Why Foreigners Are Coming To India For Sex-change Surgery

By: Natasha Mahesh, 2016-05-09 09:30:00.0Category:  Developments
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Live Mint had reported that a steadily increasing number of transgenders are travelling to India for sex-change surgeries, which are cheaper than those in their homelands. Former soldier Betty Ann Archer finally flew to New Delhi to complete her gender transition. Born Dale Archer, the 64-year-old American said she felt trapped in the wrong body right from the start. She recalls secretly trying on her mother’s dresses as a boy—much to the horror of her conservative military father. According to industry experts, the increasing number of transgenders are travelling to socially conservative India for such procedures, which are cheaper than those in their homelands and with no waiting lists. Some are even choosing India, which has traditionally shunned its own transgender community, over leading sex-change destination Thailand which is regarded as more accepting on this issue.

In November, Archer found herself at the Olmec Centre, which she picked over clinics in Thailand which she felt were “just a bit too expensive”. “This is affordable. This is an option that some transgender people can look at and not have to kill themselves because they can’t afford it,” said Archer, who paid about $6,000, a fifth of the price back home, and said India’s conservative views on transgenders had not been an issue when deciding to come.

Olmec founder and plastic surgeon Narendra Kaushik said he operates on up to 200 mostly local patients a year. For up to $22,000, Olmec provides the treatment, but also accommodation, airport shuttles and post-operative care that includes shopping trips and visits to the Taj Mahal and other tourist favourites. But Kaushik said he was also seeing increasing numbers of foreigners: Westerners from countries such as the UK, US, and Australia, seeking lower costs and those from developing countries wanting better quality care than they receive at home. The number of foreign nationals having such surgeries has jumped from between five and 10 to as many as 20 a year, Kaushik said, predicting the figure would continue to rise. In addition, Indian surgeons are also developing their own techniques for transgender operations, including for female-to-male surgeries, which are complex and less widely available, according to industry experts.

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