Faulty Sex Reassignment Surgery led to the Death of Kerala’s Transwoman, Exposes Loopholes

Anannyah Kumari Alex, 28-year-old trans woman from Kollam district, Kerala who was a makeup artist, stage anchor and radio jockey was found dead by suicide on 20 July 2021 in her apartment. The suicide was the result of prolonging aches in her body parts after she had gone through Sex Reassignment Surgery last year. Her death also reveals the status of SRS in India.

It was June 14, 2020, when Anannyah went through her Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) at Renai Medicity by Dr. Arjun Asokan. Transgender people go through SRS to feel liberated and do justice to their bodies, feelings and choices, but Anannyah’s surgery invited unexpected pain in her body parts that took her life.

Anannyah was not killing herself in pain silently, but she was fighting for justice. In an interview with a media outlet called Mathrubhumi, before she died by suicide, she mentioned that, “I have to change nearly 8 to 12 sanitary pads each day, I have bowel movements 4-5 times daily. My stomach is full of scars. My vagina is sliced like meat.” The pain was so intense that she was not able to work and stand properly. Police said her body was found hanging from the fan in the bedroom.

According to media reports, Anannyah visited the hospital many times for the pain she was going through, but she was mishandled and not permitted to meet the concerned doctor. While talking to The Cue news, S Alexander, father of Anannyah said that she was pushed away by the hospital authorities twice when she tried hard to meet the doctor. 

Anannyah’s death did not go well with her partner Jiju, who was living with her for a couple of months and died by suicide in his friend’s apartment. Media reports claim that he was in shock and in huge pain due to the death of Anannyah. He was living with one of his friends near Thykoodam after the death of Anannyah. The unnatural death occurred when he was alone as his friend was out to buy something.

Although the Health Minister of Kerala, Veena George, has ordered a probe into the death of Anannyah, the hospital where the SRS of Anannyah was done refuted that the surgery done was faulty.

Anannyah was multi-talented- she was a make-up artist, anchor and had also filed nomination papers as a candidate for the Democratic Social Justice Party (DSJP) from the Vengara constituency in Malappuram district. However, according to The Indian Express report, she withdrew her nomination as she claimed that she was receiving death threats. That is why she even requested people not to vote for the party.

Despite her many talents, the physical struggle following her SRS also led to a financial crisis when she failed to work properly, claims her father.

Anannyah’s death is not an isolated incident. In January 2020, a 26-year-old person identified as Palak Tewari hanged herself in Indore. According to news reports, preliminary investigation by police revealed that after the SRS she was facing problems in her urinary system and went into depression as the surgery was a total failure.

It is a matter of concern and strict action should be taken against those who show such callousness while performing Sex Reassignment Surgery. Transgender people are not treated well in society and are often disowned by families, with little to no source of income for few years before they find some source of earning. While they struggle to make ends meet, they go through psychological pain due to social stigma associated with the community.

On top of that, they spend huge amount of money (between Rs. 3 to 5 lakh) for SRS and also on therapies that are necessary for a person who is undergoing SRS. When things go wrong after spending so much money and time while under financial stress, it multiplies their miseries which leads to suicide.

A request was submitted to the Social Welfare Department three years ago regarding the inclusion of treatment and surgery facilities at government hospitals. However, there has been no development so far on the same.

Anil A, who is a member of the Kerala State Transgender Justice Board, expressed her condolences by saying that death is really sad and shocking. “Although many private hospitals claim to be experts in SRS, but there are no rules to monitor it. The state needs to frame a protocol for conducting such surgeries and also put in place an ethics committee to monitor and evaluate sex reassignment surgery,” she told The Indian Express.

Recently, the Transgender community also staged a protest in front of the hospital, Renai Medicity, to seek justice for Anannyah.

Bilal Khan