Öykü Ay

Trans woman commits suicide in Turkey

Azize Ömrüm, a sex worker who lived in İzmir, committed suicide due to not being able to stand social pressure. One of Azize Ömrüm’s closes friends, trans activist Öykü Ay said, “We are all responsible for this suicide.”

Source: “Trans Kadın İntihar Etti”, pembehayat.org, 22 August 2016, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1210


After the suicide of Azize Ömrüm, a sex worker trans woman, Öykü Ay was quoted as saying “Azize was different from all of us. She only loved once, but her lover’s parents broke them up. Azize could not stand that her lover got married by force with another person. She told her love to all of us. She was telling this so frequently, we could not understand her strong feelings. Then she found her solution by isolating herself.”

Ay also mentioned that Azize wanted to be a chef and not a sex worker. Ay stated “She used to cook very well. The only person whose bed she wanted to get in was that of her lover. But she had to be a sex worker because of her life condition. The system did not let her  work in another job. She could not handle the burden and was lonesome” and mentioned that the whole of society is responsible for Azize’s suicide, including her friends.  

As Pembe Hayat, we all offer our condolences to everyone in the trans community.

Protest for Azize in Ankara!

After Azize’s suicide, High School LGBTI in Ankara invited everyone to gather against transphobia. High School LGBTI stated “We are gathering in front of the Human Rights statue in order to not stay silent but to be the voice of Azize’s scream” and invited all anti-transphobic people to Yüksel Street at 7 pm.


Having suicidal thoughts? Please see our list of resources: https://lgbtinewsturkey.com/2015/03/04/suicide-resources/

Trans Angels on Family, Death, and Solidarity

Trans Angels, a solidarity group among trans women in Turkey, took action following the death of two trans women in last two weeks. Hande Öncü, who left Turkey for Vienna because of transphobia, was killed in a hate crime on January 19. Another trans woman, Madonna, lost her life due to ill-health in the western city of Izmir on February 5. Öykü Ay, the leading figure of Trans Angels, told kaosGL.org how they claimed the funerals and stood together.  

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “İki aile, iki cenaze: “Yaralarımızı kendi ellerimizle sarmayı öğrendik”,” (“Two families, two funerals: We learned to heal our own wounds,”) KaosGL.org, 10 February 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18696

Öykü Ay became a well-known figure among trans women after she organized Turkey’s first trans fashion show in November to raise up money for a trans shelter in Istanbul named the Trans Guesthouse, which was founded by Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association. Based upon the free health care support provided by the Beşiktaş Municipality to the shelter, she has all the reasons to feel proud of her work.


Her Facebook videos, which always start with “Hello friends, my name is Öykü Ay”, is an inspiring example of how social media can be used to mobilize a vulnerable community. Ay, who was awarded the Prize for Fighting Hate Crimes by Ankara-based Pink Life Association during a series of events to mark Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) in November, feels bewildered by the differing reactions to the death of their trans child.

“Two different cultures, two different funerals, two different worlds…” are the first words that come out of Öykü Ay’s mouth. Having attended two funerals the last two consecutive Fridays, she is full of emotions.


Trans woman from Turkey was killed in Vienna

Having left Turkey for Vienna due to transphobic pressure, trans woman Hande Öncü was killed in a hate crime. Öncü’s body will be brought back to Turkey thanks to Trans Angels’ extensive efforts.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Türkiyeli trans kadın Viyana’da öldürüldü” (Trans woman from Turkey was killed in Vienna), KaosGL.org, 29 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18598

Hande Öncü, a transwoman from Turkey in Vienna, lost her life in a hate crime. Öncü was choked to death by unidentified people who tied her arms and legs behind her back. Her body will be returned to Turkey as a result of extensive efforts.

Öncü had applied for asylum in Austria and had been living in Vienna for approximately a year and a half. Öncü had applied for asylum because of the trans discrimination she had experienced in Turkey.

Öncü’s trans friends in Turkey were saddened by the hate crime that took her life. Trans Angels, an association that aims to improve the support network among trans individuals, immediately organized the effort to bring Öncü’s body back to Turkey.

Her body is being brought back to Izmir

Öncü’s body was to be cremated because of her refugee status, but Trans Angels refused cremation and collected the amount of money necessary to bring the body back to Turkey. Öncü’s body will be returned to Turkey wrapped in a rainbow flag.

Öykü Ay from Trans Angels spoke to KaosGL about the process remarking that they are supporting each other as trans women as usual. Ay said, “We can’t assent to the cremation of a friend who had escaped to Vienna because of the transphobic violence here. We have organized from Edirne to Kars and have taken responsibility for our friend. We collected money and paid for the autopsy and freight. We have also taken on the cost of the funeral.”

“Once again, we have seen the hypocrisy of society and the family”

İlayda, an LGBTI activist from Istanbul and Öncü’s roommate in Izmir, reminisced about her late friend:

“She was a very dear friend of ours. We spent a great time together. She used to see me off at the airport every time I left the town to go to meetings and panels. She would go everywhere with her friends; she would look after them. May the lights be her companion. We’re losing many of our friends to hate crimes. Not another day goes by without losing another friend. It was particularly hard this time because it happened abroad. The fact that the family has refused to claim the body of our friend shows the hypocrisy of society and the families.”

Öncü’s body is being brought back to Izmir. She will be laid to rest shortly with Trans Angels and her friends in attendance.

Öykü Ay: “The Lord helped and we’ve opened the first trans shelter” in Turkey

Source: Ezgi Başaran, “Rabbim yardım etti, ilk trans sığınma evini açtık” (“The Lord helped and we’ve opened the first trans shelter”), Radikal.com.tr, 19 January 2015, http://www.radikal.com.tr/yazarlar/ezgi_basaran/rabbim_yardim_etti_ilk_trans_siginma_evini_actik-1274664

Turkey’s first trans shelter is opening. The hero of this initiative is Öykü Ay. Also known to the trans community as “the veiled,” Öykü says, “The Lord helped and we’ve opened the first trans shelter. Thousands of thanks to all the girls. It boosted our morale. It showed us that we can handle any difficulty once we’re united.” Here is the most encouraging story of late…


Sometimes I meet people whose life experience, or even sheer existence, is the answer to many complicated questions; it tells all that a 300-page book about politics can’t tell. Öykü Ay is one of those people. One of the most encouraging things I have heard about lately is the opening of a new trans shelter. Yes, a shelter for trans individuals. Think how frequently you read in the news about a trans individual’s beating, murder, or suicide under pressure. And now they have a roof to gather under thanks to Öykü Ay’s organizing in the trans community and the community’s own ability to organize. You are about to read the story of that shelter and that of Öykü Ay, who identifies as a religious person. While reading, please think about the concepts of morality and religiousness imposed upon us by the government. How those concepts are unable to describe real life. And, of course, think about what it means to have the strength to do good despite all the systematic misfortune, bad treatment, and ostracization. Just think.


Where and when does your story begin?

I’m from the East. I was born in a village of Malatya. To a family with 3.5 daughters and 2.5 sons.

Where do the halves come from?

From me. That’s how I say how many children there are in the family. It’s a joke. You didn’t get it, but that’s fine.

Yeah, I didn’t think that way.

Anyway, I studied teaching. I was an intern grade school teacher for about a year in Adıyaman. But I couldn’t handle it for long because I was too feminine. Pressure from family, pressure from society… It’s hard to be LGBTI in the East; it’s very painful. I ran away from there.