“The other men do not differ from the familiar ones”

Source: Işıl Cinmen, “Öteki erkekler”in beriki erkeklerden farkı yok!(“ the other men don’t differ from the familiar ones,”) 17 January 2014, http://www.haberturk.com/yasam/haber/913334-oteki-erkeklerin-beriki-erkeklerden-farki-yok

We are at the end.

After we talked this much, what I realized is this:

The “other men” do not differ from the familiar ones.

The “other women” also are no less than the familiar ones.

Then we should remove the term “other” and make them equal.

In our minds, in our hearts, on the streets, at work, in the Constitution to be equal.

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When did you have your surgery?

Until 16, I did not even know that transitioning from a woman to a man was possible. For five and a half years I resisted accepting that I could not live without having this surgery. Then surgeries. More than one. For two years you get psychiatric therapy and as part of that you also get hormone treatments. After that you are entitled to have surgeries, up to eight in all. I had mine when I was 24 and 26.

Does the Social Security Administration (SGK), which is the government health insurance program, cover the expenses of your surgeries?

Yes it does. Contrary to common belief, transition surgeries are not arbitrary; they are carried out under a certified medical protocol. However, last year the SGK made a decision not to cover the expenses of penile implants, also known as “joysticks.” Just the material cost alone is between 3,000-13,000 USD.

PENILE IMPLANT AMONG TRANS MEN      

Is a penis transplant possible?

It is not possible to transplant a penis from one person to another; therefore, a penis needs to be created by one’s own various body parts.  Penis transplants from cadavers do not exist yet. There has been only one case of a penis transplant in the world. In fact, in this case the patient was born male. The penis was transplanted from a man in a vegetative state to a non-trans man whose penis was chopped off. But then this penis was taken back because of the patient’s wife’s requests.

Non-trans?

To call people who are not trans normal makes trans individuals abnormal. In English non-trans people are called “cisgendered.” This is already accepted in academic literature, but many would also understand the terms “non-trans individuals” or “people who are not trans.”

What is a joystick?

The actual name of this term is penile implant. It has three types: stabile one, lithe one and the ones that can be inflated with a button put on the testicles. Instead of the cartilage tissue in a penis, an implant or bone would be used.

IS ORGASM POSSIBLE?

Can someone have an orgasm this way?

An orgasm does not depended on an implant, which is for erections. Of course there is no sperm; yet semen ejeculation is not the only thing that happens during orgasm. In fact, during this time hundreds of things in the blood, muscles, and the brain change. Let us put people’s mind at ease: trans men can be satisfied in their sex lives.

Does sex transition change sexual behavior?

Gender identity unconsciously influences thousands of things from one’s way of sitting to how one does his/her hair, even how one builds sentences. So, it is impossible for it to not influence body language in bed. I should say testosterone changes a person’s relationship with sex and sexuality. Besides the fact that sex comes to mind more often, it becomes a more critical need but this must be talked about.

I guess you have a girlfriend; did she know from the very beginning?

She knew and did not care. We have been together for one and a half years. In fact, we met at an activity that I attended as an activist with my trans male identity. Even if it had not happened in this way, she would have found out; this is not something I hide. Of course, I do not introduce myself like “Hi, I am a trans man,” but I do disclose it because this is an important part of the person I have become. Once I get this out in the open in a natural way, people usually do not make a big deal out of it.

How does a person’s voice change?

The voice changes with hormones injections. I feel like a room slowly developed behind my palate over time and my voice became lower since the voice gets packed in that room. On the first day of my injection my voice started getting lower like boys experience in their adolescence. For a year it was funny, but then it settled down.

TRANS PEOPLE ARE CONSIDERED INFERIOR TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN

Is life more difficult for trans women or trans men?

Calling them by the word “other” is already a bad situation. More than that, wondering “which one is in the worse situation” seems to me like asking “which one should we feel more sorry for?”

But I’m not asking that.

To give up your blessed manhood is always worse in this society. Although this system also does not accept those trans men who are trying to reach this sacredness with all their heart and soul since this is not their natural right. We do not fulfill the conditions of manhood; no circumcision, no military… Yes, because testosterone is a dominant hormone and its effects cannot be taken back, many trans women have problem of being in a “compulsory visibility” unlike many trans men. Their face or body structure gives clues before their gender identity is disclosed. Unfortunately, this situation causes many terrible circumstances; such as unemployment, prostitution, and related to that more violence and prejudice. However, finding a job as an openly trans man is also rare. This comparison between the two does not get us anywhere. In any case, a trans person is always considered inferior than [cisgendered] men and women. This is a joint fight and therefore I do not feel comfortable with any discrimination in it.

MILITARY DRAFT NOTICES ARE SENT

What is the military status for trans men? Do they send you a draft notice?

They do. The government gives us a tough time before we can receive our blue ID cards. Then suddenly, the military sends you your draft notice once you get your blue ID. The Turkish Armed Forces, unlike other developed countries in the world, does not accept gays and transsexuals to the serve in the military due to its outdated justification that these individuals have advanced psychological disorders. However, they do call them for the draft, just so you can experience this stress anyway.

How do they treat you in the military hospital?

First you go to a local military branch, then you are referred to a hospital and then to the Gülhane Medical Medical Academy. There, you have to make your trans identity public to all of the civilians, employees, doctors, and nurses you encounter. Moreover, during the process they can carelessly ask any question they feel curious about. This may be a transphobic person. These types of occasions really cause a lot of stress. Bringing your records and the court order, you get the “unfit to serve in the military” report. You then have to clarify the question “why were you exempted from the military?” in your job applications. This is just an another hardship we have to put up with.

MAY THE EXPRESSION OF GENDER IDENTITY NOT BE REASON FOR DISCRIMINATION!

What are trans people’s legal requests?

Before anything else, it needs to be clearly stated in the constitution that gender identity should not be grounds for discrimination, similar to race, gender, religion, language, etc.. and a law should be enacted prohibiting any type of discrimination related to gender identity.

So, this way those crimes could be prevented, right?

Yes, we do not have any more patience to see one of our trans friends become an easy target of hate crimes, violence, robbery, and/or sexual assaults because his or her gender identity does not fit X person’s perception of what a man or woman should be like. We want the government to explain this to its citizens while also providing legal protection.

What is the other important problem?

Because an individual’s sex is still declared on their identification and IDs cannot easily be changed, we are doomed to disclose our transsexual identity everywhere for a long time before and after ID changes. In military branches, hospitals, banks, notaries, courier companies, etc. I mean, it happens thousands of times. It is necessary to regulate the process of ID change and to eliminate the occasions in which transsexuals have to disclose their identity. In fact, we are not protected by law and in addition to that we are put in situations where we may be exposed to transphobia again and again.

What else?

Do you know that we are castrated simply due to physicians’ suggestions and by the power of law even though it is against the principle of the inviolability of bodily integrity? This is one of the requirements for identification change.  It’s like the street animals…

This is terrible. What would be the solution?

Article 40 of the Code of Civil Law regulating sex transitions should be changed. Additionally, we want to have more expert clinics and government support in this, so more psychiatrists, surgeons, and social workers could work on this topic. Then we would be like other places in the world.

These should not seem too much…

These are only basic legal demands and I have not even talked about the needs in education, work, etc. If someone thinks we want too much, they should also consider the amount of human rights violations we are exposed to.

For those who would like to learn more, these are İnan’s suggestions:

Movies:

Tomboy: First on the list. The main character in the movie is also a trans man.

My Child: This is not a story of trans men but I would put this documentary in the second spot.

Boy’s Don’t Cry: This is the most well-known movie about a trans man and it is based on a very sad true story.

Books and Research:

Trompet and Stone Butch Blues, translated as The Dike Song in Turkish, are two good translated novels.

Labunya, written by Selin Berghan, includes interviews done with many trans women and trans men. There is also The Other Men by Aras Güngür.

İnan also writes two blogs to support people while coming out:

“Transsicko” and “If the world can be transformed, so can I”

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