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10 December 2023

Nepal actor welcomes home transgender daughter


A top Nepali comedy actor told Sunday how he helped his son become one of the country's first post-operative transexuals and a "perfect lady" with a ê26,000 sex change.

Santosh Pant said 18-year-old Caitlin, born as Pratik, was recovering at home in Kathmandu after successful surgery in Thailand last month.

"My son from childhood used to say that his body and soul were not matching each other. He had a male body but he said that his soul was of a female," Pant told AFP.

"He had been asking us for his gender reassignment and we were convinced by his logic. He told us that he would transform into a perfect lady if the transplant was carried out in early age."

There are only thought to be a handful of post-operative transexuals in Nepal, a deeply conservative, mainly Hindu country that nonetheless has some of the most progressive policies on sexuality issues in Asia.

"He is now 18 and a delay in surgery, according to him, could have made him look ugly. We did not want to see him sink into depression and took him to Thailand last month," said Pant, 51.

The actor, a household name in Nepal who ruled the airwaves for more than 10 years from the mid-1990s with the hugely-popular sit-com "Hijo Aja Ka Kura", said Caitlin plans to travel to the US to study pharmacy.

Caitlin, who had hormone therapy for a year before the operation, was not available for interview.

But her mother Pratbha told the Nepali-language Kantipur daily newspaper: "After the death of our elder daughter in accident, we have always been expecting a daughter in the family.

"When she was in my womb, I prayed for a daughter. My dream has come true after 18 years and I am very happy."

Sunil Pant, Nepal's first openly gay parliamentarian, who runs the Blue Diamond Society pressure group, described gender reassignment as a "new concept" in Nepal.

"Two of our members have undergone reassignment and I have heard there are some others," he said.

"I am very happy for the courage and support demonstrated by the Pant family. I would like to congratulate the new girl for being successful in transferring her personal conviction into a reality."