Source: Hazal Özbarış, “Korkma, dinle, anla: Şahika Hoca Transseksüelleri Anlatıyor,” (“Don’t be Afraid, Listen, Understand: Professor Şahika Yüksel tells us about transsexuals,”) t24, June 9, 2014. http://t24.com.tr/haber/korkma-dinle-anla-sahika-hoca-transseksuelleri-anlatiyor,260612
From the “wall” surgeries of 1980s to the Bülent Ersoy law, from Rüzgar Erkoç to the trans individual who sued Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights
“Mistakenly” used every now and then to publicly refer to Bülent Ersoy2, who has had surgery 33 years ago, this phrase is a never-exhausted theme in celebrity news in Turkey. The name of the reaction, which extends from that reflex-like chuckle given when reading news such as this, all the way to murder, is transphobia.
Because this transphobia is shared by the majority of people, even though the sentence for murder with intent is life in prison, if the murdered victim is trans, the following two statements will be sufficient for a judge to reduce the sentences:
“I thought they were a woman.”
“They propositioned [me] to have anal sex.”
Thus, the judge, “whose manhood is said to be at stake” and who is of the same gender as the murderer, determines that the murderer has been unduly provoked, and Turkey, yet again, is guaranteed to be number one [in trans murders] in Europe.3
The theme of Trans Pride Week, which will be held on 16th-22nd June, is “The State is The Perpetrator” because of the hatred, attacks, and murders that trans people experience, not only in the courtroom, but in all arenas where the state leaves its mark.
In order to learn more about the Turkey that is experienced by trans people, and that hardly features in news media or popular television programs, we visited Prof. Şahika Yüksel.
Yüksel’s 40 year career follows Turkey’s perspective on trans people in the fields of law and health.
While her colleagues were turning away transsexuals, Şahika Yüksel chose a different path and, after becoming a associate professor in 1985, began seeing transsexuals who visited Istanbul University’s Faculty of Medicine. Learning its principles by consulting with her colleagues abroad, Yüksel showed that the care of transsexuality does not consist solely of surgery, by including post-surgery care as part of the process. Yüksel began offering group therapy at the end of the ’80s and thus became the go-to person for many transsexuals from Anatolia.
Yüksel, who retired last year, is the founding president of the Istanbul Psychosocial Trauma Unit, a founding member of the Association for Sexual Education, Treatment and Research, the former president of the Psychiatry Association of Turkey, as well as a founding member of Purple Roof Shelter Association and Human Rights Association.
Şahika Yüksel’s experience in this area, which stretches from the 1970s to 2010, provides an alternative history. Below are her answers to T24’s questions:
How were sex change operations performed in the 1970s? How did LGBTI issues enter your life?
When I began my psychiatry career in the Psychiatry Department of Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in 1972, what academic interest, if any, existed in Turkey at the time in the field of sexuality and sexual problems, was covert. Thus, as students, we were pretty ignorant in these areas. It was a period in the world when sexual treatments were also newly developing. We had begun to hear about gays and lesbians with the 1968 movement. But, at the time, mental health and problems were all new to me. I do not recall being interested in LGBT issues. Sexual orientation, sexual identity changes, were not things that were known back then. They were absent in the mainstream as well as marginal circles. One thing I remember is that Prof. Ali Nihat Mındıkoğlu, a very prominent aesthetic surgeon in Turkey, was performing sex change operations, but there was no clarity about the principles on which these operations were carried out or who did them.
“After Uğur Dündar’s program, the doors of the universities were closed to trans people”
If in the 1970s someone said “I want to change my gender” and they had money, could they go to Mındıkoğlu and get surgery?
A psychiatrist would issue a report, but the principles had not yet been clarified. Those who wanted to have the surgery were not necessarily people who had self-knowledge and were ready for the transition; they probably included homosexuals. Journalist Uğur Dündar started a program with Mındıkoğlu. When he was describing the operations, someone previously operated on by Mındıkoğlu came into the program and said “you ruined my life.” After this, Mındıkoğlu was ostracized in the medical community. After this incident with Mındıkoğlu, who was a faculty member at the university, although there was no official law, sex change operations began to be performed secretly, in unsuitable places.
Post 1980 ‘wall’ surgeries
How did the coup d’etat4 affect the surgeries?
While some transsexuals were exiled to Eskişehir, men working in the entertainment sector in particular were subject to heavy oppression, torture, and were prevented from working. During this period, due to the increasing oppression of trans and nonheterosexuals, some homosexuals who did not need to have surgery began to have a type of surgery called “wall.”
What is “wall” surgery?
Mostly, homosexuals working in entertainment in Beyoğlu were not tolerated by the police and their workplaces suffered because of it. They would have their penis surgically clipped in order to look like a woman.
Was this followed by vaginoplasty?
No, because those individuals did not need a vagina; they were men. They had to undergo this horrible surgery to stay alive. The Noktamagazine published interviews with some of them.
“Transsexuals were an unwanted group in the hospitals“
Were these “walls” done in the so-called “under the stairway” places instead of hospitals? Were they able to file complaints against doctors who caused medical problems?
Because those surgeries were done under the table, patients could not make any claims against infections and losses. Moreover, they were paying far more for those surgeries. People did not know or care about the difference between sexual identity and sexual orientation at the time. And many leftist groups saw this as an issue to be solved after the revolution, so they did not care. I became an associate professor during this period and began seeing my own patients and transsexuals began to come to me.
Why did you see them?
It was a group of people no one wanted to see and I wanted to see them. I was open to cases that no one knew what to do with. I had also studied psychotherapy in England back then when it was very new. So perhaps that’s why young friends would send them to me.
“LGB people were viewed as people missing something in their constitution”
What is the reason no one wanted to see them? Transphobia? Ignorance about the topic?
Both. To call it transphobia, trans needs to be a known concept; this was something unknown. Even though it brings prestige in medicine to discover and report rare diseases, a condition seen in six in a thousand people did not attract much interest. I did not know what I was going to be involved with when I entered this area. For instance, there was no platform to discuss with LGB people how they were not heterosexual. More often, the questions were: Where is the pathology? The missing part? Hormonal deficiency? And there were no clear answers. I wanted to get to know these people. They drew my attention. Because you can change everything, may want to have aesthetic surgery to look young, but [saying] “I want to change my gender” is a curious thing.
Did you see it as a “disease?”
At the time, transsexual individuals were defined as sick without much questioning. Even today, except for those who take a political stand and are open about it, transsexual individuals hide their identity after they transition to the other gender. Moreover, often, transsexual people and their families want to have this perceived as a disease. Otherwise, it will be conceived as a choice, like choosing tea over coffee. But if this is caused by “my genes,” then “I am not responsible.” There is an explanation that is inaccurate but often cited by transsexual individuals to those around them: “I have a biological condition, I will change that.” As though they were intersex, “there is an anomaly with my genitalia, I will have it corrected.” This way, those who take it or give it are both happy.
Two questions to answer before having gender reassignment surgery
Were there any names or scientific documents you could consult on the topic?
In 1980, at a congress in Greece on anxiety disorders, I met Friedman Pffelling, an expert on transsexuality, and a psychotherapist working on human rights issues. I consulted him when I was overwhelmed by cases I encountered. It is a very serious decision to change gender and all eyes are on you.
One of the most important points in the process of gender reassignment is “care.” As is clear in the precise translation of the English formulation “Assessment of transsexuals, reassignment principles and care,” the process does not begin nor end with surgery. These individuals need to be prepared and cared for. I learned from my friend Pffeling the following principles regarding the preparation process: (1) Will they want the reassignment without regrets, on a long term and permanent basis? (2) Are they ready for this change? You may want the change but your capacity to endure what follows may be low. (3) The continuing role of the mental health expert in the interdisciplinary collaboration.
“A transsexual must fulfil their religious obligations according to their gender“
How much time were you giving your patients to answer these two questions?
They need to live in the role of the opposite gender for two years according to the standards laid by Henry Benjamin who published the first scientific studies in 1968 and who penned the foundational statement after having reviewed and revised its content over the course of seven years. But there is no condition that these two years be spent under our supervision. Today everyone knows a little about transsexuality. But in the 1980s, and ‘90s, there were those who thought they were all alone, and without knowing what to do, they planned to have surgeries secretly, hiding it from their families, and go back to work the next day. We tried to establish a structure. You did not want to issue faulty reports, otherwise everything would get ruined. In the first years, we issued a report after two years of supervision.
But today, someone comes up to you. You would not think they were born male. They say they use this identity at work. Then life is easier because the gender they want to have officially has been tested.You do not have to see this person for two years. You can issue a report after two three sessions in a few months. But someone comes and says, “My family would not put up with this, they are very religious. There is no woman who does not cover her head, I cannot remove my headscarf.” Then that transsexual person has a longer journey. When will you remove your headscarf? They need to be performing their religious obligations not as a woman but as a man.
What did this person do?
Through psychotherapy, we highlighted that a period of time should pass between the headscarf [removal] and the surgery.
Before 1988 when gender reassignment surgery became legalized, how did the person you considered appropriate for gender reassignment have the surgery?
Until 1988 there was no article of law in the Civil Code regarding transsexual individuals. There were only the surgery permits granted to intersex people who had problems at birth with their sexual organs. Trans people also used this permission to have surgery. Surgeons were not acting unlawfully when they operated without assessment. A psychiatrist had to say: “I saw them; they have rational capacity; they can be taken at their word.”
What did you do when you thought that the person was mentally fit but was not suitable for gender reassignment?
I did not. I was very meticulous about it. Until 1988, a single signature sufficed. After that, you had to find hormones and a team to perform the surgical treatment. Halil Azizlerli, Faruk Alagöl, and Harika Bozkurt, all faculty members at the Department of Endocrinology at the Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, were very understanding. At Cerrahpaşa, Mındıkoğlu’s old post, I met Ibrahim Yıldırım. He came to our clinic and explained to the faculty there that there would be such situations and surgeries could be done.
Were there FTM surgeries?
MTF surgeries are relatively easy compared to FTM, which are very difficult. Whereas the first MTF surgery was performed in 1950, the technology for FTM is very new. It was important even to have people who knew the surgical technique in the beginning of 1990s. But FTM surgery does not have to encompass penis construction; the removal of breasts and uterus were assessed within this framework. Penile reconstruction came later.
Those who say “When Ersoy became a woman, my world changed”
Is it Zeki Müren5, who was also known as “the Pasha,” or is it “homosexual” Bülent Ersoy, who would not go on stage without taking her religious ablutions, who was more prominent in the narratives of the 1980s?
Looking back I can respond to your question thus; in the eyes of people, both were weird, abnormal people who had shameful things about them. But they both attracted tremendous attention.
But he was also called “the sun of art”?
Yes but they were different people who were not discussed explicitly.
How did Bülent Ersoy’s surgery in the 1980s affect the opening up of this topic?
I can say this; there were a lot of transsexuals who said: “I turned on the radio when I was 8 years old, they said Bülent Ersoy became a woman. That day my life changed. I, too, could become a woman.” Even the law was known as Bülent Ersoy law.
Turkey is the only country that issues birth certificates differentiated by gender
Whereas before Ersoy, trans people could be construed as intersex and change gender, when someone like Ersoy, who was publicly known as a man, announced “I am going to become a woman,” it became impossible to reduce it to a case of intersex. Kenan Evren6 banned identity change. Kocayusufoğlu, Ersoy’s attorney, a lawyer from Istanbul Law School who waged her battle, wrote a whole book about it. And in 1988, for the first time, a law came into being that said: “There is a condition called transsexuality. Transsexual persons can change their identity after surgery.” Let me take this opportunity to remind you that Turkey is the only country that issues color-coded identity cards based on gender7.
How much do you agree with the assessment that the biggest opening up about trans people in Turkish history happened during the Özal8 period.
This law was a thing for the opening up of transsexuality. The permission for surgery ceased to be a matter of single signature and now required the authorization of a health commission consisting of three people at a university hospital . There were deficiencies in the determination of surgery conditions. In other words, whereas in the ’70s, it was unclear who should have the surgery, in the ’80s it was unclear what the preconditions for surgery were.
To develop a branch of care in the mental health aspect, we began in 1987 group psychotherapy, which we saw as the best way to reduce the sense trans people have of themselves as “the only person in the whole world like this” and to [help them] get to know other trans people. We began with 3-4 people and soon people began to come from all over Turkey. To someone living in Ardahan, they would refer to us saying, “that’s the only place that does this [in the country].” Although we were not the only people issuing reports, we were the sole providers of care. The group in Istanbul Medicine dissolved after I left in 2013, but there are other groups at the university hospitals of Hacettepe, Izmir and Kocaeli.
“They may not have allowed us in another university“
How did your colleagues view you when you were opening up these paths in the 1980s?
In comparison to other universities, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine harbors all kinds of people . They may not have allowed this in another university. Most people in my institution did not care for what we were doing. But I never wanted to be in that group to begin with. I was happy where I was. I never supplicated, never had a problem of wanting to be liked by everyone, but I worked hard not to give any opportunity to those who were hoping for it. Besides, I had a close circle, a group that nourished me. I was generally getting support from young people, new assistants. I never belittled their support just because they were not professors; I always knew their value.
Did your family react negatively?
They were supportive overall; they encouraged me. I never received anything negative from close family members. My mother had been living in Cihangir for 20-25 years and she was concerned about, open, and supportive of LGBT people. She used to get angry with people who mistreated them and used to give informative talks to those in her circle about this issue.
“Since 2002 illegal vasectomies are being performed as a result of the law”
When and how did the law change after 1987?
Article 40 of the Civil Code was revised and expanded in 2002. But they inserted the conditional statement “required to be infertile,” which has no scientific validity!
Since 2002, people who are not infertile are also changing genders. How is the conditionality fulfilled?
Men take birth control pills, women take testosterone. When you take hormones of opposite gender, you become infertile, but temporarily so. Because the law says it has to be “permanent,” generally, illegal vasectomies (the blocking of tubes carrying sperm) are being performed or ovaries are being removed. Illegality or their exorbitant cost is not the only issue here, access to an expert doctor is also the problem.
The “Infertility” case is at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
7-8 years ago, the Turkish Psychiatry Association, CETAD (Association for Sexual Education and Treatment) and TTB (Turkish Doctors’ Association) petitioned the Ministry of Health to remove the infertility condition. The Ministry convened a private meeting and everyone agreed on the inappropriateness of such a condition. But nothing changed. There is one more way to change it: the European Court of Human Rights. But in order to appeal to the ECtHR, you should not have had the surgery for you will declare a rights violation. A trans person did this and ECtHR accepted the application. The person is currently waiting in line for interview. Based on other decisions on violations, it is certain that they will win the case.
“Transsexuality is more easily accepted than homosexuality“
Did Rüzgar Erkoçlar,9 who shared his experience in an interview with Ayşe Arman in 2010, become the new Bülent Ersoy for transmen?
When I ask “Why did you come?” there were people who introduced themselves by saying “we are like Rüzgar.” Trans men say “I heard about Rüzgar; I have hope.” Rüzgar did something very important, very worthy of respect from others. However even if they stay transsexual till they die, transsexual individuals wish to erase the time before they change their gender. The paving the pathway had a very heavy cost for Rüzgar. For instance, when they find out about a trans teacher, when they say, “this teacher is trans,” most parents take it up with the school administration and cause trouble.
While regular people can change their residency, what is the case for civil servants? What kind of a reassignment policy does the state have for civil servants post identity change?
For example, if you are in Istanbul on the Asian side, you are transferred to the European side or vice versa. The state erases the person’s information under their previous name from the system when they do the transfer; privacy is preserved.
Transsexuality is often accepted more easily than homosexuality because when the person moves to their declared gender, they can be the woman of the house or the man of the house and therefore, the system continues.
“Gender reassignment surgery will now be covered under the Social Security Institution (SGK)”
What are the current legal conditions and steps for gender reassignment surgeries today?
Minimum age is 18, (mental) competency and being single are also requirements. When somebody approaches us, we proceed with the following three steps:
1st step: Understanding and preparing for mental health; are they really transsexual?
2nd step: Hormones. Today in Turkey endocrinologists, that is, hormone therapy experts, are often fully booked. Trans people cannot find experts who can do the treatment and inform them of the risks. In the past, our capacity was large at Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine; but with the recent transformations in healthcare and the new performance system, capacities have been reduced and we have a problem. As a result, our hospital does not only exclude transsexuals, they turn back many thyroid patients as well. It has to be noted that hormone therapy can be reversed. In other words, it is not permanent as with the surgical interventions.
3rd step: Surgery. Once the decision for surgery is made, there are very few institutions and doctors that perform such surgeries. According to a regulation issued in November, surgeries are now covered under SGK (Social Security Institution). But universities generally do not like these surgeries.
“The Penis may not work out, the vagina might close up“
For artificial penises, skin and tissue grafts are taken from arms or legs. Tissue match is critical. For example, smoking is very harmful for microsurgery; surgery results vary significantly between smokers and nonsmokers. The penis may not work out, may have problems. Furthermore, it is never as sensitive, erotic, as the male sexual organ. People need to come for follow up appointments after the surgery. Otherwise, for instance, the vagina may close up due to lack of exercise with vaginal dilators.
Trans men’s surgeries are different. People who are intellectually more sophisticated are content with having breast and internal genitalia removal, ending menstruation, and enlarging the clitoris through hormones without proceeding with penile reconstruction.
“I do not understand a man who wants to be pregnant“
Some trans people do not wish to have surgery. Is this due to the embracing of Queer theory which begins from the premise of performance rather than biology?
I cannot say that I understand this part very well or that all of them exist. For instance, I do not understand a man who wants to get pregnant.
Is Conchita, who won the Eurovision, in this group?
Yes, something like that. I could not have imagined a woman with a beard 5 years ago. It is good from the perspective of freedom, but it looks bad to me. I am unable to be that flexible about it. I would say that there is a psychological counterpart here. This has something to do with wanting to be in the foreground. The press love them, too. People must have freedom; they can be what they want. Perhaps I am backward on this and need to think a lot more to grasp it.
“Today there are almost no bootleg surgeries [operations]“
There are those who say, “why should a doctor decide whether or not I can change my gender?” and seek out alternative ways. Can they find opportunities for illegal surgeries?
Today there are almost no bootleg surgeries, because the penalty for surgeries without permission is very high. Especially for FTM surgeries you need a serious operating theater. These operations can last 10 hours with 7-8 people in the room.
What is the material cost of this process including surgery?
I do not know, but the least costly phase is the first one and the most expensive is the surgical intervention. Hormones are normally cheap, but because they require regular supervision, one has to pay the doctor’s visit charges of about 300-500 liras [$140-$230 -trans.] per session for a period of time. Once started after initial evaluation, hormone treatment may be continued under the supervision of family doctors in cases without complications.
We hear these things as well: an endocrinologist colleague makes an evaluation on a transsexual persons’ hormones in a state hospital. Once this is found out, many people go there. After a while, our friend is warned by the head physician who says “you are filling the place with these people, you will stop this.”
Which state hospital is this?
I would rather not give the name, so as not to cause trouble for those friends. But we learn that, in more than one state hospital, the administration makes it difficult for transsexual people and discriminates against them.
Do you think this warning is the head physician’s own initiative or is it a memo sent by the Ministry of Health?
It is not necessary for a lot of things to come from the very top. The administrators do it. It varies from head physician to head physician. Of course transphobia plays a huge role. No precautions are taken against hate crimes; gender identity or sexual orientation are not included in constitutional amendments. Neighbors as well as doctors then discriminate. For this reason, we as the Turkish Psychiatry Association and CETAD, particularly Seven Kaptan, Koray Başar, Nesrin Yetkin and Berna Özata, seek to inform doctors and prioritize education and training to decrease their transphobia.
Do you support the slogan “the State is the Perpetrator of Hate” for this year’s Trans Week?
I do not speak in slogans. But the perpetrator here is not the victimized individual. Socially speaking, everyone who causes the denial of rights to people because of their characteristics is also a culprit. And this ends with the state, not with anyone else.
“Age requirement was dropped from 30 to 18; there are folks who bring their 8 year old children“
How has the age of trans people who come to you changed since the 1980s?
The first group was close to 30 and above. The oldest was a 66 year old trans man, who had found a way to change his ID and lives like that. When I asked him ‘why do you care so much about surgery at this age?” he said “I do not want my body to be seen when I am dead; I do not want to embarrass my wife.” At the time it was mostly people above 35; later it dropped to people in their 20s. These days we get a lot of 16, 18, 20 year olds. I even see families bring their 8 year olds.
Are they bringing them because they suspect something?
They guess it. Of course it is impossible to say anything with 100 percent certainty at that early age. But it is important to inform the family about how to approach the child and how not to do it. Puberty is the period when we are most curious and excited about sexuality. Children must be able to live as they please during puberty. One of the biggest issues they experience is “they are going to use the restroom in middle school and high school; with which gender are they going to use the dressing room for PE classes?” Students can be more understanding than their teachers in this regard. In Turkey, families want to shape their children as they want; but the child must be able to behave as they wish and we need to give them space to develop.
“A definitive diagnosis is possible at age 16“
Is it possible to determine one’s orientation at age 16?
Yes, in a short time and with 100 percent certainty.
Is it possible to think differently in later years?
You can say this about one’s partners. One can say at 16 “I want to marry this person,” but at 26 wonder how they wanted that, yet at 36 they may prefer a partner of the same gender. This comes from within. Unless, of course, they are bisexuals who can have a relationship with both genders. Gender develops in the following way: people naturally think “I want to people to like me when they look at me,” but trans people say,”I want people to see a handsome man when they look at me; I feel very sad that they see a woman.” A biological woman may be overwhelmed with joy when someone hails her as a “young man.” A young man does not get so happy when taken to be a woman, but these are very important things for transsexual people. Not every man wants to wear a classic guy jacket, but trans men may wear it to emphasize their masculinity.
“About half of the trans individuals under the age of 21 in Turkey have attempted suicide“
Are you saying, “this is not an issue of making the wrong decision”?
If they have mental health issues, there may have been rare circumstances due to health reasons that make it difficult for people to know themselves. But you would see the characteristics of mental health issues in them anyhow. The importance of the age bracket 16-21 is this: trans individuals feel very lonely. Their friends do not understand them; their families keep taking them to doctors who promise gender reassignment or to religious teachers, and they see that it will not change and this can lead to high incidents of suicide.
When we did a study, the results were very high. About half of the trans individuals under 21 had attempted suicide. In studies done worldwide, this varies from 3 to 12 percent. In other words, always high.
“The Father used his Pilgrimage savings [for the surgery]“
When you look back at your 40-year adventure, are there points where you wish you had done things differently?
When you take your first case you are trying not to make a mistake. But you do not have experience. I did not know that I could ask “How would you like me to address you? Please make an appointment with the secretary under this name,” as I do today. I had not thought that trans individuals may wish to have children, that they have such a right. I learned these all later by both educating myself on experiences in different places around the world and by listening to them. One day a trans man came to me and said “we came to kiss your hands” [a gesture of respectful affection -trans.] and introduced me to his wife and seven-year-old son. That was so fulfilling and made me so happy, my eyes swelled with tears.
In time, my biggest change was my attitude towards families. I was a therapist with a trans-positive approach. The difficulties and needs of trans people had priority for me and I worked in opposition to those who caused them difficulty and harm. But a mother whose daughter is becoming a son, or a brother whose sister is becoming a brother also experiences difficulty. Relatives of trans people need to overcome this phase when they mourn their loss. They may not be able to support the person, even if this is their own child, if they do not go through this process. Once I grasped this, I established better communication with the families and could work better with them. But we do not sway from the end goal. Their siblings, children, cannot give up on becoming who they are because their relatives’ are upset.
There was one Murat in the 1980s, for example (trans men tend to like this name somehow). His family’s women had to be covered. This was true for Murat too. If his sister took off the headscarf, Murat would slap her. But Murat had a boy cut hair and did not cover it. Hadji Father accepted this. He is a 70 year-old man. Because I was just getting to know trans people, I did not know how to tell him about them. He was very traditional and very authoritarian. When the father came to me, I saw that he had accepted and internalized the fact. They taught me a lot of things and gave me hope. After resisting for a couple of years, a hadji father used for the surgery the money he saved for pilgrimage.
Would it be the same if it were a man who wanted to be a woman?
Mostly not. From the family’s perspective it is easier to accept women becoming men than men becoming women. But it is possible.
1 The Turkish word “abi” means “elder brother” but is also used colloquially to address any man who is older than the speaker. [trans.]
2 Bülent Ersoy is a Turkish trans woman celebrity and a famous singer of classical Ottoman music. [trans.]
3 This is meant as a sarcastic comment on Turkey, probably referring to its record of human rights violations. [trans.]
4 There was a coup d’etat in 1980 in Turkey, its third military coup in 20th century. [trans.]
5 Zeki Müren was a prominent singer, composer and actor. He was gay and dressed effeminately. He and Bülent Ersoy are the two iconic non-heteronormative stars in Turkish music and popular culture. [trans.]
6 The leader of the 1980 military coup. [trans.]
7 The ID cards are issued pink for women and blue for men. [trans.]
8 Turgut Özal was prime minister of Turkey between 1983-1989 and the president between 1989-1993. [trans.]
9 Rüzgar Erkoçlar is a model and actor who went public about his FTM gender reassignment with an interview. [trans.]