Author: lgbtinewsturkey

GNATs Committee on the Inquiry of Human Rights Hears the General Director of  Prisons and Detention Houses on the Status of LGBTI Individuals in Prison

According to a news report by Deniz Ayhan from Sözcü daily, at the briefing on the current status of prisons at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey’s Committee on the Inquiry of Human Rights, the general director of  prisons and detention houses Şaban Yılmaz announced that “there are around 200 LGBTI [individuals] in prisons and one trans individuals reassignment surgery was completed”

Source:  Şaban Yılmaz, the general director of  prisons and detention houses has informed Grand National Assembly of Turkey Committee on the Inquiry of Human Rights: “There are around 200 LGBTI [individuals] in prisons,we have carried out one person’s surgery upon request.” (“Ceza ve Tevkif Evleri Genel Müdürü Şaban Yılmaz, TBMM İnsan Hakları İnceleme Komisyonu’na bilgilendirmede bulundu: ‘Ceza evlerinde 200 civarında LGBTİ var, talep üzerine bir kişinin ameliyatını yaptırdık.’”), Pembe Hayat, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler/detay/1973/tbmm-insan-haklari-komisyonursquonda-mahpus-lgbtirsquoler-brifingi

“We even got one surgery done”

Yılmaz stated “LGBTI [individuals] have different preferences, so they have different demands as well. We even got one surgery done, a gender reassignment surgery. The person’s surgery took place in Istanbul Marmara University.”

According to the information given to Pink Life by Hilal Başak Demirbaş from Civil Society in Penal System (CISST), “The first gender confirmation surgery  that we know of in Turkey [for an inmate], took place in 2014 with the support of Kaos GL and CISST associations as well as the associations’ lawyers. As a result of the application an inmate ward has been opened in Bülent Ecevit and Marmara Universities.”

“Since 2014 we have received applications from many trans women and men who are in the process of gender confirmation and who are willing to get their confirmation surgery done. Although many applications were done on the basis of the exemplary surgery in 2014, we see that the process and the surgeries have not been carried out in due time. We are applying for inmate wards to be opened in hospitals where gender confirmation surgeries could take place. We know that recently a trans inmate who is doing time for political reasons has applied for a gender confirmation surgery yet the request was rejected on the grounds that ‘it’s not of crucial importance’. We also know that the trans inmate started a death strike as she was kept waiting.”

Recently, a trans inmate’s breast operation was accepted on the grounds that it was “required for the person’s psychological and physical health” by a report prepared by Kocaeli University Medical Science Forensic Medicine Department. The costs for the operation were covered by the Ministry of Health.

“It is an accomplishment of CSOs and activists working in the field that the breast operation was carried out with state support and that the state realises it is not just an “aesthetic” issue. It is also a health requirement. All trans inmates should benefit from such advancements  and the process should be carried out by the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses, with the assistance of CSOs working in the field of LGBTI and human rights.”

 

November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance will be marked across Turkey

This year, Transgender Day of Remembrance will be marked by discussions and a party organized by Pink Life Association and in collaboration with SPoD in Istanbul. Additionally, a meeting in İzmir will be organized by the Izmir November 20 Platform and in Antalya by BİZ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association.

From November 23-24th, Pink Life and SPoD will present several panels, a film screening, and then host a final party titled “You Can’t Call it Destiny!”  The party is scheduled for November 24th in Anahit Sahne, İstanbul and all proceeds will go to the clothing needs of trans inmates. The events that will take place include the Dilek İnce Pride Award Ceremony, an event where trans rights activists are awarded every year in memory of Dilek İnce–who was killed with a shotgun during the Eryaman incidents. (For more info, check out the page for this event here.)

Last year, the remembrance day activities were cancelled due to the blanket ban issued by the governorship of Ankara. This year the activists in İzmir and İstanbul, as well as all around Turkey, will continue showing support and solidarity on this important day. The İzmir November 20 Platform is comprised of Lavender LGBTİQ+, Genç LGBTİ+, the İzmir Branch of Human Rights Association, İzmir Ekonomi University Mor Kolektif, Buca City Council Equality Assembly, and Dokuz Eylül University Eşit Şerit. The platform is calling for a meeting in front of Türkan Saylan Culture Center at 18:00 on November 20 to “fight against those covering up the crimes against trans individuals who are subjected to hatred and rage on a daily basis at school, on the street, at home, and at the office and demand trans individuals have the right to live as well as their social and economic rights.” In Antalya, BİZ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association is calling for all who stand against hatred to meet in front of Attalos Statue at 18.00’ on November 20 to commemorate the victims of transphobic hate crimes.

Illustration: Aslı Alpar


(This article is compiled from news on www.pembehayat.org)

LGBTI individuals in German and Turkish tabloid press: Queer Invisibilities

The book Queer Invisibilities investigates LGBTI representation in the Turkish Hurriyet and German Bild newspapers. Yener Bayramoglu’s study brings a fresh perspective to queer historiography/history writing and archiving.

Source: “Almanya ve Türkiye bulvar basınında LGBTİ’ler: Kuir Görünmezlikler,” Kaos GL, 9 May 2018, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25774

The book titled Queere (Un-)Sichtbarkeiten (Queer Invisibilities), analyzes LGBTI representation in Hurriyet and Bild newspapers has been published with the help of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. The study by Yener Bayramoglu, a researcher living in Berlin, investigated LGBTI and queer representation in German and Turkish media. The book has been published in German. A Turkish translation is unavailable as of yet.

“As is the case in many areas, queer historiography also takes its foundation in the experiences of white males. The historic processes that closely affect Western white gay males are granted universality. In this framework, in almost all corners of the world, all queer subcultures are assumed to pass through similar historic milestones.”

Introduction to the Book

Tabloids under scrutiny

Queer Invisibilities proposes an alternative historiography. It takes at its center events that are rendered invisible in typical history writing. It uses tabloids as a basis, which are generally left out of queer theory.

Rather than ignoring the misrepresentations, invisibilities, and hate speech in tabloids, Queer Invisibilities proposes accepting these as a part of queer history. The book argues that history writing cannot be solely based on stories of heroism, success, progress, and advancement. Especially on the subject of queer history, it shows that the archives are largely full of sad, shameful, and wrong representations.

What does tabloid journalism do?

Another thesis put forward by Queer Invisibilities is that the tabloid press, in trying to scandalize queer individuals, in fact paves the way for the queerification of mainstream culture. Actually, it is thanks to tabloid journalism that queer representations, which did not exist in mainstream culture before, become a part of it. [The tabloids’] queer representations, which were wrought to scandalize, marginalize, and hide, were granted more visibility in the process.

Comparing Turkey and Germany

Another novel idea presented to queer theory by the book is the comparison between Turkish  and German print news. Due to the comparative analysis between the Hurriyet and Bild newspapers’ representations, different milestones, different stories, and different temporalities are made visible. This shows that a single, universal LGBT history cannot exist. In this respect, Queer Invisibilities puts forward the idea that the typical West – East opposition loses its meaning.

According to this study, while the Hurriyet archive is full of various rich queer representations, the German Bild newspaper is generally full of misrepresentations, deformed voices, and significant historic gaps arising from queer invisibility.

Toprak: “As a trans woman and a medical student, I want to be able to easily do my job”

Toprak, a 22-year-old medical faculty student, says, “I want a world where trans people are not burned to death, but a world where they are successful.”

Source: “As a trans woman and a medical student, I want to be able to easily do my job”, (Tıp Okuyan Bir Trans Kadın Olarak Mesleğimi Rahatça Yapabilmek İstiyorum), bianet.org, July 21, 2018, http://bianet.org/biamag/toplumsal-cinsiyet/199361-tip-okuyan-bir-trans-kadin-olarak-meslegimi-rahatca-yapabilmek-istiyorum

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Toprak is a 22-year-old medical faculty student. She has two more years before she graduates. She is trying to obtain a new identity card as a woman before she graduates because she wants her diploma to belong to her and not to state a gender identity assigned to her at birth.

Toprak was born in Antep. She attained a high score in the university entrance exam and came to Istanbul five years ago to study at the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine.

Toprak needs financial support in order to have gender reassignment surgery. She started a crowdsourcing campaign to accomplish this.

When she becomes a doctor she wants to be able to proudly hang her diploma on her office wall. She is worried that she will not get appointed and be discriminated against as a civil servant because of the male gender identity marker on her ID card.

Toprak says: “I want to break down prejudices and show people what transwomen can achieve. Transgender people are studying in many different fields. As a transwoman, I want to easily be able to do my job. I need people’s support to be able to have this gender reassignment surgery. I want a world where trans people are not burned to death, but a world where they are successful.”

As a transwoman and medical student, Toprak spoke with Bianet about her university life, future plans and her gender transition process.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Toprak and I am 22 years old. I am a fifth year medical student at Istanbul Faculty of Medicine. I am a transwoman.

Have you always lived in Istanbul?

No, I was born in Gaziantep. I passed the exam and got into a science-focused high school and studied there for four years before coming to Istanbul for university. I have been living in Istanbul for the past five years.

How is university life?

The first two years were quiet because I hadn’t started my transition process yet and I wasn’t out. I was identifying myself as gay back then. A year later, being openly gay, I started experiencing difficulties, mostly with my family. These did not have much of an impact on my university life. Because of their educational and cultural backgrounds, I did not actually receive any negative reactions from professors or fellow students.

I had only one traumatic transition process experience.

We read about this on social media. A professor at Istanbul University made transphobic statements. Where you in that class? Could you tell us what happened?

Yes. A professor was teaching hypogonadism and talking about pituitary glands, endocrine hormones, testosterone, and estrogen. The topic had nothing to do with transsexuality, but I got the feeling that it was going there.

The professor brought up the topic of transsexuality and said “Men without ovaries come and say, ‘I’m going to be a woman.’ These people are psychopaths. Upon receiving them, we refer them to psychiatry.”

He took out his ID card from his wallet and said, “Here’s a blue ID card. They work so hard to get a pink ID card. There were 250 students in the lecture hall. I was sitting at the back and the professor did not know I was trans. About 70-80 students busted into laughter together with the professor.

I stood up and said, “who are you calling a psychopath? I’m a transwoman.” He was surprised because he did not expect that there would be a transwoman in the lecture hall. He turned around and continued reading from his slides.

I said he needed to explain his statement in front of everybody since he had said this in front of everybody. He said “come and see me after class and I will explain this to you.”

This person is an endocrinologist, meaning he is working in an area that concerns trans people. It really baffles me why nobody ever complained about him because he is an extremely transphobic guy.

Did anybody in the lecture hall say anything?

No. So I shared what happened. I did not expect this to get around so quickly. I assumed people in the LGBT community would hear about it and that people would know about this person.

Things took a different turn when the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) began to support me.

How did the TMA support you?

I shared the incident on Twitter. Doctors from the TMA saw my tweet. They invited me to their board meeting and were very attentive. Their support came a few days after the incident. During those four days, I experienced some negativity at school.

What happened? I’m curious to know how the administration and students responded?

Medical students have a kind of a political stance…Actually, they don’t have a political stance, and they are apolitical. They put their careers first and ignore everything else. They treat people neither positively nor negatively. They are neutral. The university has a similar stance. They choose to remove themselves from the current affairs of the country.

That is why they tried to maintain neutrality, but the feminist club at the university showed great support. They wrote a piece, collected signatures from 11 other clubs and published the statement. I did not experience bullying or any kind of verbal violence. Apart from Twitter, I received a great amount of support.

How did the university administration deal with this?

Initially, they started an investigation against me.

Why did they start an investigation?

Because I had disclosed what the professor said.

Did they warn the professor?

No, they gave him no warning until the TMA stepped in. They treated the incident as if we were in elementary school. They called me in and asked, “Why did you do this? This should have stayed between us. Why did you have to tell everyone?” I felt terrible and I cried that day.

Later, my phone rang and the TMA invited me to their board meeting. Once the news reached the TMA, people in the medical community heard the professor’s transphobic statement. Then celebrities heard about it and they shared their reactions on social media. I never imagined so many people would hear about it.

How did these events impact the investigation started against you?

I found out that the investigation was dropped and that an investigation against the professor had opened instead.

I was a witness in the professor’s investigation and he also gave a statement. Honestly, it felt good to see that he was waiting at the door to explain himself.

Then they said he was penalized.

What was his penalty?

I’m not exactly sure, but they said that the professor was no longer authorized to give oral assessments for internal medicine. Internal medicine is a very important field and to give the oral assessment is considered a huge honor.

During this process, solidarity felt great. When I saw the power of solidarity, I decided to get funding for my surgery. A friend, studying architecture, said she started a campaign for herself and advised me to do the same. I decided to start a campaign because I urgently need to have my surgery.

Why is this so urgent for you?

Unfortunately, currently my ID card has the male gender marker. Surgery is a requirement to change your gender marker on your ID in Turkey.

Without having a female gender identity marker, I worry that I won’t be appointed. Over the past two years, there have been state security investigations against doctors. I worry that having a male gender identity marker on my ID card will impact my appointment. I am a fifth year medical student who will be graduating soon. That’s why I want to have my surgery before graduation.

The main problem for trans people regarding their diploma is the name written on it. It is necessary to change your name before graduating. If you change your name after you graduate, then there is no indication that the diploma belongs to you, making it almost null. I changed my name on my ID card recently. I started my transition a year ago and everything progressed quickly.

Which area do you want to specialize in?

Internal medicine or gynaecology. Fields such as psychiatry and surgery are important for LGBT people, but you need to have really good grades to be in these fields. We’ll see.

You spent this year working. What was your hospital experience like?

We spend many years studying, but after our third year we get to work and I like that we get to be in direct contact with patients and not spend much time at school.

Many of my professors and other students support me.

There is a certain perception of trans woman in society and when you do not fit that perception, they do not call you a trans woman. So far, I have not experienced any negative reactions from patients because they do not know that I am trans.

I used to shy away from patients having seen how patients’ relatives attack health workers.

The other day, one relative of a patient hit a doctor on the head with a brick. Imagine what a person might do to a trans woman…

This is why I do not disclose my trans identity to patients.

Could you tell us about what the transition process is like as both a medical student and as someone experiencing this?

You apply to psychiatry at a public hospital. In Istanbul you can apply to Çapa or Cerrahpaşa. They observe you for at least six months and first refer you to psychiatry and then to endocrinology. At endocrinology you get a hormone test and then you start taking hormones. This process takes about a year.

Social Security Insurance (SSI = public medical insurance) covers everything except hormone medications. Hormone medications cost about 150-200 TL a month. Doctors have now started to write medical reports for hormone medications. As a result, SSI covers hormone medications too.

What is the hormone therapy process like?

(For trans women) You take out testosterone from the body and take in estrogen. The hormones impact you. Your emotions change. The hormone perceived by the receptors change, in other words, the codes change.

For instance, when the lecture hall incident happened, I was feeling very vulnerable because it had been a few months that I had been taking hormones.

This continues for the first six months before your body starts adapting. I don’t feel like that anymore.

Does the surgery process start after that?

The most important thing is the surgery. At this point, transmen are luckier because mastectomy (removal of breasts) and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) are operations covered by SSI. Because these operations include removing of a part, the procedure is the same for any doctor. But surgeries such as vaginoplasty are highly risky since they involve creating something out of nothing.

SSI does cover this operation but there are no doctors who perform the procedure under this insurance. Even if there is a doctor out there who performs the operation under this insurance, it is really difficult to trust that doctor.

Why?

 

In medical school they do not teach you anything about transgender transition processes. If the person wishes, they self educate themselves after they graduate. If that person has no training, s/he cannot do the operation.

Doctors who specialize in these surgeries must be well known in the trans community then.

Yes. Because this operation is very important, I want to go to a good doctor to have my operation. One trans woman died at an operation two years ago. She was an activist and was living in Izmir. They said she died due to a complication that had derived from her. If the doctor had made a mistake, he would have been penalized anyway.

What kinds of complications arise during an operation like this?

There are complications that are repairable and complications that are more severe. Infections and clitoris dryness are the most common complications that are repairable. One friend didn’t go to a good doctor and got infected; had the surgery again and was hospitalized for three weeks. Another friend had clitoris dryness because the nerve cells were not stitched together well; she had a second operation and was hospitalized for a month.

I do not want to go through any complications. Also, I do not want to disrupt my studies. Attendance is compulsory.

How much does gender reassignment surgery cost?

About 20-30 thousand Turkish lira(3,600-5,400 Euro).

Homophobic lecture notes in the medical faculty of Istanbul University

The lecture notes for 4th year pediatric class in the medical faculty of Istanbul University refers to homosexuality as a disorder that must be treated.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “İstanbul Üniversitesi Tıp Fakültesi’nde homofobik ders notu,” kaosGL.org, 26 March 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25407

According to the lecture notes which were posted on social media by the 4th year students in medical faculty of Istanbul University, homosexuality is introduced as a “Temporarily growing tendency towards same sex interest to be carefully monitored and corrected.”

The student who spoke to KaosGL.org, stated s/he had shared these lecture notes on their social media account right away after seeing it, and that they don’t know which lecturer wrote it.

The student indicated that during their medical education they have come across similar homophobic and transphobic statements before and said: “the professor teaching endocrinology to the 4th year students also used insulting expressions to refer to transsexuals and females.”

Homosexuality is not a disease!

Psychologists, psychiatrists and other specialists for mental health have concluded that homosexuality is not a disease, a mental disorder or an emotional problem. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) took homosexuality off their list of mental and emotional disorders in 1973. In 1975, the American Psychological Association also moved to support this perspective. Both these associations warned mental health specialists to stop associating homosexuality with illness. This stance was reaffirmed by both institutions with new research. Additionally, in 1992 the World Health Organization removed the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the list of International Classification of Diseases. Turkish psychiatry also uses the version with homosexuality removed as a disease.

Here, you can find the Frequently Asked Questions brochure prepared by the Kaos GL NGO for frequently asked questions about homosexuality answered by specialists and life examples.

Attack on Stand for Hacettepe Queer Studies Community

A group of people who claimed to be the police attacked the stand opened to promote Hacettepe Queer Studies Community on campus.

Source: Gözde Demirbilek, “Hacettepe Kuir Araştırmaları Topluluğu standına saldırı,” kaosGL.org, 25 April 2018, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25663

Today (25th of April) the Hacettepe Queer Studies Community opened a stand with the purpose of promoting their community. Around 10:30, the community’s stand was attacked by a group of 10-15 people.

The community quoted the attack to KaosGL.org as follows:

“The leader of the attacker group said they were the police of the campus and that our stand, which was opened with the permission of Health, Culture and Sport Directorate, wasn’t legal, as they tore down the publications brought by KaosGL and the rainbow flag. They walked over to us while taking our photos and filming us. We tried to record a video of the attack we were subjected to. The person who claimed to be a police officer told us “I will take your statements”. While this attack was taking place, the security guards came and told us that we had to stay behind our stand. Meanwhile, people around us were pointing at us.”

“Finally, an officer from the Health, Culture and Sport Directorate came and told us that we had to close down our stand. After closing the stand we separated for some time because the group of attackers broke into smaller groups and continued keeping us under surveillance.”

I experienced an attack, how can I file a complaint?

Lawyer Kerem Dikmen from Kaos GL, explains how one can file a complaint if they experienced an attack or were exposed to a hate crime:

The easiest way to use your right to complain is to approach the law enforcement officials and inform them of your complaint. In places like a village which are under Jandarma’s jurisdiction you can submit your complaint to the station of Jandarma and, in central areas, to the police station.

You have to apply to the station responsible for the area/district in which the incident took place. If your complaint is not accepted, that’s an offense committed by the law enforcement officer who rejects it. If such a situation occurs, the officer could be accused of negligence.

Another option is to apply for prosecution with a written a petition. It’s beneficial to take some precautions before going to the prosecutor’s office. First, if there is a risk for the attack to happen again because of filing a complaint, first make sure of your own safety. Second, it gets (increasingly) difficult to confirm the injuries on the body as time passes. For this reason, you have to take a medical report in which the injuries are confirmed; preferably from a state hospital and if not, from a private hospital. Third, if possible, verify the locations of any surveillance cameras that recorded you. These could be at a bank, a state building or a workplace, or the could be private cameras people place around their houses/apartment to safeguard their surroundings. Also, take notes of the names of people who were in that place and if possible, their contact information; this will be necessary when referring to witnesses in the future. Finally, if you have any text messages related to the incident on your phone, you must not erase them. You must include all these documents and information in the petition you submit to the prosecutor.

If the reason of the complaint is a threat, you should definitely inform the police station if possible, if not be sure to inform the public prosecutor. Even if this can’t save you from any further physical harm by the attacker, the possible consequences may stop the attacker from carrying out the attack.

2018 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March Press Statement

LGBTI+ activists will be reading the following press statement from 18:00 on in every corner of Taksim, Istanbul.

The 16th Pride March has been banned by the Istanbul governor’s office for the third time [sic. fourth- pride has been banned since 2015]. The governor has once again committed a crime by discriminating against a specific part of society. Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI+ events with no end date and the obstacles towards Pride marches in the past years show these bans are not against actions but against ways of existing. The governor’s decision is part of the existent hate and is illegitimate. This is why Pride marches are important and they should take place. We LGBTI+ are here with our pride despite all vain attempts to prevent us and we do not recognize this ban.

The governor cited the excuse of security in its decision to ban the march and in one word, this is comical. Our marches went on peacefully without being banned for 13 years. These marches increased in size and created a space for us LGBTI+s who face hate because of our existence to feel safe and make our voices heard. Instead of this peaceful march, the hate crimes the state has committed and police violence have become undeniably visible.

Like every year, we are here, on these streets. Our laughter, our exclamations, our slogans still echo in these streets.

We miss the marches attended by thousands where we celebrate our visibility. We make fun of those who try to place boundaries on us by the pride of our existence and the strength of our pride.

We call on you to also make fun of those who try to place boundaries on our identities, orientations, existences, bodies, languages, desires and everything that make us us. We grow as we transcend our own boundaries and become freer. We extend our boundless, non-gendered spaces into the streets. We stand against those who try to confine us within boundaries and force us into ghettos, those who try to push us out and change our spaces: we don’t give up on Taksim.

Now, from here: From Taksim, we greet Buse who is imprisoned in Tekirdag within the state’s transphobic law. Twenty six days ago Buse said stop to the boundaries imposed on her body and started a death fast. We shout once again that the state’s bans and legal obstacles are political and will not deter us from our fight to exist.

We are here with our enthusiasm and energy to give strength to not just us but everyone who has been bound by one man’s will in this geography. We remind all of society that without us, the struggle against the one-man regime will not succeed.

We are in Taksim, we are determined to transcend boundaries, we are not going anywhere. May our 26th Pride Week be merry and happy for all of us.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/istanbulpride/photos/a.191888724272082.41018.160223430771945/1679726622154944/?type=3&theater