Shabi was born male and known as M.K Giri joined the Marine Engineering Department of the Eastern Naval Command seven years ago. Last year she decided to finally achieve the gender identity which suited her body. She went through a sex reassignment surgery in Delhi and is now a woman. She has become India’s first transgender soldier who is asking valid questions to Government rules.
Although after being uncomfortable in the body she was born in, it took her a while to muster the courage to come out as a transgender. And when she tried to get consultation and help, the doctors in the Navy refused to help her.
In 2016, after waiting for long, she decided to contact doctors in Vizag and was diagnosed with ‘Gender Identity Disorder.’ She had no choice than to take leave for twenty-two days and get admit for a sex reassignment surgery in Delhi.
After her surgery, she came back to the naval base in Visakhapatnam. She was forced to reveal her sex change operation after she suffered a urinary tract infection. Despite her sex change, she alleged that she was ordered to stay in a male ward with three soldiers standing guard throughout the day.
“I was kept in a psychiatric ward for six months and was mentally harassed. The doctors tried to prove that I was mentally unfit to serve in the Navy but they failed,” she claimed.
“How can a ‘man’ the Indian Navy deemed fit for the job suddenly be declared unfit because of an organ change?”
After being discharged from the Navy psychiatric ward on August 12, she resumed her service as a woman though it took a while for people around her to get used to the change. Now, after the Indian Navy reportedly sent her case to the Ministry of Defense, seeking advice on the future course of action, she confronted her Divisional Officer (DO).
She said, “He confirmed it. When I requested to speak to the Commanding Officer, I was told he is not interested in talking to me.” She was obstructed to speak to the media by her DO, threatening her that she will be dismissed from her service since ‘women cannot work in defense service.’
According to the Indian Navy policies, there’s no place for a ‘transgender’ but she has now vowed to fight against such policies.
“I will go to the Supreme Court if I have to and fight for my rights. I am extremely upset at the decision of the Navy to discharge me and will take all legal options possible.”
“I have not lost my potential and still able enough to work in the Navy. I can still pull the trigger of a gun to shoot the enemy, why am I not fit enough to serve my country?”