Carolina’s letter dated 26.05.2014 and the refusal of bathroom visits as a form of abuse

Source: LGBT Hapiste, “Carolina’nın 26.05.2014 tarihli mektubu ve bir kötü muamele olarak tuvalete çıkarmama” (“Carolina’s letter dated 26.05.2014 and the refusal of bathroom visits as a form of abuse”), LGBT Hapiste, 29.05.2014, http://lgbthapiste.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/carolinanin-26-05-2014-tarihli-mektubu-ve-bir-kotu-muamele-olarak-tuvalete-cikarmama/

Carolina wrote a new letter to our organization on 26.05.2014. In her three page letter, she talks about how she was denied trips to the bathroom even though she was taken to the hospital in the morning and was kept on the transport bus for hours. After knocking on the door of the transport bus for 45 minutes, the soldiers refused to let her visit the bathroom, saying “Are we going to take you to the men’s or women’s bathroom?” This clearly is a form of maltreatment and even torture. Carolina also attached a two-page report, issued by Istanbul Faculty of Medicine – Department of Psychiatry on 09.01.2012, which provides a response to the soldier’s question. In the report, it is decided that Carolina “be allowed to live in line with her female identity, roles and behaviors.”

We are sharing this letter, which represents a fitting example of maltreatment Carolina is being subjected to in her everyday life.

Greetings,

Dear ——-; how are you? I hope you are doing well. I have received the regards you have sent me, thank you. As you know, there is about a month left until the end of my sentence. Hopefully, when I get out, I will visit you and we will be able to chat. I will answer your questions face to face. You know that my written Turkish is not very legible so my ward mate ——, who also sends you his/her regards, is writing this letter for me.

I have a request to ask from you. Yesterday, on 26.05.2014, I was taken to the hospital. As you know, the soldiers and commandants* use the transport bus to take us everywhere. I have written petitions describing what I went through to every official. I had informed the soldiers and commandants before that I needed to use the bathroom, but obviously they ignored me. Even though I beat on the door of the transport bus for 45 minutes, saying that it was an emergency, they refused to take me. I waited on the bus for 2 hours. What I am telling you must have been recorded by the camera in the bus. (Unless it is there only as decoration.) In the end, they opened the door, let me out and then forced me back in after saying “are we going to take you to the men’s or women’s bathroom?” What kind of business would a transsexual have in a men’s room, right? Even though the right to live in the prison as a woman was a right guaranteed to me by the hospital board, the soldiers refused to take me to the restroom, so you see this is inhumane. So I had to, I was forced to, go in the bus. This kind of inhumane conduct is condoned in Turkey. For example, a trans friend of mine was similarly wronged by a soldier in a different event and she made official complaints about it to everywhere possible. They only took —–‘s statement and her case still continues without any actual results. This is because truth coming from us does not change a thing. This is part of the mental torture and inhumane treatment we are subjected to.

I do not need to tell you that these are all homophobic [incidents] and this sort of behavior is common for us trans people. It is obvious that if you are both a prisoner and trans, you are inevitably mistreated by the soldiers and commandants. But a government worker should come and tell them that we have the right to humane treatment and should keep these abuses from happening. Also, my friend ——— requests that they use her initials —- if —— chooses to share her experiences with the press so that her family and friends will not find out and be distressed.

Dear ——, the event I told you about with the soldiers in the transport was also witnessed by ——-, whom you already know. She was also on her way to the hospital that day. Like I said, even if there were no witnesses, there is a camera on the bus. It comes down to whether the people who respond to our complaints are fair or not. —— , whom you corresponded with before, also went through a similar thing with a commander. She was insulted, but funny as it may seem, the commander sued ———- ** saying “she insulted me.” The innocent party got punished with undue methods and untrue testimony. You see, when it comes to any altercation with us, punishment is sure to come. I wish justice would be served the same way as it is when defending the soldiers and the commandants. The right to a humane, even-handed and fair law is very important for us. My request to you is to make our voices, the convicts’ voices, heard. Feel free to use my name, Karolina or R. Soares De Mendonça, and my picture in the necessary mediums. Try writing to the Maltepe Prison Command on this subject and let us see how they respond.

I mean write to any Gendarmerie command or the Ministry of Justice. I have. I do not know if the military of this government would ever accept that I am right. I would appreciate it if you can respond to me, even with a short answer, as soon as possible. If not, you can also answer my questions in the letter you will write to ——–. I hope you take good care of yourself. Before I forget, —— also sends her regards, and expects a reply from you.

So long,

(Karolina)***

R. Soares de Mendonça

P.S. I am also attaching a photocopy of the report by the Department of Psychiatry officially allowing me to live with my female identity. —– has the same report but the soldiers and commanders are persistently forcing both of us to use the men’s bathroom and playing with our nerves. They also do this because they see us as men. The men already in the bathroom are also taken aback, saying “what is a lady doing here?” It is very important that we receive humane treatment by the soldiers and commanders.

Thank you for everything.

Republic of Turkey

Istanbul Faculty of Medicine

Department of Psychiatry

 

No: 2012/8209/01/2012

Subject: Ronilson Scares De Mendonça

To: The Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Justice, Maltepe Directorate of No. 2, L-Type Closed Institutions for the Execution of Sentences

Re: Your report dated 12/22/2011, No: 2011/Health Services/1513

Ronilson Scares De Mendonça was evaluated at our clinic on 15/12/2011 and on 22/12/2011 and consequently diagnosed with Transsexuality and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Based on her detailed life narrative, we have learned that although born as a biological male, since childhood years, Ronilson Scares De Mendonça has felt herself to be a woman, and has lived her life exhibiting feminine roles and behavior, and has felt, throughout her life, discomfort in being a man and carrying characteristics that correspond to a masculine identity.

During initial assessments, it was observed that Ronilson Scares De Mendonça wears women’s clothing and shoes, displays feminine breasts and wears make up. She was diagnosed as being a transexual (Diagnosis Criteria for Transsexuality Sexual Identity Disorder: 1. To feel continuous and intense discomfort with one’s anatomical body. 2. to feel disgust with the anatomical shape and sexual organs one is born with; to believe that these are wrong and/or associated with sickness, 3. to adopt attitudes, behavior and roles congruent with the desired gender identity from early on. (Yüksel Ş. Farklı Cinsel Kimlikler (“Different Sexual Identities”), eds.  Kulaksızoğlu I. B., Tükel R., Üçok A., Yargıç  İ., Yazıcı O., Psikiyatri, 2009: 311-318).

As seen above, it is not possible for transexual individuals to live in accordance with their biological gender; their mental health would be adversely affected should they be forced to live in accordance with gender roles and behaviors with which they do not identify. As a transexual who has felt herself to be a woman since childhood and has lived in accordance with feminine roles and behavior, it would be detrimental to Ronilson Scares De Mendonça’s mental health and her ability to adapt to her environment to be incarcerated with male inmates in prison. Hormone treatment is necessary as directed by Marmara University in order to increase her adaptation to femininity and to decrease her anxiety. The continuation of the hormone therapy under a doctor’s supervision has been deemed suitable (Cyproterone acetate 100 mg tb, Estradiol valerate+Cyproterone acetate coated tablet 21).

In conclusion, we believe that forcing Ronilson Scares De Mendonça into roles and behaviors congruent with masculine identity would have an adverse effect on her mental health and aggravate her impulse control, [which is] her other mental disorder.

We deem it necessary that:

  1. She should be given regular hormone treatment under doctor’s supervision

  2. She should be allowed to live with the female identity –roles and behavior.

  3. She should be held under a special execution regime as directed by the regulations of the Observation and Classification Center, the Ministry of Justice (Official Gazette of Turkey, Date: 6/17/2005; No: 25848 article 26, e).

Translator’s Notes:

*These refer to the Gendarmerie military personnel who serve either to protect the perimeter of the prison or to provide transport for the inmates. They differ from the prison guards or correctional officers, who are employees of the Ministry of Justice.

**We have taken the initiative to redact the name here since all other names were redacted in the original text.

***The text is inconsistent in the spelling of Carolina/Karolina’s name.

 

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