Zahad was in the middle of a gender reassignment procedure to become a man in India ’s Kerala state when he and his partner decided they wanted a family. At that point, the 23-year-old’s breasts had been removed and he was undergoing hormone therapy that was deepening his voice, producing a moustache, and making his body more muscular. Next was the removal of his female reproductive organs. But Zahad and his partner’s desire for a child led him to pause his transitioning treatment and try for a baby. Zahad, who goes by one name, was born a girl but identifies as a man. Partner Ziya Pavel, 21, was born a boy and is transitioning to become a woman. The transgender couple, who live in the city of Kozhikode, have became India’s first to have a baby. Zahad gave birth to a healthy, 2.9kg baby on Wednesday, a few weeks before her due date in early March. New mum Pavel said in an Instagram post that she shed “tears of happiness”. Breast milk from the hospital milk bank will be used to feed their family’s new arrival. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ziya Paval (@paval19) Zahad and Pavel had decided they wanted a family together after dating for two years but knew adoption, given their situation, would have been fraught with problems. As Zahad still had his ovaries and uterus, the couple thought it would be easier if he paused his gender reassignment treatment so he could conceive. “I felt so strange and weird in my body as my tummy grew bigger and bigger,” Zahad told This Week in Asia on Tuesday. “But we knew we wanted a baby and for me it was a chance to be both a mother, in giving birth, and the father once my transition is complete.” Zahad is from a Christian family. His mother, after initial reluctance, has accepted his new identity and the pregnancy. Pavel has not been so lucky. Her Muslim parents and siblings shunned her at an early age, preventing her from pursuing her passion for classical dancing, which she now teaches at a local transgender centre. Pavel recalls how relatives would cite Koran passages, warning of hellish consequences in the afterlife for “people like me”. “They conjured up all these awful images of the punishments I will get but none of that matters to me. I knew who I was. I am happy with Zahad and even happier now that I am going to be the mother of a baby,” Pavel told Indian media. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ziya Paval (@paval19) The couple are well aware of some of the difficulties that lie ahead. Pavel’s dance classes do not pay well, nor does Zahad’s job in a local supermarket. When they go out they are used to getting strange looks, so were hesitant to post images of their pregnancy photo shoot on Instagram. But nevertheless, there is no coyness in the pictures. Pregnant Indian women tend to cover their tummies demurely with a large dupatta (scarf) but that was not how Zahad chose to be photographed. The images of Zahad’s naked belly in a variety of dramatic poses with Pavel have been widely shared on social media, drawing both praise and criticism. The transgender Indian demigod ‘bringing Hinduism back’ Attitudes towards India’s estimated two million transgender people have been changing gradually for the better, although progress varies hugely from state to state. Transgender people have become news anchors, mayors, chat show hosts and beauty queens. Kerala, in particular, has promoted several pro-transgender policies including reserving a certain number of government jobs for people who have changed sex. Now that their baby has arrived, Zahad and Pavel will decide on a time to resume their hormone treatment to finish the transition. Zahad is clear about one thing. It is all very well conceiving, being pregnant, and giving birth, but now the baby has arrived, he is officially a dad.