Being a technician in an Operating theatre is harsh. Apart from requiring to be continually alert, OT technicians are privy to the disturbing sights of the human anatomy and have to remain unfazed through all the medical procedures.
In a first, two transwomen in Kolkata assisted doctors across several procedures in an OT.
Jiya Das and Debdatta Biswas, helped sterilise medical equipment and kept patient trolley ready. On the list of procedures, was an appendectomy, a caesarean section, surgery on a fractured finger and a hydrocele surgery. The two observed the proceedings, assisted senior attendants, and kept track of the devices monitoring the patient’s vital parameters.
A gender rights meet at the American Center in Kolkata in 2017, where several activists and organisations discussed the idea of engaging qualified transgenders into various courses, was the beginning of this journey for them.
Subsequently, Dr Satadal Saha, the founder of School for Skills and Allied Health Sciences (SSAHS) which conducts paramedical courses, offered to train the two for free as a pilot project. They joined the batch of 48 students who began the course last July, at the Panskura unit of SSAHS.
Both women and are academically strong, and this 6-month internship will help them with hands-on experience. Dr Saha endorses their focus and commitment, and told the Times of India they will make caring, compassionate and competent health workers. He is also happy with the success of the pilot project and plans to continue with it.
Jiya had to fight adversity right from the beginning—she worked as a dancer, to support her family of four after her father had to undergo heart surgery. She toured the interiors of Bihar with a dance troupe and was left very vulnerable after the tour.
Debdatta has a postgraduate degree and would support her ailing parents via private tuitions. Stepping into the OT for the first time, she was full of excitement, and optimistically hopes that over time, she can get more exposure, and become a competent OT technician.
The two transwomen started their internship on Tuesday, at Care and Cure Nursing Home, Barasat, whose chief surgeon is Dr Tapan Jyoti Banerjee. He spoke of the commitment of Jiya and Debdatta as well.
The victory of sorts, of the transgenders, has made organisations and activists optimistic. These two transwomen were scouted by Koushik Hore, a queer rights activist, via his program called Sathrangi.
Namit Bajoria, the founder of the Kutchina Foundation, is also helping the transgender duo by speaking to city hospitals to organise a decent stipend for their internship, and absorb them once the internship ends.
Jiya and Debdatta overcame several odds, to start a career. This grit and determination and subsequent victory should be the stimulus and inspiration to others from the transgender community.