One would think that with the scrapping of the draconian Section 377 that criminalised same-sex relationships, India had marched towards progressive ideals and values which are inclusive of the LGBTQ community. But what has been happening with Rishikesh Raut, a 22-year-old non-binary transgender person from Pune, is so harrowing, it makes one wonder if any progress has been made at all.
Raut, whose pronouns are ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘theirs’, had started a fundraiser on the platform Ketto in March this year, hoping to raise money for their gender-affirming care. The queer activist even shared the cost breakup on the platform, explaining that the total requirement is that of INR 7,00,000.
Earlier this month, when they shared their fundraiser for a second time on Instagram, it led to a lot of attention, some of it absolutely hate-filled and transphobic. It has impacted Raut’s mental health immensely, but they are continuing the fight.
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Speaking with indianexpress.com, they said it has been eight days now that they have been at the receiving end of relentless hate. They have been attacked, bullied, abused, and some people have even suggested they end their life.
“It has been really difficult; I never thought people would go to such an extent to make me feel bad about myself. When I started the fundraiser in March, I got some love and raised around 1,00,000 rupees. But then, the second wave of pandemic hit and I stopped it,” Raut said, adding that they had started to financially help other transgender people in the interim, especially those in requirement of ration kits, and some with botched surgeries.
In the Pride Month, Raut was hopeful of restarting the fundraiser and reaching their goal. But they had never expected the trolling. “In the past, I would delete the comments, knowing that it happens to a lot of visibly trans and queer people. But this time, there were too many of them.
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“I think it all stems from lack of awareness and transphobia. [All of this hurt] is caused by people who cannot accept that a marginalised person would be strong and confident. They have said all these horrible things to break me. I am proud of myself and they do not like that,” they told this outlet.
Unfortunately for Raut, their family isn’t too supportive either. They hail from a Bahujan family, where their mother runs a small ironing shop and their father is a driver. Raut has also been subjected to casteist comments from people.
“I have received a lot of support and love from other queer people online, and had it not been for them, I would probably not have been alive — I have depression and anxiety. My parents are homophobic and transphobic, and they have even put me through conversion therapy.”