Meet Sabi Giri, Indian Navy's first transgender sailor

Sabi-Giri Photograph:( Facebook )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 31, 2017, 09.34 AM (IST)

A transgender sailor of the Indian Navy approached the Delhi High Court to challenge an order of the Navy removing her from service because she underwent a sex change operation. The Navy considers Manish Giri (now known as Sabi) guilty of breaching service rules and eligibility criteria for his employment as a Sailor in the Indian Navy.

The Navy, in its press release, stated, “The Indian Navy has discharged Manish Giri, a naval sailor evoking the clause of Service No Longer Required under the Navy Regulations. The serving sailor who underwent sex reassignment surgery at a private facility whilst on leave was administratively discharged from the Service." 

On Monday, the high court said that Navy can punish her for indiscipline, but at the same time, it needs to accommodate her. "The petitioner can give up a claim for the job of a sailor and may accept a clerical position so that the family, comprising aged parents, the individual's wife, and child, need not suffer," the court said.

Sabi Giri, born Manish Kumar Giri, was enrolled as a young sailor in the Indian navy in 2010 at the age of 18 years. Giri always wanted to change into a woman's body since "she was old enough to understand gender". A few years into service, Manish decided to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and became a woman named Sabi.

Sabi had initially approached the doctors within the Navy at Visakhapatnam where she was posted, but they refused to help her. She then decided to consult a private psychiatrist and psychologist who diagnosed her with Gender Identity Disorder. But Sabi took a leave without informing the Navy and undewent the sex change operation in Delhi. She reported on duty after 15 days, but did not tell anyne about her surgery. 

Sabi's condition came to light when she developed a unirnary infection. As Navy's doctors didn't know how to handle this case, Sabi was admitted to the psychiatric ward.

After several rounds of psychiatric and other medical examinations, Sabi did join back, this time as a woman, but the Navy had by now sent her case file to the Defence Ministry seeking their comments and action that needed to be taken in the case. The action was necessitated by the fact that females are not allowed to work as soldiers per the Navy rules and regulations. 

Sabi claimed that she was suffering from gender identity issues since 2011 and when she told her parents about it, they forced her to marry a woman. She also claimed that she was absent from service without leave several times as she suffered bouts of depression, owing to her gender identity issues.

Now her case is listed for further hearing on November 23 as the court said that "Here is a person struggling with gender identity. Had she suppressed the condition and continued, it would have been dangerous. It could have been fatal. Think about it and come back." 

Story highlights

She had claimed that she was suffering from gender identity issues since 2011 and when she told her parents, they forced her to marry a woman.

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