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India’s transgender pilot 

ISP Thiruvananthapuram Bureau

It was Adam Harry’s childhood dream to become a pilot. He started his preparations early but in later phases destiny brought him near to a roadblock. He was just around 10 years old when he took the first flight and his experience made him decide to become a pilot. 

Adam Harry from Kerala was sent to South Africa by his parents to train himself as a pilot. It was a tough time for the parents as they took out loans to train their children. Their support for their son came to an abrupt end when Harry came out with his gender priorities as a transgender. 

Parents stopped funding Harry’s aviation training fee. By then, Harry could only complete his Private Pilot Licence (PPL) which would entitle him to fly only planes for hobby and not as a commercial pilot. He was disheartened and came back to his home in India. It was then that the Kerala government supported him and helped him finish his Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) course in the year 2020. 

It was not the end of troubles for him. The aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) declared him unfit to fly planes since he was undergoing therapy for his gender correction.  Upon medical examination it was declared by Harry that was on hormone therapy medication which suppresses female secondary sex characteristics for gender transitioning.  The medical assessment report issued by the Institute of Aerospace Medicine explained that persons who took these medicines would suffer from gender dysphoria which refers to the unease caused by a perceived mismatch between biological sex and gender identity and it causes depression and anxiety. 

Harry was asked by DGCA to seek a review after he completes his therapy. Adam was forced to undergo the medical examination as a female candidate as this was the gender assigned to him at birth and there was no provision for a non-binary gender in the DGCA Application form for the medical exam. Harry alleged that he was asked uncomfortable questions regarding his physical preferences and how he would marry someone. He even raised written objections to the treatment he received during the examination. However, DGCA replied that they were following best international practices in medical examination to clear the licence of a commercial pilot. 

24-year-old Harry is in South Africa now and keeps himself engaged with awareness campaigns and working towards creating sensitivity towards LGBTQ rights. He awaits a day when he can fly in Indian skies. 

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