‘Red lipstick’ crisis at IMC TV

Source: “İMC TV’de ‘kırmızı ruj’ krizi” (“‘Red lipstick’ crisis at IMC TV”), Pembe Hayat, 16 September 2014, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=505

A trans employee of IMC TV, known for the news she covers on LGBT issues, has been sacked by her boss. The ‘red lipstick’ crisis, which had led to a protest by Turkish Airlines flight attendants, was cited among the reasons for the termination of Michelle Demishevich Kurt’s employment contract. Along with Michelle’s attire, her “attitude and conduct” constituted justification for her getting the axe.

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IMC TV’s correspondent spoke to Pembe Hayat after her employment contract was terminated. Michelle, explaining that within the last three months she had been heavily subjected to mobbing, said, “I was employed at a low salary, without insurance. Recently I was getting warnings about my clothes and the color of my hair. Finally even my use of red lipstick started to be a problem. These things are totally different from motives arising from transphobia.  It is on account of my identity as a woman that I was subjected to discrimination and marginalization. Women working at the organization are living witnesses to the fact that I was subjected to mobbing. When they learned that I had been sacked, they gave me great support; they encouraged me to fight.”

Stating that she had been summoned by the general manager of the organization this morning and her employment had been terminated, Michelle said, “They decided that we should part ways because they thought that I had violated professional ethics. According to what the general manager said, there was no problem with gender identity. My attitude and conduct reportedly caused a disturbance. It was not my gender identity, but my attire, the color of my hair, and my use of red lipstick that was considered intolerable. They tried to make me sign a paper stating that I waived my employee rights. My lawyer warned me and I did not sign it. At the moment I am an unemployed journalist.”

At the beginning of Michelle’s work on IMC’s news team, happenstance played a role, with her participating as a guest on a program where hate crimes were being discussed about two years ago. Noticing in the course of the program that Michelle had a face that was suited for the screen, the channel administrators made an offer to have her work with them. After two years worth of experience, Michelle voices her opinion on this channel, saying, “Look, it’s a business like all the others.”

After the termination of her employment, Michelle’s agenda includes organizing with an army of lawyers and initiating a lawsuit against the organization. A number of things, particularly issues like her employment without insurance, compensation through her employee rights and the imposition of sanctions against the mobbing to which she was subjected, will be matters awaiting settlement before the court.

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