The Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul hosted an event on Monday, June 17 for the GuestHouse photobook and film launch. The GuestHouse serves the trans community by providing mainly trans women who have no place to stay with a safe shelter. In the opening of the event, Consul General Bart van Bolhuis said that during such difficult political times in Turkey, the establishing of a place such as the trans Guest* House to provide a safe and supportive environment for the trans community is a very important endeavor, that the book and film projects are extremely valuable in helping promote awareness, and added that the Netherlands Consulate is very glad to have been able to support these projects.
The Consul General’s opening speech was followed by the screening of the film GuestHouse. The film shows some of the people living in the GuestHouse in their daily interactions, sharing with the viewer their struggles, worries, fears and dreams, and what the GuestHouse means to them. We see some ways in which the GuestHouse is run and supported, and some of the challenges and issues it faces. For a few minutes, the film leaves the viewer in raw silence with displays of photographs of the trans women living in the guest house. The film also shows trans activist and actor Seyhan Arman, talking about how the vision for the Guest*House is to operate it like a senior center with its own staff, doctor and psychologist providing medical support.
After the screening of the film, talks moderated by Kübra Uzun, were held with GuestHouse project curator Ipek M. Sur van Dijk, photography artist Ömer Tevfik Erten, writer Defne Çizakça and Doğukan Karahan from SPoD (Social Policy, Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Studies Association). Ipek M. Sur van Dijk recounted how she was introduced to Ömer and his work and how she was inspired by the impact of the artwork. Ömer and Defne shared with the audience the story of how they both met, the projects they’ve worked on together, their collaboration on the GuestHouse photobook and film projects, and future projects they plan to pursue.
Doğukan Karahan from SPoD shared the background and history of the GuestHouse, the way that it functions and how it has served and is continuing to serve the trans community. Doğukan also focused on the current issues facing the GuestHouse. He mentioned that the most pressing challenge has been the need to move to a new place. He added that finding a new place has not been easy due to funding limitations. He stated the urgency of the situation saying that they have overstayed their rent contract in their current location, that the owner of the building will not renew their contract and is asking them to leave. The audience asked questions to Doğukan and shared some ideas, brainstorming possible ways to resolve the problem.
The event ended with a networking reception in the consulate’s garden.