Hyderabad’s doctor becomes first transperson to join MD in Emergency

Hyderabad: Dr Ruth Paul John Koyyala, MBBS, will be the first transperson to get admission into the MD Emergency Medicine at ESI Hospital. She is currently working as a medical officer at the state-run Osmania General Hospital (OGH) in the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) section that deals with HIV/AIDS.

Hailing from a modest farming family in Khammam, Dr Koyyala, went through a long struggle to be able to complete her MBBS on merit.

The 28-year-old, who has been living in Hyderabad since coming out to her mother 8 years ago, has faced humiliation since childhood for being different.

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She completed her MBBS from Malla Reddy Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad.

“It has been my dream since I was 8 to become a doctor. I studied hard and struggled at every level because of how people treated me. After completing my MBBS in 2018, at least 20 hospitals rejected me. They looked at my appearance and the mention of transgender in my resume,” Dr Koyyala, was quoted by the Indian Express.

Things started to change in 2020 when she, along with another transwoman doctor, Dr Prachi Rathore, were both posted as medical officers at Mitr – USAID’s transgender clinic in Hyderabad.

“Though it was a part-time job of three days a week with a four-hour work shift, this was our bread and butter,” said Dr Koyyala, adding that they were grateful to TSACS (Telangana State Aids Control Society) and the administration of OGH for their present job.

Dr Koyyala had qualified for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG) in 2021 and was denied a seat under the trans category, and instead was shortlisted for counselling under the female category.

She was informed by the authorities at the Dr Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences (KNUHS) in Warangal, Telangana, that her MBBS certificates and identities as per government documents were mismatched.

“I explained to them that I am a transwoman though my MBBS degree and other certificates had a male name. I shared with them my transgender ID certificate given by the Telangana government and yet they included me under the female category,” said Dr Koyyala.

Owing to the efforts of Dr B Nagender, Superintendent at OGH, who initiated a campaign to help Dr Koyyala pay her fees, a total of Rs 2.5 lakh was paid at the time of the admission.

In a matter of 24 hours, the doctors and staff at OGH contributed Rs 1 lakh and the balance amount of Rs 1.5 lakh was covered by the Helping Hand Foundation (HHF), a non-governmental public health organisation in Hyderabad.

The 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court led to the recognition of the transgender community as ‘third gender’ and held that they were entitled to fundamental rights under the Constitution of India.