Sabbie was discharged from the Indian Navy after she transitioned. Photo: Supplied/Gaylaxy
An Indian sailor was discharged from the Navy after she transitioned, because women are not allowed to serve in the armed forces below an officer grade.
Sabbie joined the Marine Engineering Department of the Indian Navy in 2010 and transitioned after a few years of service.
She took leave in 2016 to undergo gender affirming surgery and returned to work only 15 days later.
An unnamed source told India Today that Navy officials recommended Sabbie’s discharge from the Navy. Until her discharge she will be performing lighter duties because women are not allowed to complete seafaring duties.
‘We have recommended her discharge from service and proceedings in this regard have been initiated and she would quit soon,’ the source said.
But Sabbie claimed the Navy’s treatment of her after her transition was not pleasant.
Not long after she returned to work she contracted a urinary tract infection. It was after having treatment for the UTI that doctors discovered she had transitioned.
‘I was kept in the psychiatric ward for six months as they did not know how to handle to case,’ she told Gaylaxy.
‘They were confused and were planning to initially discharge me from service on medical grounds by pointing that I was suffering from depression or some other mental illness and was not fit for service.’
Sabbie was kept in the men’s section of the psychiatric ward under heavy, round-the-clock guard until she underwent psychological evaluation in Kolkata.
The doctors agreed she had gender dysphoria but was fit to return to duties. She was discharged from the hospital and went back to work in April this year.
The decision to discharge Sabbie from the Navy has upset her greatly, as she hoped to build a naval career.
‘I was selected based on my talent in the Navy, but I am being discharged due to my gender. Where will I go?’ she said.
Women and the military
The Indian Armed Forces allowed women to take up combat roles last year in a five year trial. Women are now allowed to serve as short service commission officers and fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
Tamil Nadu in the country’s south east, became the first state to accept trans women as cadets in the Home Guard. In 2014, six hijras became the first to join as paramilitary officers in a government initiative to intergrated LGBTI people into the mainstream.