Discrimination & Hate Crimes

Discrimination and Hate Crimes committed against LGBTI in Turkey

Bitopya: Another universe is possible for the bi+ people!

Bitopya is a new platform founded by Umut Erdem. Umut has been writing about monosexism, normativity and bisexuality in contributions to the bi+, vegan and feminist struggles. In this interview, we walk together on the path to Bitopya (bitopia): The invisibility of bi+ existence, the pressing necessity for accesible and correct information on bisexuality in order to get rid of the stereotypes that reign over both the LGBTI+ movement and the heteronormative society , different layers of rescuing sexuality from the hegemony of norms…these are all the stations we will stop by. As LGBTI News Turkey we are excited to follow Bitopya in its journey and would like to thank Umut for taking their time for this interview!

First of all, we would like to get to know you and the crew.

My name is umut erdem (they/them). I’m the founder of Bitopya ☺. I have been actively pursuing bi+politics for a long while. I have been producing content on this subject and in 2019 I became one of the organizers of Bi+ Pride İstanbul which was the first of its kind to take place in Istanbul. We realized the Bi+ Pride together with dear Zeynab Peyghamberzadeh, another bi+ activist. I also organized a Bi+ Visibility Workshop during Pride Week in İzmir last year. In 2018, I prepared a Bi+ pamphlet together with Gözde Demirbilek, under Kaos GL’s roof.

 I live in Istanbul, I earn my living working in a private institution. I am a feminist and a vegan, I also do activism in these fields. Bitopya itself is a field of activism for me. The website was realized thanks to transfeminist activist Ecemen who helped me build the site. Ecemen had also created the website lgbtisagligi.org. This gave us the opportunity to work together. For now, I’m translating the texts about bi+ politics and bi+ healthcare, the ones which I read before and thought “these must definitely be translated to Turkish”. Yet I also need other pairs of eyes to check the translations and to contribute. I can’t really call it a crew but there are definitely collaborations. My friends with whom I exchange ideas and talk about bisexuality and bi+ politics have an important role in the creation of Bitopya.

Umut, your name will definitely ring a bell for our readers from Turkey, how did you come up with the idea to build the website? 

The idea of the website was mine. I personally really needed a true bi+ digital platform. This was my main motivation to realize it. Bisexuality is already an easily erased, invisible position, furthermore, both the lgbti+ and the feminist politics regard it as an intersection rather than an entity of its own. On social media, bisexuality is often targeted and there are many negative, judgemental and biased content, even hate speech about bisexuality. Therefore, I imagined a universe where we can respond to all of this. 

The need to increase the visibility of bi+ politics in Turkey was also a great motivation. I applied to sivildüşün and their support helped me realize the project. Since I know English, I aim to put bi+ people in the agenda of lgbti+ and feminist politics by translating articles about the bi+ politics and bisexual health published abroad. I thought that it would be a big step forward to create a source of information to battle against both the invisibility and the bias, stereotypes, hate speech and dire lack of information about the bi+. I can say Bitopya was born out of the passion to create a universe where we can try to oust monosexism and biphobia out of our lives, ways of thinking and acting; just like we have been struggling against discrimination, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. 

As its name aptly expresses, bitopya carries the aim to expand the horizons through new imaginings for bi+. What do you think is the work and role of digital activism?

It is surely not just tweeting ☺. It doesn’t matter how much that tweet is faved or retweeted. I find the power of social media significant, but I doubt that one tweet or one long flood of political discourse are digital activism. My questioning of the scope of digital activism pushed me to create the website. In my opinion, digital activism should carry the aim to counter the disinformation on social media and promote a healthy platform for debate, dialogue and contact. I’m also motivated to do digital activism for bi+ politics resisting hate speech against the bi+ people. I see so many biphobia ridden tweets written by users who would not accept their biphobia. I am trying to make the digital media a safer place for bi+ people, against monosexism and biphobia. This is what digital activism means for me as well. It is to carry out work of awareness-building without creating opposite poles, without siding with violence; caring for information exchange, healthy communication, equality and inclusion instead.  

How is the “B” and the “+” faring in the LGBTI+ movement of Turkey? How would you describe the hardships of being bi+ in Turkey? Is it any different around the world? 

It is as if bisexuality amounts to nothing. It might sound too tough but this is how it seems. We have just begun to walk on the paths opened by the subjects themselves. If it weren’t for them, no one would think about it. Of course there is a history to it all and it has only become possible to speak about bisexuality through the struggle of the bisexual feminists under the feminist movement, not just the LGBTI+ movement. 

People have been trying to build paths to bi+ politics and bisexuality specifically since 2015. We can say that 2019 has been more promising. But only thanks to the resilience and rebellion of the subjects themselves….The erasure of bisexuals continues, because there are only a handful of people struggling against the lack of information and prejudice. Due to this lack of knowledge, people overlook the fact that bisexuality is a range, an umbrella identity and existence. We try to put it in the literature as “bi+”. We try to put monosexism in literature. 

This is a new struggle of course. Our awareness as subjects is also quite new. Because it is ignored to such an extent that we got used to existing and practicing politics within an intersection of different ways of being.And then there is phobia and hatred. Such atmosphere prevents you from noticing the internalized biphobia. It is quite tragic. I for one can not separate the “+” from bisexuality. The politics of Bitopya is never independent or detached from “+” and trans politics. Because it carries the aim to expose the relationship and intersection of the systems built on binaries and on social consensus. This is why it is a difficult but not an impossible struggle. The steps we take to rid our thinking and judgements of those binaries, to think outside the binaries, to develop arguments and to refrain from generalizations will prioritize “B” and “+” in LGBTI+ movement. 

There is this supposed aim to not fall in the trap of gender binaries in general but I don’t think it’s practiced in reality. Language and politics are still built on the binary of homosexual vs. heterosexual. Bi+ politics criticizes this very binary and relates it to the other constructed binaries. If in fact the critique of binaries was carried out, no one would take the bait of homosexual/heterosexual binary.

There are hardships that begin with the moment of coming out as a bisexual: being invalidated, others’ expectations of proof, not being taken seriously and being showered with disapprovals. The negative experiences in relationships and the traumas have a great impact on your existence and your desire. You take your share from the hierarchy which sides with experience over desire. You can not come out. It all goes back to before you come out anyway. All the hate speech, prejudice, stereotypes, judgements and vilification conditions you and prevents you from finding a representation. In any case there can not be a representation which says “yes, this is bi+”. At least it can not be monolithic. 

Under  such circumstances you experience the absence of characters which identify as bisexual on media or encounter stereotypical representations unfortunately. You are eliminated by being sweeped under one roof. “Gay marriage”, “gay couple”, “lesbian films”, “gay representations”. Bisexuality is never imagined. Why would something laden with so many prejudices and disavowal be imagined anyway? Let’s say you did come out, then you are labeled as supporting binary gender. I’ve encountered this interpretation so many times. You are never queer enough, you are always so binary. Who has the right to come up with these judgements? The idea of bisexuals as being one homogenous group dominates the perspectives. I thought we were advocating for diversity? Let’s face it, we hit a wall when it comes to the matter of bi+ people☺. 

You suffer from not being able to reflect on monosexism or to make it an item in the agenda; you are assigned an orientation based on the person you are with, and depending on that you are either let in or cast out of the lgbti+ community. You are either perceived as a privileged person living their life stepping on others or as someone who suffers too if you are with a person of same gender at that particular moment. I don’t think you can disrobe your privilege depending on who you are with. It’s not like “bam” now I’m not privileged, because my partner is not of the same gender or is not regarded as normative, or “voila” I’m privileged now because my partner is of another gender identity. How can that be? Is this a game of musical chairs? We need to question this fixed, generalizing, clearly delineated way of thinking.

The situation is no different elsewhere in the world. Although I feel like there would be local differences, as far as I can follow, it is all quite universal: The invisibility, ostracization, exposure to negative bias, the binary thinking mechanism in society and the movement. The translations in Bitopya are not in vain  

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Bitopya website design and illustrations are made by Ecemen.

Since we are already in outer space, looking back at the world, let us also ask: An important mission of Bitopya is translation. You and LGBTI News Turkey have a common issue: To build a bridge between the bi+ folks in Turkey and around the world. What do you think is the significance and function of translation? What is the potential of the exchange that the internet provides for the LGBTI+ movement?

If we consider the fact that many LGBTI+ people use the internet and express themselves online more, we can see that our work is quite important. We have the potential to reach a lot more people. We can reach out to those who don’t breathe the same air with us or live in the same neighborhood. On its own the internet is a means that brings so many people together on a common ground. Yet we see that it also becomes a disadvantage when the social media is misused. 

That coming together also musters strength through polarization. Bitopya aims to disseminate its politics and its discourse without falling in that trap. A great lack of knowledge about bi+ politics reigns in Turkey. This is why it is crucial for me to follow what’s going on around the world. There are lots of sources in English but Turkey is unaware of that content, which makes Bitopya itself a responsibility. Not everyone knows English, therefore I wanted to translate the sources in English to Turkish. It was very vital that we have a particularly bi+ source and platform, otherwise bi+ existence is easily overlooked and not reflected upon. I thought that it was necessary to fight against the misinformation and hate speech disseminated on the internet, by creating such a platform. This is a choice after all. I hope it will reach a wider audience. 

Creating such a platform leads to international solidarity and communication as well, because the translation is not just a service for the readers in Turkey or a means of action, it leads to a contact with the owner/author of the translated content. Then that person also shares Bitopya. Next thing you know, Bitopya does not only reach Turkey anymore☺.  

Providing the transformation of language is another vital issue. It takes extra work to think about how to translate the English terms to Turkish and how to localize them while breaking the binaries reproduced in language.  My wish is to be able to introduce a link from the website against any misinformation or hate speech circulated on the internet, and to render Bitopya’s content widespread. I believe that this way people will no longer have a chance to ignore it anymore. We see the first steps in this path and I believe it will grow stronger. 

Let us briefly talk about the sections on the website too: Bi+ politics, bisexual health and bisexual history. How did these titles come about? Are you thinking of adding new titles? Will we see original content too? We are very excited!

It’s quite exciting for me too ☺, I’m happy that it resonates with you. The section “bi+ politics” introduces bi+politics pursued abroad to Turkey and to Turkish. “Bisexual health” provides articles about the impact of monosexism and biphobia on bisexual healthcare, to the health conditions that may be overlooked under the banner of LGBTI+ health and to the bi+ people’s access to healthcare. 

Bitopya also introduces videos published by the #StillBisexual video campaign with Turkish subtitles. This section will continue to be updated as well. #StillBisexual is a video content campaign developed by activist and writer Nicole Kristal in 2015. Bisexuals share various stories about their orientations at #StillBisexual and the hashtag aims to fight the negative bias and myths about bisexual, in order to develop an awareness about bisexuality as a range of existences.   

One of the reasons why bisexuality is lesser known is because its history is lesser known. Moving forwards with that idea, Bitopya aims to create awareness through the translation of the bihistory page. There will of course be additions. There are some ideas waiting to be realized in video format. I also want to dig deeper in bi+ history of Turkey. I’m not sure what you mean by original content but there will be new stuff for sure. Stay tuned!☺. 

Some of our readers may share the dreams of Bitopya and may wish to contribute to the site, especially our English speaking readers.  How can they contribute?

We will develop Bitopya together in fact. Maybe they can come up with an idea about how they can contribute when they look into the website. There can be help with translation. They can send articles either in Turkish or English. When we receive a text in a language other than English or Turkish, we need help with translation, so if you are fluent in other languages you are welcome to help. We had translated an article Zeynap wrote in ILGA before, about bisexual asylum seekers. It is very valuable to hear more about this issue. We are open to contributions in design and illustration. Our horizons are wide open as to how to grow together. I do not want to approach Bitopya as an editor, I see it as a platform shaped by togetherness, contact and sharing. 

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Bitopya’s logo is also designed by Ecemen.

It’s hard not to notice how beautiful your logo and web design is. Who is the designer? We definitely have to credit their contribution. 

Ecemen designed the website as well as building it. It is surely a work of the harmony between our imagination and ideas. I always say, if it weren’t for Ecemen, there wouldn’t be Bitopya.☺ 

We would like to thank Umut for taking their time for the interview. If you would like to get in touch with Bitopya, send an e-mail to bitopya.org@gmail.com

Don’t forget to follow bitopya.org ! Sharing is caring!

Social media accounts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bitopya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitopyaOrg

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bitopya

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHhuPAUXMwf34utc4YlCATA

 

How is the trans sex workers’ right to work being violated in Turkey?

On the occasion of the 3rd of March International Sex Workers’ Rights Day, for the KaosGL readers, we have compiled the details of how the right to work, which is one of the fundamental rights of trans sex workers, is being violated and how this violation can be combated. 

Source: “How is the trans sex workers’ right to work being violated in Turkey?” (Türkiye’de trans seks işçilerinin çalışma hakkı nasıl ihlal ediliyor?), Aslı Alpar, Kaos GL, 3rd of March, 2020 https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/turkiye-de-trans-seks-iscilerinin-calisma-hakki-nasil-ihlal-ediliyor

According to the Constitution’s relevant article on the right to work, “work” is defined as “the right and duty of everyone”.

The same article includes the following statement: “the state takes the necessary measures to increase the quality of the employees’ lives, to protect the employees and the unemployed in order to improve working life, to support the work, to create an economic environment suitable for preventing unemployment, and to ensure peace of work.”

However, when it comes to sex workers, the right to work, which is one of the fundamental rights in the Constitution, is violated. Trans sex workers are exposed to discrimination based on gender identity as well as violations of the right to work.

So, by what means do the laws, those who work for the implementation of the laws, and the law enforcement forces violate trans sex workers’ right to work?

1 – The Law of Misdemeanours

The law of misdemeanours is a law defining various misdemeanours “in order to protect the social order, public morality, public health, environment and economic order.”

In this law, there is no article that defines the work of sex workers as misdemeanours. However, by using this law, law enforcement officers frequently impose administrative fines on sex workers who find customers on the street.

It is possible to fight against the fines imposed by the articles 32, 36 and 37 of the Law through the Criminal Court of Peace. You can use this link to reach an example of the petition that should be written against administrative fines, which was prepared by the Pembe Hayat LGBTI + Solidarity Association.

2 – The Law of Highway Traffic

Another tool used to violate sex workers’ right to work is the Law of Highway Traffic and the Highway Traffic Regulations enacted in relation to this law. Administrative fines are imposed on sex workers by using the first paragraph of the Article 68 of the Law, which regulates the rules for pedestrians.

The relevant article states, “The pedestrians who are on pedestrian roads, crossings or highways when necessary, are prohibited from acting in a way that will prevent or endanger the traffic.”

Sex work is not prohibited in the Turkish Criminal Law. In order to arbitrarily prevent sex workers from their works, the Law of Misdemeanours and the Law of Highway Traffic are being used to punish sex workers, although these laws do not contain the relevant provisions.

3 – Fines to the business cards

Business cards used by sex workers were sent to court under the article 226 of the Turkish Criminal Law, which regulates “obscenity”. After removing their photos, which had been seen as obscene images, from the cards, the sex workers faced another problem after the state of emergency.

The article 227 of the Turkish Criminal Law, which is one of the bag bills enacted during the state of emergency, was amended under the Law on the Amendment of Some Laws and the Criminal Procedure Law No. 6763 published in the official newspaper on December 2. According to this article, “prostitution” is not taken as a crime, but it is forbidden to advertise “prostitution”.

4 – Tracking on social media

Another practice that usurps the sex workers’ right to work is tracking on social media and law enforcement forces raiding houses. By hiding their identities and acting like a client, these officers make contact with the sex workers who use social media to communicate with the clients after the ban on business cards. Then, they go to the sex workers’ houses and impose fines. 

5 – Red tagging the houses, closing the streets

Another violation tool of the administration is to seal the houses with red tags and to close the streets.

Bornova Street in İzmir, where trans sex workers often work, for a while was closed every night the law enforcement forces and the trans people’s right to work was violated. Trans sex workers, whose rights and freedoms are restricted unlawfully in the closed street, are deprived of the procedural security granted to persons in case of detention, and the “medical examination” that must be carried out in custody is skipped.

Red tagging the houses where the trans sex workers work and live leads to another violation of the rights. In addition to being left homeless, the sex workers whose work and housing rights are being violated as a result of the red tags at their houses are not able to work until the tags are lifted.

 

Illustration: Aslı Alpar The person on the illustration says “Turkish Penal Code does not consider sex work to be a crime”.

LGBTI communities in Turkey mark the International Sex Worker Rights Day

March 3   International Sex Worker Rights Day was celebrated in Turkey with panels and meetings. Here is a short summary of the events organized by LGBTI+ communities in Turkey:

Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association held a meeting at the Nonviolent Education and Research Center in Istanbul. At the meeting, Efruz Kaya spoke about the history of the struggle of sex workers in Turkey for their rights, members of LİSTAG stated that they will try and focus more on the issues of the sex workers in their own agenda. Jiyan and Dilara from Legal Assistance against Sexual Violence Association also emphasized the need for joint struggle against the violence of law enforcers against sex workers in Turkey.

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Kaos GL published Aslı Alpar’s article on which law articles are used by law enforcers when violating the sex workers’ right to work in Turkey.

The Kadıköy  City Council LGBTI+ Assembly came together with trans sex workers residing in Kadıköy. Trans sex worker women talked about the rights violations they experience and their demands as residents of the city, the participants discussed ways in which a safer and freer living spaces in the city can be created for trans sex worker women. The event aimed to increase the active participation of the trans community of Kadıköy in local politics.

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Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club will hold a panel on March 5 to mark the International Sex Worker Rights day at the campus, with the participation of activists and sex workers Svetlana, Zelal Demir and Hazal Yüksel.

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Trans woman inmate Ida is on hunger strike

Trans activist Diren Coşkun has announced that İda Koçak, a trans woman inmate, has started a hunger strike after she was denied vegan meals in prison. Today is the eighth day of her strike. Koçak has repeatedly demanded vegan meals which was denied by the prison administration.  Pink Life Association has contacted the psychosocial support unit of the prison and requested information about the current situation. Trans, inmate and human rights advocates have launched a hashtag campaign to raise İda’s voice, with the hashtag #idayasesver .

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Trans women inmates have been facing many discriminatory practices under incarceration. Diren Coşkun herself was on a death fast in 2018, demanding her right to gender confirmation surgery and an end to her confinement in solitary confinement.  In September 2019, Miray, a trans woman inmate from Alanya L Type Prison, started a hunger strike as the prison administration kept LGBTI+ inmates in solitary confinement based on their gender identity. On August 2019, trans woman inmate Buse mutilated herself after being kept in a solitary confinement in a men’s ward and denied gender confirmation surgery. Similarly, trans woman inmate Esra Arıkan has repeatedly started hunger strikes due to the inhumane conditions of her imprisonment, such as being confined to a solitary cell, physical abuse and torture as well as harassment. After a ten year long battle, Arıkan finally got her gender confirmation surgery and was transferred to a woman’s prison. However, last year on August, Arıkan was once more on strike, seeking proper medical attention.

 

UPDATE: İda’s demands were met the next day (21.02.2020) and she ended her hunger strike after receiving a vegan meal.

ILGA-Europe’s #AnnualReview2019 is now out!

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ILGA Europe’s annual review covering the period of January and December 2019 is published. The Turkey chapter was drafted in coordination with team members of LGBTI News Turkey. Once more, Turkey ranks 48 among 49 countries, with a score of 5%. You can read the Turkey chapter here and the full report here.

Below we share the press release on the report:

Annual Review of the situation of LGBTI people paints a picture at odds with a widespread notion that in Europe the work is done

Launched today [February 4, 2020] , the 10th edition of ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review details the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the 49 European countries, and the five countries of Central Asia. Created with LGBTI activists and experts on the ground, the Review also identifies trends, both current and on the rise.

This year’s review, which charts developments during the 12 months of 2019, paints a complex picture that diverges from the widespread narrative that all is well for LGBTI people in large parts of Europe. Central to this is a sharp rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech carried out by public figures across Europe – in countries ranging from Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey, to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the very real consequences of this for LGBTI individuals and groups. In many countries across the European and Central Asian regions, and not only those with a documented growth in official bias-motivated speech, there has also been an equally sharp increase in online hate-speech and physical attacks on LGBTI people, many of the latter premeditated and brutal.

The review identifies that this is a pan-European phenomenon, from the UK where the populist narrative surrounding Brexit can be linked to an increase in anti-LGBTI hate crimes and incidents, to the banning of events in many towns and cities on the continent, the prosecution of participants in Pride marches in Turkey, and a growing presence of anti-LGBTI and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during LGBTI events across the region.

Alongside the rise in hatred, there is increased movement of people from within the region to countries perceived as less harsh. More LGBTI people left countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan for neighbouring countries where the situation might be perceived as relatively safer. There is also an anecdotal rise in people saying they want to leave countries like Poland for other EU countries.

Reported obstacles in access to healthcare, bullying in schools and the workplace, and LGBTI people being denied services, often with a lack of governmental intervention, all play a part in the overall picture of a Europe where lived experiences for a large part do not match up with the surface message that LGBTI rights and equality have been fully secured.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “It is not all bad news. The issue of bodily integrity for intersex people continues to gain more prominence on the political agenda of governments and institutions. 2019 was a year of positive developments for rainbow families in the region, with an expansion of family rights in a few countries; and important advancements continue to be made on reforming or establishing legal gender recognition procedures, even if in many countries progress is slowing down.

“However, the lived reality of LGBTI people in many parts of Europe and Central Asia is increasingly difficult and for a large part remains invisible, even to organisations like ILGA-Europe. Action is needed. Governments still have so much to do, from adopting laws that guarantee the protection of people’s rights and giving public authorities the means to translate policy into practice across sectors, to leading by example in having a discourse promoting social acceptance and inclusion.

“By making people aware of such a broad and nuanced picture, which is constantly shifting and evolving, the ILGA-Europe Annual Review aims to give a sense of the enormity of issues and areas that affect the lives of people, which will continue to require attention, especially in a context where LGBTI people are being targeted and vulnerability is heightened.”

Trans Istanbul Initiative is Established

The Trans Istanbul Initiative, formed by a group of trans people who come together at Trans Therapy Group meetings, aims to work towards removing barriers to fundamental rights and freedoms.

Source: “Trans Istanbul Initiative is Established”, (Trans İstanbul İnisiyatifi kuruldu), kaosgl.org, January 2, 2020, https://www.kaosgl.org/haber/trans-istanbul-inisiyatifi-kuruldu

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Referring to the constitution’s 10th and 17th articles on fundamental rights, the initiative lists the most fundamental rights violations in their opening statement. The Initiative invites everyone to show solidarity and organize, “In order to fight against transphobic and heterosexist violence that we experience in all areas of life; together, we are going to create spaces that empower us.”   

“We invite all LGBT+ to empower each other”

The Initiative’s opening statement is as follows:

“According to the 10th article of the constitution, ‘Everyone, regardless of language, race, color, gender, political thought, philosophical belief, religion, sect and other similar reasons, is without discrimination, equal before the law.’ However, the equality clause does not include gender identity and excludes us trans people from constitutional security offering no protection against discrimination.

Again, according to the 17th article of the constitution, ‘Everyone has the right to life, to the protection and development of their material and spiritual existence.’ However, within the existing social, economic, political and legal order, we are first and foremost prevented from accessing our most basic rights, especially our right to life; including access to health, work, housing and education.

To eliminate the obstacles to our fundamental rights and freedoms and to fight against the transphobic and heterosexist violence we are exposed to in all areas of life; together we will create spaces that will strengthen us all. With this aim, as trans people that have come together at the Trans Therapy Group meetings, we planted the seeds of the Trans Istanbul Initiative. The Trans Therapy Group meetings have been held on the first Wednesday of every month in Istanbul since 2013 providing trans people with psychosocial support on transition processes.

 In order to enlarge such empowering spaces that belong to us, we decided to organize under an initiative. With this aim, every month, we will organize trainings, seminars, workshops and various socio-cultural activities for trans people in Istanbul.

 As the Trans Istanbul Initiative, we invite all LGBTI+ to show solidarity, to organize and empower each other. If you would like to organize with us around this purpose and be informed about our meetings, you can contact us at transinisiyatif@gmail.com. We were here, we existed, we will exist! We are Neither Wrong, Nor Alone!”

You can find the Trans Istanbul Initiative here.

Turkey marks November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance

LGBTI+ communities across Turkey came together to mark November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Turkey currently ranks 48 among 49 countries in ILGA’s Rainbow Index and the Penal Code of the country still has no law defining hate speech or hate crime. With rampant impunity in the cases of violence against trans individuals, as well as LGBTI+ individuals and women, activists continue to demand recognition of transphobia as a political issue. Here is a summary of the events organized in different parts of the country:

İZMİR

The İzmir November 20 Platform gathered on the streets in the central district of Alsancak, with a candle lit poster reading: “The scales of justice weighted with transphobia take the lives of trans people. The perpetrators are all people and structures that maintain the cis-hetero-patriarchal system!”

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Photo: Kaos GL 

İSTANBUL

For Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November and World Children’s Rights Day, Bosphorus University Women’s Research Club (BÜKAK) along with Campus 404 and CİTÖK (Comittee to Prevent Sexual Harassment) held a screening of the documentary “My Child” which was accompanied with talks from the film’s director Can Candan, trans rights activist Doğukan Karahan and LADEG+ founder Sema Yakar.

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Photo: BÜKAK Twitter Page

Across the districts of Şişli and Kadıköy the CHP municipalities put up posters designed by Aslı Alpar with the trans flag and reading, “Alışın, buradayız” (Get used to it, we are here) or “Bir arada, buradayız” (We are together, we are here). 

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Photo: KadirKaraasu’s twitter page

The weekend was dedicated to November 20, with a wide array of events organized by Pink Life LGBTI+ Solidarity Association in İstanbul. This year’s programme centered around the struggle against Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism (TERF) as LGBTI+ communities in Turkey witnessed an online debate initiated by a group of trans exclusive feminist academics. The programme also included panels on the struggle of intersex individuals for human rights, transfeminism, visibility of trans individuals within the LGBTI+ movement, and current conditions of trans sex workers.  On Saturday night, the “Dilek İnce Award for Struggle Against Hate Crimes” award ceremony took place and the award went to trans activist Aligül Arıkan who lost his life in 2013. His friends accepted the award on his behalf. Pink Life Association had opened a library in his memory earlier this week. The night continued with a party against TERF’s. On Sunday night, the community came together to commemorate Devran Çağlar. 

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Photo: November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance Schedule,Pink Life LGBTI+ Solidarity Association website

ESKİŞEHİR

Eskişehir Anadolu LGBTİ+ announced a declaration on November 20, calling for resistance to hatred. The declaration was signed by Anadolu LGBTI+ Trans Studies Commission, Cosmos Gender Studies Workshop, Democratic Women Movement, Eskişehir School, Women’s Defence Network, Özgür Genç Kadın, Tepebaşı Youth Assembly, University Students Women Collective, Yaşam Bellek Özgürlük Derneği. 

ANKARA

ODTÜ LGBTI+, LGBTI+ student collective of Middle Eastern Technical University, came together to commemorate Esra Ateş, Hande Kader, Simge Sezer, Gökçe Saygı and all of the unknown victims of transphobia.

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Photo: ODTÜ LGBTI+ Solidarity official twitter account

 

Dersim (Tunceli)

Women Assemblies of Dersim Municipality put up posters against violence against trans individuals on billboards around the city to mark November 20. The municipality posters read “Long live life, against hate! November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance”.

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Photo: Kaos GL

Antalya

Human Rights Association (İHD) Antalya Branch and BİZ Antalya (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Research Association) went out on the streets with the slogan “Long live life, against hate!”. After their press statement, the group went on to call out names of victims of transphobia, followed by the slogan “We won’t forget!”

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Photo: Gazete Patika

Kocaeli 

Activists against transphobia organized a meeting in Kocaeli, demanding recognition of trans murders as a hate crime.

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Photo: Gazete Patika