For Aakruti, life really started at 29. A project manager at a charitable trust in Vadodara, Aakruti, previously known as Ajay, recently underwent a complete sex reassignment surgery.
An orphan, who had to drop out of school, Aakruti says she is looking forward to social acceptance, love and marriage. She hopes to be an inspiration for many others like her who are "trapped in their bodies".
She had always considered herself to be a woman trapped in a man's body and was eyeing a sex change since 2009. With little means, she wanted to do so at the state-run SSG Hospital (SSGH) initially, but with dillydallying at the SSGH she decided to undergo sex change at a private hospital.
According to surgeons this is probably the first full sex change surgery in the state. Aakruti who underwent several procedures in the past one-and-half year to become a woman attributes her desire to change her sex to her hatred of men.
She says she has worked hard to achieve her true gender identity. "My parents were separated long before they passed away. I always lived with my mother and she was my role model. I knew I just wanted to be like her and I have always felt like a girl, a woman, since my childhood. I am happy I was able to raise the funds for my medical treatment and achieve my true gender identity at an early age."
Aakruti said that she had already changed her details including her name and gender in documents like her election card and Aadhar card. "I am looking forward to live the life like a woman," she said. Aakruti added that her struggle to ensure that others like her got the SRS facility at government hospitals would continue. "I needed to be clear with my identity to focus on them," she said.
Aakruti says that many people in India are trapped in their own bodies, but fear the social stigma. "There are so many people in the country who feel trapped in their bodies - men who know they are women and women who feel like men. But there is a lot of social stigma and so it takes a lot of process and counselling to accept the fact," says Aakruti.