Knife attack against trans woman

[Trigger warning: This news story depicts threats of rape as well as violence. –Trans.]

A trans woman in Ankara almost lost her hand following a knife attack. She told Kaos GL about her experience during the attack, the neglect from the police, and how she was tagged as “military deserter” in the process.

bihter-at-kaosglSource: Ömer Akpınar, “Trans kadına sallamalı saldırı: Kafayı kolla kızım!” [“Knife attack against trans woman”], Kaos GL, 28 April 2015,

Bihter is a trans woman living in Ankara. She risked losing her left hand following an attack on the night of April 7. She was hospitalized for two weeks and currently has 172 stitches in her hand. When the police remained indifferent to her efforts to find justice, the Gelincik Project by the Ankara Bar Association offered her legal support. Bihter, who lost her wedding ring and her solitaire ring along with 230 liras [$85], talked about her experiences with Kaos GL.

“Give me 20 liras for gas!”

We went out that day, then a friend of mine, Eda, a girl, said “I feel so blue, let’s meet right away.” It was about 2 AM or so. I said, “okay, you’ll come to my place.” Because she did not know how to get to my home, I told her “get on the street and I’ll pick you up.” On Bagdat Street. I set off but I was not waiting on the road, I was waiting in front of Kuzey Market. I was not even on the pavement.

A black car arrived at precisely 2:27 AM. A Ford. Either a Focus or a Mondeo. It arrived fast. A plumpy, stubbly, dark haired man got off the back seat and came to me, directly. He went for my coat pocket and said, “give me 20 liras [$7] for gas!” I said, “what are you doing, what nonsense are you talking about?” and pushed him away. I turned to his friend and said, “is your friend high, can you please take him away, I am waiting for my friend, please!” How dare you say that? The man held me and said, towards my lips, “I’ll give you 20 liras, I’ll fuck you, and I’ll kill you.” I swear.

“Protect your head, my dear”

He then held onto my green purse and tried to pull it away. And I am trying to hold onto my bag. I have 230 liras in my bag and I was to wire it that day to my sibling’s account. The others got out of the car at that point. The driver got out, and two others from the backseat, and now there were four of them. I started getting punched in the head. They pulled me to an obscured corner next to the store. They pulled me in there and started hitting me. They were hitting me directly on my head, not other parts of my body. I am trying to protect my head with my hands, I say to myself “protect your head, my dear.”

Telling myself that maybe they are after my purse, I let go of my bag. They continued hitting me despite my letting go of the bag and I’ll never forget this particular scene: I am looking to my left with my head leaning down; [I see] a stick -like a pickaxe handle- I thought it was a baseball bat from afar, I said to myself “oh no Bihter, a baseball bat, protect your head right away my dear.” As I covered my head with my hand -it was not a baseball bat, of course, it was a butcher’s knife- they hit me on my head. They hit me three times, the worst being the third one, severing my hand. After those blows, of course, blood was gushing out. At that moment, one of the assailants said, “okay, I got it, let’s run” and they run away. I am still not aware that my hand has been severed.

“Because I had no social security, the surgery cost 12,000 liras”

My hand was severed 80%; it was only the skin that was holding it together. The bones, the muscles, all of them were gone. That is why the surgery took 8 hours. When I saw my hand in that condition, I of course fainted. Despite fainting, no one helped me until my friend arrived. They took me immediately to the Hacettepe Medical Center. The scandal does not end there — they do not take me in for surgery until they get my signature. “Do you accept the surgery cost of 12,000 liras?” they are asking “because you do not have social security for 12,000 liras.” I am dying, so of course I accept. I waited in the ER for an hour like this.

Though, of course, there were tests done and the preparations for the surgery; we should at least acknowledge that of their efforts. And they took me in for surgery at 4 AM. My surgery ended around 10-10:30 AM. The first three or four days were very critical for my fingers — wondering whether or not they would move. The surgery was successful, but my last two fingers are in bad shape; I will start physical therapy for them. This situation affected me significantly both psychologically and financially.

Police: “Bah, nothing will come out of that”

I got out of surgery and the first thing I said was “please get the police, I will testify.” They said the police were not there. My incident is not even being recorded as a judicial case in the hospital, go figure. The police went there. In fact, according to what the neighbors are saying, they wanted to testify, but the police refused. They said, “don’t meddle into it, we will take care of it.” And they left the scene. I swear, I called the Esat Police Station for three days, exactly for three days. “We are coming, we are there. We will be there in half an hour, we will be there tomorrow;” they just did not arrive, until I told them, “I will file a complaint against you with the prosecutor’s office.”

On the third day, two police officers arrived and took my statement. Sure, they did take my statement, but not even a bit of progress has been made. I went to the Esat Police Station the moment I was released from the hospital. Seeing that nothing was being done, I went directly to the prosecutor’s office. I went to see prosecutor Murat Akkurt. “I gave them ten days,” he said, “these affairs are not done in a moment’s notice,” he said, “don’t you worry, if they ignore it, I will do what I can.” 11 days, 12 days, I wait and I wait and I heard nothing from them. I went back to the station. They said “your documents did not arrive.” I went to the prosecutor’s office again. This time, the prosecutor said “your documents were sent today.” The documents were sent to the police station on the 11th day!

In the station, they told me “don’t you worry, we sent documents for MOBESE[1] recordings, these things don’t happen in a moment’s notice my dear, give us some time, I wish you noted the license plate.” I replied  “the powerful state can solve a murder from a single wiretap, can it not solve this case if it wanted to?”

Normal cameras store the recordings for a week; MOBESE cameras, I think, store it for a month. What I began to do was to research the cameras. However, there was a problem, because it was nighttime, we could not read the license plate. It requires zooming, perhaps they can do it, I do not know. I went to the police again, I told them that buildings with this and this numbers had recordings. They said “we got those.” I do not know if they were telling the truth or lying. Then my friends called me — they had a problem one night and asked about me at the Esat Police Station. The police told them “Bah, nothing will come out of that.” When I heard that, I went to the Prime Ministry immediately on Friday.

At the Prime Ministry Entry Door C: “I swear I am trans, cross my heart I am trans”

I went to the Prime Ministry Entry Door C to file a complaint. By myself. I asked the police officers. I told them the story and asked for help, “do I have to scream?” I said. You know my life is tragi-comical, I turned out to be a military deserter there. In that process, for half an hour at the Prime Ministry, I tried to prove that my ID card belonged to me. It took me half an hour! They don’t believe that I am trans. “No you are a woman, why did you come here with a male ID card[2], what is your goal?” they said. “I swear I am trans, cross my heart I am trans!” Nope, I could not make them believe me. It took me half an hour! Until we went to the national registry office and asked about, you know, mother’s name, father’s name, sister’s name, how many children does she have, asking and asking; and somehow they believed at the end. After exiting that office they took me into the Prime Ministry and recorded my complaint.

My complaint was forwarded from there to the Governorate, then to the Ministry of Justice, and to various institutions. Many thanks to them, they helped a lot, God exists[3]. However, there was a problem and I asked the woman there about it. I said “look, tell me in clear terms if all this is going to stay on paper so that I follow the Prime Minister and scream for help at the rallies he participates in.” “Call this number, if nothing comes out of it in two weeks we will help you” the woman replied as she handed me a phone number. I sent a letter to the Presidency, but nothing came out of that either.

In the line for a medical check-up at the Military: “My God, these people represent the shame of this country!”

So I am coming back from the military. I am going in for a psychiatric examination. What a scandal! I rebelled. The assailants are still not found, the evidence was still not found. My purse is still with me, with the fingerprints on it. Nothing has been done, not even a crime scene investigation.

I am waiting in line for the medical examination at the military. My hand is aching. I am telling myself “I’ll just have this done and leave.” And a kid keeps dissing me. “What are women doing here, what the heck are these [sic] doing here, why are you walking around in here,” and another spoke with similar statements. I did not answer, I did not answer. I guess he understood what [sic] we were when he joined in the line. “My God, these people represent the shame of this country!” he said. I turned and replied “hey look at me, I am more of a chap than you, did you know that? But I won’t even address you, my dear.” Then this kid came back and said, “For God’s sake, what are you walking around for in here?” and I started yelling: “You will know your place! What kind of a place is this, is this not a serious institution”  and the soldiers intervened and defended us. “Okay lady,” one of them said [respectfully], and scolded the kid real bad. That is, they looked out for us. There was no enmity, no exclusion. I received a referral for psychiatry. I will visit the Etimesgut [Military Base].

“I still see them murdering me in my dreams”

My boyfriend provided me with significant support, my trans friends supported me, but that is not enough.

I have some very serious financial losses, and my hand will not return to what it used to be. I cannot work, I cannot wash myself, I cannot brush my hair, I cannot eat. I cannot even open book covers without my left hand. This situation is affecting me a lot, this will remain so until the third week of May. I have 172 stitches on my hand. I came back from the dead, it was going to go into my skull if not for my hand. The doctor said “if you did not put your hand [on your head] your chance of survival was zero. You were dead…” I still see them murdering me in my dreams.

[1] MOBESE, Mobile Electronic System Integration, is a nationwide mass urban video surveillance system used by security forces in Turkey, similar to those deployed in the US and the EU. –Trans.

[2] ID cards are sex/gender-marked in Turkey by color, assigning pink to women and blue to men. –Trans.

[3] “Allah var,” lit. “God exists,” meaning “to be fair”–Trans.

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