Source: Derviş A. Akkoç, “Mehtap Cansın, İntihar ya da “Yapamadım!” (“Mehtap Cansın, Suicide or “I could not do it!”” )Birikimdergisi.com, 07 January 2015, http://www.birikimdergisi.com/guncel/mehtap-cansin-intihar-ya-da-yapamadim
Trans woman Mehtap [Eylül] Cansın committed suicide by jumping off the Bosphorus Bridge on January 5, 2015. Death has become so ordinary in this society that I have no doubt this suicide will be brushed aside like the other suicides. It will be completely forgotten since the person who is dead is not one of “us” due to her sexual preference. I do not know if I should either say “what a pity!” or “such a shame!” Mehtap Cansın was only 24 years old. She recorded a video right before she committed suicide. At her last moment and with her last breath she voiced her complaint, trying to explain her situation one last time and to reach out to others:
I’m sending kisses to all of you. Today is the best of my days, I am very happy. But today will be another beautiful day for me. I thank everyone. I love everyone. Many were my friends, but apparently not. I leave everyone to their conscience, I can’t do this anymore. This is what I figured out. I do the things everyone wants, the way they would like it. I kiss all of you. 2015! I was born in 1992. I should be 24 right now, but I am ending my age at 24 instead. I kiss everyone. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it, because people did not let me. I could not work. I wanted to do things, I couldn’t do them. Do you understand? They constantly stood in my way. They victimized me. I leave everyone to God. And right now I am going towards Bosphorus Bridge. You will hear my name on the pages of the newspapers tomorrow, it can be on the 3rd or 4th or maybe on the 1st page. I kiss all of you, may God protect you. May God protect you…
Most probably newspapers will have bigger and more important agendas tomorrow, Mehtap Cansın’s name will probably not be mentioned on the first page, but on the later pages. She knows it too: “it can be on the 3rd or 4th.” Worse is that her name may not be there at all. People will think, “What was she worth when she was alive? What does it matter when she is dead?” If the act of suicide means the subject pronounces herself through death, opening the existence itself to the world through death one last time, then it is that life that causes death that needs to be questioned, not the death itself. There is no doubt that this life was a living hell for Cansın. No wonder she repeats “I couldn’t do it” so many times: “I wanted to do things, I couldn’t do it, they stood in my way.” And right after she adds: “Do you understand?” Do we understand what? “Can’t do it” anymore, getting stuck at a certain point, to be held back, to have her life and soul devoured. Is it these things we are to understand? These are all results. A life depreciated, meanings and values scattered, the limit of “living another day just to spite the enemy” far passed. These are all results too.
There is a solid reason for this tragic inhibition: It is not a coincidence that the verb “can’t do” is followed by the phrase “I could not work” — It means working but not being able to sustain your biological life sufficiently. Does the issue boil down to livelihood again? Does it get tangled up in that ancient “hunger” and “poverty” problem that humanity is looking forward to resolving? I guess so. In this useless social system we live in, a subject that can’t work is taken to be a subject that is unable. She is unskilled, she lacks reason, she is unable to find ways to make money, she is inclined to a life of crime, she does not produce value, as such she is not taken into account, and will naturally be pushed out; if she is not killed or shut off, she is held in the margins at best. The buffoons that hold the strings of the bourgeois society are those thugs who have managed to keep the act of “doing” limited to just working. Furthermore, without working themselves, as Karl Marx underlines: “They spread the lie that they earned their wealth which in fact they obtained through extortion, inheritance, conquest, exploitation.”
Mehtap Cansın’s cry “I could not do it” is a much more horrendous scream than the act of suicide, a protest that goes much deeper in. To do is to be a subject, is action, is to expand, to spread in the human sense; being unable to do is the fall back to a lower level from the human level, it is to regress to the animal existence, if I am to speak more clearly. Surely the existence of this kind of subjects is excess. This sense of “excessiveness” is in no way an acceptable state of being. In a social existence where everything is constructed upon uniformity, isn’t coping with unemployment, on top of it all, equal to being buried alive? What does it matter? Who these subjects that “victimized” Cansın are in this case? The act of suicide reveals those who are directly responsible : “I could not do it because people did not let me.” Yes, people! It is such a clear answer. Those who are human should take it personally: Everyone has a share in this decay. The words “God” and “conscience” echo together in Mehtap Cansın’s speech, with the condition of “being left alone with.” But on the other hand, it is clear that she frankly loves people, she is not angry, she merely reproaches but she does not judge, she keeps sending kisses to people she never knew. She says “may God protect you all” when she can say “God damn you.”
Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association published a press release titled “Trans Suicides are political too”. How painful it is to see that adverb “too” in this sentence. Such a great inhibition towards life emerges only in an adverb which shoulders the burden of the politics too. The title is definitely right, “trans suicides are political too.” But it means this as well: the other acts and actions of trans individuals, including their work and unemployment, is political. Their existence, from head to toe, is in fact political. This is where it gets all tangled up: This politicalness is not visible enough and has no representative mechanism in societies beyond reason, such as ours. Capitalist division of labour opens its doors to those with clear demarcation of gender. Trans individuals do not even carry those infamous “papers”* bearing the seal of recognition of the modern political power on their bodies; they are exempt from the sacred tax that sustains the apparatus of state. This is the reason why they are violently persecuted by various public safety forces such as the police, shop owners, neighborhood folks and clients. Trans individuals as political subjects cannot express themselves in the public sphere, meaning they are not seen. When they are seen they are despised, insulted, pushed aside, beaten to death in a corner or against a wall, and killed.
Is the urge “to draw attention” or “to be noticed” not another reason of the suicide? Cansın points out to a stern reality with the only weapon she has, her life: Mehtap Cansın is yet another wretched one of the earth branded with inequality, displaced in an alien world. The time will come for the wretched of the earth as well, God is almighty…
*”Papers” or “vesika” is a state-approved ID card which shows that the sex worker is registered.
Having suicidal thoughts? Please, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/
To the best of our knowledge, the online and IRL resources below will provide you with a safe and non-judgmental space.
Table of Contents
IRC / Chatlines
- The Trevor Project Chatline, available 7 days a week (3pm-9pm ET / 12pm-6pm PT).
- Freenode.net chatroom/channels: #transspace
- National Suicide Prevention Chatline, 24/7.
- GLBT National Chatline, available 6 days a week (monday-friday 1pm-9pm PT / 4pm-midnight ET; saturday 9am-2pm PT / noon-5pm ET).
- Lifeline Crisis Chat, available 7 days a week (2pm-2am ET).
- RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, 24/7.
Communities / Forums / Safe Spaces
- FAQs about crisis hotlines – via Reddit
- The Trevor Project, USA, 24/7: 1-866-488-7386
- Trans Lifeline, Canada: 1-877-330-6366; USA: 1-877-565-8860 (schedule)
- List / index of crisis centers around the world: via Reddit; via International Association for Suicide Prevention; via Befrienders Worldwide
- The Trevor Project, USA, Fridays (4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT): Text the word “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200. Standard text messaging rates apply.