Transsick-o: In this country, accessing information is the “shame”

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Transsick-o: Bu Ülkede Bilgi Edinmenin Kendisi “Ayıp”,” (“Transsick-o: In this country, accessing information is the “shame”,”) Kaos GL, 11 October 2013,

The Presidency of Telecommunication (TIB) blocked access to Transsick-o also known as “the trans men information site” on 7 October 2013 through “administrative measure.” Transsick-o petitioned the TIB on 11 October 2013 to find out the reason for closure. Volunteer lawyers will also follow the legal process. Berk İnan, the founder of the blog that answers hundreds of questions about the lives of trans people, transsexuality, and the mandatory medical and legal processes, talks to about the censorship.

Who uses Transsick-o?

Transsick-o is a blog that Turkish speaking trans men, which does not only include trans men from Turkey but also dual citizens or Azeris, use for consultation. People from Azerbaijan and the United States ask questions. We are currently consulting a Syrian trans man refugee in Turkey. It’s actually difficult to see who makes use of the site since it is an open platform. So trans men who use Turkish as their native language (Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Azerbaijan, and Turkish speaking European Union residents and the rest of the world), their families, trans and LGBQI society, and the general public in Turkey benefit from it, I think.

How do you assess the blog’s closure?

This site’s closure is not only an obvious attack on the freedom of expression but also an obstruction to a mechanism of communication and organization that fulfills the fundamental needs, like loving and being loved, of a certain group. Furthermore, it sets the grounds for violations to the rights of health care and access to justice because the blog’s posts that aim to inform people of their rights are also silenced. This ban makes one think that the state does not want trans individuals to access their rights as equal citizens or have a social consensus about gender identity.

In your opinion, what is the connection between the blog and the “sexual abuse of children” and “obscenity” articles of the administrative measure?

Here is the irony: when compared to health sites, the blog does not contain any visual that could be considered pornographic. It contains either visuals from surgeries or illustrations. I chose to include reference links rather than the actual visuals of surgery results. For example, we have a post entitled “surgery methods based on breast types.” Even the chest images there are illustrations rather than photographs. As a witness to the closure cases of LGBT associations, I have been extra sensitive to this issue. There was a list of short sexual terminologies like penis, anus, urethra and their explanations. Maybe that’s what they got stuck on. I did not feel that I needed to put a +18 statement on the blog and maybe that’s what they consider abuse. But these are just ridiculous excuses. TIB does not even get to closing down porn websites but closes this website. This leads to two questions: It is either that terms like “general morality” and “protecting children” in the law are used as excuses to stop the empowerment of LGBTI people in Turkey or accessing information and defending your rights are “shame” in this country.

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