This Blog is for YOU...

If you are/were Gender Dysphoric - so as to know some from me and share some with me, and reaffirm that none of us is alone... To acknowledge that we have a treasure of insurmountable Courage, Strength and Hope in us. I have a feeling that we were given slightly higher quantities of those special gifts :-) [If you have a question to ask me, you could write it as a Comment to one of the posts, and either I would reply to it as a Comment itself, or probably, respond in one of the future posts on this blog]

If you have never been Gender Dysphoric - so as to understand what it means to have a Gender Identity Disorder. Of course, it primarily depends on whether you want to or not. If you don't, please do make a quiet exit and try not to be a nuisance.

If you're confused - so as to realize that everybody goes through a stage of confusion - the period could be short, or sometimes, very long. What is important is to acknowledge that being unsure until you're sure is as normal and as alright as night before day.

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If you're a human being - so as to find out for yourself whether you want to try to make the world a better place to live in, for every fellow human being, irrespective of their health, wealth, colour, race, gender, religion and any and every other line of division you can think of.

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And finally, this blog is for ME - so as to be able to make some difference somewhere by sharing my experiences, and along the way, slowly grow out of those anxieties and insecurities that have inhabited my life for over 2 decades. It is time to escort them to the door now!

Come, Join me on this journey!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Questions about a trip that ends with "Hello..."... "Life!"


1. Dr. Chettawut’s website (www. chet-plasticsurgery.com) says one needs to wire transfer (a way to send money internationally) 10% of the total surgery cost initially to block the date and the remaining has to be paid by the date of the surgery. Is it safe to do this wire transfer? And the rest of the amount – should it be carried along in cash?

From my experience with wire transfer, it is totally safe and reliable, if you choose a reputed bank to handle it for you, of course. I used ICICI and didn’t have much problem besides a slight hiccup when they rejected my form the first time and asked me to submit in written the reason for this transfer. After I did that, within a day (or two, perhaps) the transaction went through. You must keep a copy of the form/receipt/official confirmation from the bank’s side to email it to Dr. Chettawut, who is easily one of the most responsive doctors you will find, despite being more than fully occupied with making people come alive!


Coming to the second part of this money-and-life transaction, carrying the money in cash is an option as are a few others (explained on his website). My father and I, however, did not feel too comfortable with me carrying money worries along, that too, when it was probably the biggest amount we had ever spent in one go! The whole point of this trip was – to be free! And so, having faith, for no reason except faith, we had sent the rest of the money by wire transfer too (a few days before the surgery). And there were absolutely no hiccups this time! The integrity in Dr. Chettawut’s and his entire staff’s character is something I can personally vouch for…


2. What about food there? The person accompanying me is vegetarian while I am not. I don’t think either of us would be able to cook. What would you suggest?

Again, I’ll tell you what my mother, Bua and I did, and I guess you’ll be able to take a call for yourself. Firstly, Bangkok is only slightly more expensive than India is (okay, I can’t be sure about now, but going by the situation about 1.5 years back, it won’t burn your pocket), and you can easily find the most basic daily use stuff right next door to the Baan Siri Rama Hotel where most of the doctor’s patients stay (unless they’re 1st Class patients :-)). I mean, milk, yoghurt (in the widest range of flavours), bread, butter et al will be at an arm’s length from you.


And yes, we cooked – if you want to call putting Maggi noodles into boiling water, or placing sealed packs of MTR’s pre-cooked veggies into boiling water, or mixing Knorr soup powders with boiling water – cooking. Well, my mother and Bua, being expert cooks, did make dal and rice sometimes (and I have a faint memory of them preparing some vegetable on a one-off day), but that was not a regular thing. They took it easy, and I am so glad they did.


Being non-vegetarian, buying cooked food won’t be much of a struggle for you, although I am not sure how you would take to the flavour of their preparations. Give it a go, but considering that there would be a lot your body would be dealing with in any case, try not being too experimental. And as far as your companion is concerned, just make them believe that Maggi noodles, Knorr soups (or Maggi again) and MTR’s food items are amongst the choicest delicacies of the world… and you should be fine. :-)


3. How many clothes should I carry with myself?

Not too many. You will be in the hospital gown for 5 days of your stay. For the stay afterwards, you can keep a few (3-4) night gowns / loose skirts which you can keep getting laundered. It is not advisable to wear anything that is not roomy enough, since the posture you’d need to lay in, won’t endorse them. Keep a couple of dresses for your travel and one or two for the days before the surgery, if any.


4. My name was A (which is what my passport carries) but now, I have adopted the name B. What do I need to tell the doctor? Is there anything in particular that I need to take care of?

Since your passport bears ‘A’, you will have to travel both ways as ‘A’ and you must inform Dr. Chettawut to prepare all your documents (including letter for Visa application and Gender Change certificate) in the name of ‘A’. You can request him to not specify a social title (‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’) against the name if you so want.


Once you’re back from Bangkok, holding a priceless piece of paper that bestows you with the right to be officially recognized as a woman, you will go for the official name change and alterations in various documents (bank accounts, passport, voter ID, PAN card etc.) Everything, in due time! But right now, focus, just on the change that will effect this entire chain of changes… and brace yourself to meet LIFE!


5. How many days is the Thai VISA valid for?

Even though Thailand is one of the few countries in the world which allow you to get a Visa-on-Arrival, you will not be able to make use of this blessing because Visa-on-Arrival is given for merely 15 days, while you will need to be there for at least 3 weeks (I have this suspicion that this VISA has been crafted especially keeping in mind the bored men from across the world who wake up on a mundane morning to realize that one more day of that life and they would kill somebody… and hence, take the first flight to Bangkok to sprinkle their lives with a dash of ‘garam masala’ for a few days).

So, apply for a VISA to the Thai Embassy in India. It normally takes 3 working days to come through, and if I remember correctly, it is valid for over a month, which is more than good enough for you anyway.

I hope you have a safe journey, a pleasant trip and delightful baby steps thereafter! Take care… :-)

16 comments:

  1. Hi...
    I am sudha..
    I just wanted to ask you that, r u feeling now as a complete woman??And in life of woman monthly periods are very important??So r u following those monthly rules??what r u doing for experiencing periods??do you use sanitory napkins??

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  2. anita here..
    What kind of dresses you r using ??Means what kind of fashion?Do u use saree or chudidars or salawar kameez or jeans or skirts??Do u ever go for mehandi???

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  3. Sudha - Who/What is a complete woman? Is she defined by monthly cycles, sanitory napkins, or the dresses she wears?

    Anita - I'm still in the process of discovering my comfort zone when it comes to fashion and style.

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  4. wat abt the cost of the total procedure??
    from day1 to the last day(arrival in new delhi) including breast augmentation??
    wat abt the costs after SRS??
    wat abt dilation?? how long should it be dilated?

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  5. didi......
    i m just now 19 years old...
    from last three years i feel that there is girl inside me....
    when i see girl i only think "kash" i was a her......
    from three years.....there is a feeling inside me to wear girly clothes want long hairs and behave like girl...
    can u tell me what should i do now?...i m very much afraid of my mummy-pappa....though they are very good and practical.......

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  6. Anonymous1 - The cost would vary depending upon where you get the surgery done. Dr. Chettawut charged me 8,600 USD 1.5 years back, and that includes only vaginoplasty (no breast augmentation). That means around 4.5 lakhs today. You can check his website for the latest costs. The travel and stay costs about 70-80 thousand rupees.

    Hormones go on for life, so about 1000 rupees a month goes there. Apart from that, you will need to undergo laser hair removal which should cost anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 rupees totally (only face).

    Dilation has to be carried on for life too.


    Anonymous2 - You must go for a psychiatric evaluation to a minimum of 2 different psychiatrists and know whether or not you are Gender Dysphoric. If it comes out that you ARE, then start preparing for the change (if you'd want to) slowly. Settle down professionally, save money, gradually keep informing and preparing your parents. It's a lengthy process, but first, you need to be sure that you actually are psychologically and mentally female... It's natural to be afraid, but remember, YOU are not wrong. It could be nature's mistake, but not yours... So, just start working on correcting nature's mistake as soon as possible... All the Best!

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  7. Hi Gazal,
    I'm a journalist with the Hindustan TImes and we'd like to feature you for a series we're doing called Mumbai First. The idea is to celebrate the spirit of the city, and the people that make it what it is. One of the things that makes Mumbai what is is, is its spirit of inclusion. Is there an email address I can reach you at? Alternatively, you can email me at riddhi.s@gmail.com, so we can discuss this further. Thanks!

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  8. Just wondering, if a transperson is mentally of the opposite gender as the physical, and a psychiatrist certifies that the 'psychological disorder can be corrected by sex change', should the surgery not be called "Gender Correction Surgery"?!

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  9. Anonymous - Why not "Gender Amendment Surgery" or "Sex Rectification Surgery"? Really, why and how does it matter? These terms, these definitions - they're all for the books and those who read them. Those who represent these terms wouldn't give a damn about them as long as the repair work does get done!

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  10. hie...
    this is rahul...
    wanted to write sumthin fr ya...
    "A little HOPE"... hope is what drives everythin...
    i would tell u a story rather (wont bore u... jus a short one... :) )...
    long long time ago... there was a village... n that village was suffrin frm FEMINE... so ppl frm that village started migrating... so looking at this priest of that village church gor afraid that... if at this rate ppl continue migrating then the day would b near when whole village would b empty... so just to motivate them, he decided t conduct a prayer in the churchyard on comming sunday at 10:00 AM and asked them to carry a symbol of faith when they come for prayer... Finally the day arrivr, people started gatheing, some of them bought cross...some roseries... some f them carried bible... n so on... prayer started on time... and by the time the prayer got over... with a megical command or sumthing... it started raining, so they started saying its because of cross which we carried... some said its the work f bible... some said holy rosery showed its magic, but in middle of them... a 6 year old boy was standing holding an umbrella. So, one should have hope as that of that 6 year old.
    Hope is the most exciting thing in life and if you honestly believe that love is out there, it will come. And even if it doesn't come straight away there is still that chance all through your life that it will......
    U HOPED N U DID... :)
    (jus a silly write.. i kno... )
    my mail id defictionrahul@gmail.com
    HOPE to get a reply fr ya...
    adios...

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  11. Yes, makes sense :-) Point!!! By the way, nice blog. Good luck, hope your "hello life" stays happy always :-)

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  12. Rahul - Thanks for sharing the story and for your compliments! All the best to you too!

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  13. Anonymous - Thanks! Happiness to you too! :-)

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  14. Gazal,

    I absolutely adore you, your confidence and your voice. You know, every time I hear you sing "Yeh Hausala", I get goosebumps .. :-) You have no idea how many times I've thought about that song and got the energy to fight problems, find solutions, follow love and not hate.

    God bless you!

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  15. Can you please tell us your 'transition timetable'?
    Like when did you start growing your hairs,hormone therapy, electrolysis, etc and how soon(or late) the effects were visible
    And how long did it take for you to look 'passable'?

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  16. Tushar - Hi! I'm sorry for this rather late reply.

    Thanks for the wonderful compliments and the blessing! And also for reminding me about 'Ye Hausla'. Yes, it is a wonderful song to go back to, in trying times, and even otherwise. It's a beautiful composition :-)

    I wish you the very best of everything... Take care!

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Civility check done? :-)