Unlike any other student pursuing a graduation degree in engineering after scoring more than 90% in diploma course, Banu is not sure if her present financial condition would permit her to finish her course.
Grace Banu, was the first transgender person to get an engineering seat in Tamil Nadu. But today, the third year student of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) department in Sri Krishna College, Arrokonam finds herself at crossroads. "I do not have money to survive for the next one and a half years of my college," she says.
Although, she got through a private college after gaining a seat in Anna University via lateral entry in 2013, college fees did not pose a problem as the college authorities decided to waive it.
But Banu needs money to pay university exam fees and for her daily expenses including food and accommodation.
Learning about her situation, Sinthu Govindaswamy, a business consultant for an IT company decided to launch an online campaign to raise money to relieve Banu of her troubles and so far the campaign has received a considerable response.
"I would like to get a monthly stipend to cover my expenses. My family does not support me any manner. I can’t lead a life of dignity without raising some money," she says.
Until now, Banu had managed with her meagre savings and a sum of Rs 70,000 rupees which she had borrowed from friends.
As most landlords would not rent houses to transgender people, she is forced to stay far from college. The 60 rupees she has to spend daily for travelling has started being a constraint for her.
Banu had been born as a boy and was rejected by her family in Thoothukudi district when she revealed that she was a transgender woman in 2008. As a result, she had to discontinue her studies and started staying with the transgender community and completed her diploma with financial help from fellow transgender people.
On finishing her diploma in Computer Science in 2011, she was placed in a software company where she worked for two years and later left complaining of discrimination.
Banu wishes for a world where there is no segregation between transgender and non-transgender persons and everybody is treated equally.
Apart from being a bright student herself, Banu had also been active for ensuring transgender rights. She filed a petition in the Madras High Court demanding that Tamil Nadu State Public Commission allows transgender persons to appear in the entrance exam.
It was due to that petition that Prithika Yashini became the country’s first transgender sub-inspector of police.
To help Banu, visit: https://milaap.org/campaigns/help_banu?ref=timeline-full