refused to see her. Moreover, they pushed her out, unsympathetically.
In order to proceed for a re-surgery, Alex and her advocate had been trying to access her treatment records from the hospital. Despite their constant efforts, the hospital refused to hand these over to them.
Following these events, Kerala’s health minister, Veena George, had ordered a probe into these allegations. The Indian Medical Assoication (IMA) has also declared an investigation into the allegations. The IMA’s team will be headed by Dr Roy Abraham.
The hospital had refused all the allegations made by Alex. It issued a statement claiming that she was completely satisfied with her surgery when it was done, but that she returned six months later with complaints of difficulty in urination.
After diagnosis, it was found that she required another minor surgery. They also said that she was completely aware of the process and the need for such follow-up treatments. They maintained that there was no medical negligence from their side.
But, the police have now stopped all such surgeries from being performed at the hospital, following complaints made by a Kerala-based transgender people’s association, Queerythm.
Gender affirmation surgeries (clinically known as sex reassignment surgeries) started being performed in Kerala in 2017. Before that, many people had to choose hospitals in Delhi or Mumbai to opt for such procedures.
The Kerala government had formed a policy back in 2015, which allowed members of the transgender community to undergo gender affirmation surgeries in government hospitals, without paying a hefty sum of money.
Despite this, many private hospitals used this as an opportunity to make profits. The government of Kerala has now decided to bring a protocol for such surgeries in the state, heeding the demands of the LGBTQIA+ community and to prevent such unfortunate incidents from occurring again.