Transgender activist commits suicide after gender reassignment surgery

Anannyah Kumari Alex was found dead in her apartment after months of dealing with the aftermath of “medical negligence” after receiving gender reassignment surgery.

Alex was reportedly a legend in her hometown of Kerala, India, where she was the city’s first-ever transgender radio jockey, professional makeup artist, and news anchor. She was also set to become the first transgender candidate for the legislative assembly.

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Days before her death, Alex gave an interview with a local media outlet explaining the issues she has dealt with since her gender reassignment surgery was performed at a private hospital called Renai Medicity.

She claimed to be the victim of “gross medical negligence” from the surgery performed in June 2020. “My private part looks like a piece of meat,” she said. “I want to conduct a re-surgery. I want justice.”

Police investigating her death said “death by suicide” seemed to be the likely cause of death. However, Alex’s friends say she was the victim of “institutional murder.”

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“We’re waiting for the postmortem report and analysis from the police officials,” said Saadiya. “She had achieved so much and dedicated her life to equality and justice. But her surgery had made her body very weak. She was unable to function properly,” said Heidi Saadiya, a friend of Alex’s.

In a separate interview, Alex told the media that she couldn’t “stand, sneeze, laugh, brush her teeth or even breathe properly.”

“The money for the surgeries are painstakingly made by many through sex work, pooling from here and there, and even begging,” she added. “Why are marginalized people like us being attacked like this for money?”

Roughly 500,000 transgender individuals are living in India amongst the total population of 1.3 billion, according to the Indian census.

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Following an autopsy conducted by a two-member expert panel, Kerala’s health and social justice ministry ordered a probe into Alex’s death. Health Minister Veena George said her office is forming an expert committee “to study issues related with sex reassignment surgery.”

Various LGBTQIA+ organizations have taken up Alex’s story. A local group in Kerala called Queerythm filed two separate police complaints about Renai Medicity hospital. One was to stop gender reassignment surgeries from taking place altogether.

Prijith PK, the president of Queerythm, said Alex was the victim of “organized exploitation in the name of sex reassignment surgery.”