Hello, I am fundraising for my Indian trans friend from a marginalized background to study at UCL! Here's what Rishi has to say:
Hello! I am Rishikesh Raut (Rishi), a 23-year-old Dalit Transgender activist from Pune, India. I have recently been accepted into the MA Human Rights program at University College London (UCL), which ranks as the 8th best university in the world, and I need your help to attend it. With your support, I will be one of the first Indian Transgender Individuals to study at the prestigious University College London, where Mahatma Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagoreji studied.
Here are details of the fees and living expenses:
The total tuition fee is £26,600 sterling pounds, equivalent to ₹25,15,873 Indian Rupees.
- Visa Costs: £400
- Course materials: £208
- International Health Surcharge: £475 for one year
- Living expenses: £17000
- Clothes, Health, Food and Data: £3,820
- Traveling: £752
- Emergency expenses incl. rent insurance: £1000
- Airfare (round trip): £700
Total = £50,955 or ₹49,04,980 or $61,692
About my work as a trans-rights activist:
Since 2016, I have been working with the LGBTQIA+ community in Pune. I have been working towards creating safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community, advocating for Queer and Transgender rights, and sensitizing schools, colleges, and corporate offices. I have also engaged in relief work for my Transgender-Hijra community for food essentials and health emergencies. I have been featured in Vogue India, ‘Mix It Up’ Disney-Star music video, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, CNNNEWS18, Pune Mirror, TheQuint, TheWireIn, SIEGESSAULE, “Steer-Your-Type” documentary by Goethe Institut, “What do LGBTQ Indians think?” Youtube video, among others.
I have also worked with the Mist LGBTQ+ Foundation in Pune, helping create safe and creative spaces, conducting Diversity and Inclusion workshops and assisting transgender people access affordable health insurance. In addition, I recently worked at the Transgender Health Clinic as a peer counselor, helping the Transgender-Hijra population work on their health holistically.
Where I come from:
I come from a lower-class Dalit family, my mother runs a small ironing shop, and my father is a personal driver. My mother has completed her education till 5th grade and my father till 11th grade. Me living my truth as a Transgender femme person has been extremely difficult and abusive.
I have been working various full-time jobs since I was 17 years old while studying. I have been discriminated against and alienated at all of my jobs, which has been really tough and isolating. I have also supported myself in a Transphobic and Homophobic household, where I was put through hypnotherapy and conversion therapy; however, I survived it and stayed strong. I have had to use my job earnings to pay for my college expenses, mental health, and medical expenses. Unfortunately, because of this, despite the various jobs, I haven't been able to save money. In October 2021, I escaped death after being assaulted by a group of transphobic men for merely existing. Life hasn’t been the same; I am always on my tiptoes, worried about my safety in public spaces.
Research interests & life goals:
Studying at the University College of London will be a dream come true for me, where I can excel academically, and it will help me pioneer my area of work. I will work on Human Rights through an intersectional lens of Caste and Gender Identity - something that needs a lot of work right now, especially looking at nonbinary gender identities and decolonizing gender identities and sexual orientation of the Indian population at various levels. My goal is to come up with systemic and policy-level changes that will help transgender, Hijra and queer people on the ground in India. I plan to dedicate my life to uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community in India. Help with community building, empowering the future LGBTQIA+ Leaders, and keeping the anti-caste dialogue central to the queer rights movement in India.
I am in need of your help:
I am reaching out to you for your love and support. I am out of options to fund this dream. I received my offer in the last week of June, and there are no available scholarships right now that are accepting applications, especially scholarships that include Transgender individuals. I cannot take out an education loan as Fifty Lakh rupees is a considerable amount that I won’t be able to pay back working in the social sector, especially with no job security anywhere in the world as a transgender person.
I sincerely request you to support my dream, contribute generously, and help uplift the Transgender community. Please connect me to organizations, clubs, companies, trusts, and individuals who can help with financial aid or a scholarship. Please share the campaign widely in your networks and on your social media.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at rishikeshraut0123[at the rate] gmail.com or on Instagram where my handle name is dalittransrish.