On The Nature of Trans Killings

Source: Dilara Çalışkan, “Trans Cinayetlerinin Niteliği Üzerine” (“On The Nature of Trans Killings”), Birgün, 27 April 2014, http://birgun.net/haber/trans-cinayetlerinin-niteligi-uzerine-13544.html

It should be remembered that those who are responsible for the hate murders of trans people are also responsible for the rights violations committed against women, children, and all LGBTI individuals. They are responsible for the rights violations of any individual who does not conform to the idealized norm of the “Turkish citizen.”

In the last 8 years, 36 news items were published that began with the heading “We are shaken with yet another hate murder!” In the last one year, the number of articles beginning with the heading “We are shaken with yet another woman killing” was 214. These are only the ones we know about, the ones that were reported and officially recorded. We lost count of how many hate crimes are being committed, each one reminding us of the other, each inflicting deep cuts in our hearts, each prompting us to ask “is the next one going to be me?”

And every time, we get back up and say, again and again, that “It’s Enough!”, “This ought to be the last one!”, that we know the killers well. And it is very annoying that we can fully understand who Çağla’s killer is and where he is coming from, who, calmly, comes down the ladders of the building and ties his shoelaces, as shown in surveillance cameras.

It seems that watching how easy it is to end a life reminds us, very painfully, to what extent trans killings and woman killings are political.

Turkey as a nation refuses to accept that the boundaries between woman and man are fluid and blurry, that there does exist sexual orientations other than heterosexuality and gender identities other than manhood and womanhood. Turkey is a nation that forcefully dictates to us how to become a gender from the moment we are born and that punishes harshly those who do not conform to its norms of manhood and womanhood. Turkey is a nation where the only way to prove your gender transition is to demonstrate that you are “devoid of the ability to reproduce.”

We are continuing to scream at those who close their ears to us, that is to those occupy dominant positions in the social hegemony, and to those who know us from the discriminatory third-page news headlines: we know what these killings mean. Trans killings are political.

Because we know that the responsible party is:

  •   The heteronormative system.
  •   The education system that seeks to raise us as “children who will serve the homeland.”
  •   The feudal family structure. The kind of thinking that is able to say “Not our problem” when we call Çağla’s family.
  •   The minister who dares to claim that homosexuality is “a biological disorder and illness that needs to be cured” although homosexuality, since 1985, has not been considered an illness.
  •   The police who have been inflicting violence upon us for months and who did the same in regard to Çağla by not touching her lifeless body nor allowing medics to touch her but who go out of their ways to “hunt down transvestites” and “fulfill their duty” since this awards them 10 to 20 points on their bonus system.
  •   The media that targeted trans women with headlines such as “transvestite terror” in the 1990s and portrayed hate murders with cruel and sexist language, basing their reporting solely on police statements.
  •   The legal system, which ignores rights violations and protects killers.
  •   The healthcare system, which is able to disregard a most basic human right for trans individuals: access to healthcare.
  •   Militarization, which seeks to standardize us through the national military draft.
  •   The prime minister who gives the “3 children” advice but protects the killers of those children who do not conform to the “ideal” norms of femininity or masculinity and who refrains from initiating any kind of anti-discriminatory social policy.
  •   The state, which ignored LGBTI groups’ struggles entirely as it passed legislation on hate crimes and which refuses to employ terms such as “gender identity” or “sexual orientation.”

For all of these reasons, we will never stop declaring that “Trans Murders are Political.”

But one must not forget that the responsible parties above are not only responsible for hate crimes against trans individuals. They are also responsible for rights breaches against women, children and all LGBTI persons. They are responsible for the rights breaches that are suffered by everyone who does not conform to the idealized norm of the  “Turkish” citizen.

Those who are responsible are the ones who maintain and reproduce the notion of a “general morality.”

Those who are responsible are the ones who are trying to squeeze us into the narrowest lifestyles, the narrowest spaces, the narrowest identities and sometimes the narrowest prison wards. It is for this reason that the hate murder committed on the Narrowest Street (Turkish: Daracık Sokak – where Çağla was killed), killing Çağla very much matters to us all. It is political and it implicates all of our lives.

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