Law & Politics

Judicial and political environment in Turkey on LGBTI issues

Professor Sues Same-sex Neigbhbours

Foreign couple GS and GH are currently involved in a legal battle with their neighbours, who have filed complaints against them in which they use homophobic language. The couple have been at their residence on Büyükada since Christmas 2016. GS spoke to LGBTI News Turkey about the ongoing situation.

 

LGBTI News: You moved to the island to give your dog more space. How long after you moved in did you begin to have problems with your neighbours?

GS: We found this apartment in May 2016, but we didn’t move in until Christmas because the problems started with the neighbours; when they saw two men were moving in, they started disturbing us. We didn’t understand in the beginning what was happening. There is a law on the island that you are not allowed to renovate or do any construction work during summer, we were not aware of this as the real estate agent had already started the repairs as we had in our contract with the seller. One day, the neighbour came down and shouted that it was her holiday and she didn’t want any noise in the building, we sent the workers home. That evening we bought wine and chocolate as a present and went to their door to apologise, she yelled at us saying that she doesn’t want anyone in the garden looking at her, and slammed the door. We stopped the renovation during summer  2016, and we continued after the season had finished, as we had obtained a permit from KUDEB.

LGBTI News: Is it correct to say the problems began with your dogs? What objections did your neighbours have to them?

GS: The problems were never about the dogs, but I came to this realization after the court case began. We had only one dog, Ginger, when we moved in. During winter 2016/2017 we had a big snow storm, so two dogs came and took shelter in our garden. Both are very old and had lived in the streets of Buyukada for more than 10 years, so we decided to take them in until the storm was over. Their names are Volkan and Dragos. Everyone who lives on Buyukada knows them. Also I have to tell that our garden is not protected by walls, so any animal can come in to the garden easily. Then the inevitable thing happened, we fell in love with those dogs and decided to adopt them with one of our neighbours; we called our vet and we registered them as pets with all the necessary steps such as vaccinations and microchips and got their pet passports. The neighbors came in the beginning of the summer season ( they come to the island only during summers ) and found the perfect opportunity to get rid of us by complaining about our dogsThe dogs were  just an excuse; they objected because we are also foreigners, we live together and also we were members of another religion and if you read their police statements, you will see that they basically complained about us being gay and insulted us, and they hardly mentioned the dogs. So they went and complained about many different things and started many cases, including one to remove the animals from the building, in an attempt to push us out of the building, knowing that we would never leave our dogs.

LGBTI News: The thing that had brought you to our attention is a lawsuit regarding your sexuality. Would you kindly elaborate on your neighbors attitude and actions towards you regarding your sexuality and your partner?

GS: The case is about us offending them with our behavior, they said we are living like husband and wife ( though we never came out to them, so I assume they were looking through our windows) they also said that we are feminine, and people like us should be away from normal families. They even had the courage to use a very offensive word  [the neighbours used the word kırık (literally broken), which is an offensive slang term used to refer to homosexuals], this is all in their police statement, meaning they were talking to a police officer, and they signed this statement. They had the courage to protest every aspect of our private lives in front of police officers.

We live on the garden floor, so when we are home, the neighbor above starts stomping really loud, they stare and take our photos when we sit in the garden, sometimes one of them stands outside our kitchen window and stares at us for a while, when they walk upstairs, past our terrace, they hit the stair rail hard and make threatening grunting noises, they point at us if we come across them in the streets of the island, they leave garbage at our backdoor. How did we end up in a court case? I have no Idea, but I am sure they would do anything, using their positions in society to have us evicted. The complainants have listed their social positions in their petition, in what I believe to be an attempt to divert the attention away from their bad intentions.  I am afraid because the neighbour who gave the statement is a doctor – a professor – so if a gay patient visits him, he may discriminate and refuse to take care of them!

LGBTI News: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

GS: I am asking for support in regards of our court cases, the neighbors are of high status where they educate or treat young adults. Their positions and their ideas need to be known. Could you imagine if a homophobic doctor, for example, refused to treat his gay patient? This is not only about us, today they are targeting us, tomorrow it could be any member of society.

 

GS attended a second court hearing on December 18th 2018 and a third on March 25th 2019. During the second hearing Prof. Galip Zihni Sanus, a key complainant, disputed that he had used the word kırık to describe the couple, and appeared to have altered his statements. The case continues. The fourth hearing is scheduled for 13:30, June 13th 2019  at Adalar Adliyesi, Büyükada, Istanbul.

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Group on the bans for the 9th METU Pride March

The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March:

Source: The statement of METU LGBTI+ Solidarity on the METU Administration’s decision to ban the 9th METU Pride March (ODTÜ Lgbti+ Dayanışması’nın Onur Yürüyüşüne yasak kararına ilişkin açıklaması), Lubunya Dayanışma Ağı / Lubunya Solidarity Network https://www.facebook.com/lubunyadayanismagi/photos/a.1731041177022948/2032498373543892/?type=3&theater, 7 May 2019

The METU Rectorate has sent an e-mail to all students, graduates, and academics of the university today around at 14:00. In the e-mail, the rectorate announced that the 9th METU Pride March, which is allegedly organized by “various non-governmental organizations”, shall not be permitted since it is an LGBTI+ event and there is, the rectorate claims, still a ban against the march, and it shall be met with police violence if any event is organized. In an environment where there is no such a ban, the METU Administration is trying to manipulate the situation by acting as if such a ban still exists.

It should be noted that METU LGBTI+ Solidarity which has been targeted by the police for years, would organize the 9th METU Price March on May 10. METU LGBTI+ Solidarity has made great efforts to secure gender equality, fight against LGBTI+ phobia, and ensure that the campus is a safe place for the past 23 years and shall continue doing so. Throughout the e-mail, METU Administration discriminates against METU LGBTI+ Solidarity and the LGBTI+ students pointing them out as a target, just as it has been doing for many years. This is a violation of basic human rights as well as METU’s tradition and culture. Besides, the METU Administration is in violation of international human rights agreements such as the Istanbul Convention which Turkey is a signatory of and breaches the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Governance and the EGERA Charter for Gender Sensitive Communication that our school is a part of.

The METU Pride March is not organized by a variety of non-governmental organizations, but by METU LGBTI+ Solidarity. Presenting the demand for permission as something marginal is absurd and irrational, just like the reason for cancelling the Spring Festival last week claiming that it is because of “LGBT, Marxist, extreme leftist, HDP groups”. It is clear that this announcement fits the pro-government media or Zaytung* better. As seen from the protests demanding the Spring Festival, the administration does not represent METU traditions and thought that it could ban the march, threatening the whole METU community with police violence.

The most saddening part is that the METU Administration aspires to be a one-man regime fitting this country’s mentality of lawlessness. The bans against LGBTI+ events, imposed  both during and after the state of emergency, has been lifted by the court after stating that no ban of this extent can be introduced even during the state of emergency. In addition, CİMER (Presidential Communication Centre) has confirmed that there is no such general ban and each event shall be evaluated on its own. All the detailed statements in relation to the legal status are available as attached.

We call out to all METU people as well as those who want to protect freedoms; to the people who are against LGBTI+ phobia, sexism, discrimination, and patriarchy. Come here and let’s defend life in spite those who are full of hatred. Let’s spread our peaceful parade and rainbow celebration with marches and events for the whole of METU on May 10.

You can find detailed information relating to the legal status below:

https://tinyurl.com/lgbtiyasakkarar

METU LGBTI+ SOLIDARITY

We invite you to support with the hashtag #ODTUyeRenkVer

*Translator’s note: Zaytung is an online satirical magazine based in Turkey

Also see our article on the lifting of the LGBTI Activitities ban in Ankara and the protests on the METU campus in support of the spring festival.

Cyprus Pride March – Out and Proud 2019 

“We are at school, home, parliament, street; everywhere!

Pride Marches started with the initiative of Queer Cyprus Association for the first time in 2014, have been organized by the 17th May Organizing Committee with multi-stakeholders since 2016 and growing stronger every year. 17th of May draws attention to the rights and freedoms of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI +) on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in order to emphasize the importance of working together and combating; We celebrate the day of action against physical, psychological, economic violence against sexual orientation and gender identity with various activities every year.
When the subject comes to the rights and freedoms, we are opposed with an excuse that “Society is not ready.”, we walked with the slogan “We are READY”. As heteronormativity among the society is counted as normal and our loves toward the same gender are ignored, we rebelled with the “Should We Love and turn in to Stone”. In order to honor our ever-growing and getting more colorful combat, we said: “Neither our Combat is finished nor Love”. This year, we have been organizing a series of diverse events over a period of two weeks with the theme of “Out and Proud”. We have been organizing to remind you that we are here.

The foundations of the pressure on gender identity and sexual orientation are the same as the patriarchal system that creates wars and violence. Therefore, we remind that all combats involve LGBTI + struggle as well.

We stand up for that our problems can be visible as long as we are organized while keeping in mind that no one can be forced to come out. For the recognition of our rights in front of the law, we come out to the public sphere against discrimination in the workplace and we say “We are Here” with all our colors and diversity against the heterosexist binary gender repression.

We stand against ignoring policies based on rising violence against women in our country, rising xenophobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation, we are once again reminded that our combat is not separate from our love and once again, we are organizing with our political parties, non-governmental organizations and independent activists from all over our geography and carrying our struggle to the street. This year, we are beginning our series of events with “Out and Proud Party Vol 1” on Saturday, May 4 at Famagusta Old Arcade. and the next day continuing with a picnic and thematic discussion named “Protestainment and Genus Talks” at Çamlık, Famagusta.
On Tuesday, 7th of May, the “Three Generation” film will be screened at Nicosia Party Headquarters by Social Democracy Party. On Tuesday, 8th of May, “Avenue Q” musical, which, is born in Broadway, will meet with the audience at METU Northern Cyprus Campus.

LGBTI + and Class Struggle” discussion organized by Baraka Cultural Center on Thursday, May 9 will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House with Kaos GL activist Remzi Altunpolat.

Community Party – Gender Equality Committee will organize an Exhibition named “Dramaqueer” on Friday, May 10 and it will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House. On the same day, the 2nd party will be taken place with Drag Theme Shows at Nicosia Papa Bar.

On Saturday, 11th of May, Slogans, and banners that going to be used on Pride March will be prepared at Queer Cyprus Association.
This year, as in the previous year, the European Mediterranean Art Association (EMAA)’s “Queer Art Exhibition” will be opened on Monday, May 13th.
“KuirFest Cyprus Film Festival”, will be organized by Queer Cyprus Association and Pink Life Association for the first time this year and Festival will start with the opening cocktail and “Night, Angel and Our Children” movie screening on Tuesday, 14th of May and continue till 17th of May, Friday. 16th of May, Movie Screening will be held on Famagusta Old City Arcade and rest of the days, the event will be held in Nicosia Arabahmet Culture and Art House with Turkish and English subtitles.

The Pride March will start in front of Dereboyu Suitex on Saturday, 18th of May and end at Lefkeliler Inn. Right after the Pride March, we will have fun and dance until late with music. We invite everyone to our activities and march to combat against all forms of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

17th May Organizing Committee:
Queer Cyprus Association, Independence Way, Baraka Cultural Centre, CTP Youth Organization, HP-TCEK, Collective for Woman Education, Socialist Democracy Party TOCEK and Youth Organization, European Mediterranean Art Association (EMAA), Mesarya Women Initiative, MAGEM, NEDA, and independent activists.”

 

The statement for Cyprus Pride March is taken from the event page.

LISTAG reestablishes itself as an association

LISTAG, Lezbiyen, Gey, Biseksüel, Trans, İnterseks Aileleri ve Yakınları Grubu, (The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex Family and Friends Group) has reestablished itself as an official association in Turkey, registering itself with the Directorate of Associations under the Ministry of Interior.

LISTAG offers family support to the parents and relatives of LGBTI+ individuals in Turkey. With meetings across the country, the organization offers much needed support. Counseling and a support network offered by LISTAG helps parents and family members confront their biases as well as understand and accept their loved ones as they are.

In 2013, LISTAG produced the “My Child” documentary, a film based on interviews with many of the parents involved in the organization. The film shows the incredible ways in which LISTAG has helped empower the parents as well the LGBTI+ individuals themselves through the support network.

In a statement on why LISTAG has decided to take this step the organization explained that:

“We had a yearlong experience being an association between 2015-2016 but when we realized that we did not have the human resources or the mentality to sustain the association, we terminated it. Since then LISTAG has grown bigger across Turkey with new people joining in. There arose the need for a corporate body which brings together LGBTI+ families and friends.  We believe that individuals and names are transitory, what matters is to leave a sustainable structure behind. Our first task will be to improve and strengthen our institutional capacity and human resources. Our aim is to reach more families with LGBTI+ children, to support them and to continue the LGBTI+ rights struggle in Turkey as an alliance.”

Being registered as an association has a variety of legal benefits including allowing the organization to open commercial offices and earn revenues. Registered organizations also have more opportunities to lobby, apply for grants and collaborate with government bodies.  Official recognition also strengthens the visibility of the LGBTI+ movement in Turkey.

Hatred at TİHEK Symposium: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT….”

TİHEK (Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey) is supposed to work against discrimination but continues to discriminate. At the symposium organized by TİHEK, LGBTI+ people were targeted: “Indecencies such as [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family.”

Source: “Hatred at TİHEK* Symposium: ‘Indecencies such as LGBT….’” (“TİHEK sempozyumunda nefret: ‘LGBT vb. hayasızlıklar…’), Yıldız Tar, kaosgl.org, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28165&fbclid=IwAR1bjPk3iKhd4fbSpMK10tskswIz6vESm7SKXc28LU-U0vtuQYUaS7tle9o, April 30, 2019.

TİHEK had recently rejected the application of two trans women, claiming that “sexual identity is not considered as a basis of discrimination”. The institution is meant to protect individuals against discrimination yet does not recognize gender identity and sexual orientation based discrimination. This time, the institution demonstrated a discriminatory attitude at its conference titled “International Symposium on the Right to Protect Family” with the motto “It’s Time for Family”.

On the first day of the symposium (April 29), speaker Prof. Dr. Orhan Çeker said “Indecencies like [being] LGBT are attempts to undermine humankind, its nature and family. I believe that the church and the synagogue would stand against these indecencies as well, and we should struggle against it together if necessary”.

TİHEK also shared these statements on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The symposium continues today [April 30,2019] with speakers including Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkey.

TİHEK member spews hatred

Last year, the Former Chair of the Prime Ministery Human Rights Office and Member of TİHEK Board Mehmet Altuntaş targeted Pride Walk through is social media account.

He had written “What pride, what love? Love happens between two different sexes. Both the divine creation and nature says this. This is a regression. It’s regressing back from nature towards savagery”, as a comment under Amnesty International’s tweet about Istanbul Pride Walk.

Following Altuntaş’s homophobic statements Pink Life Association has applied to the Ombudsman Institution.

TIHEK Law itself is discriminatory!

TİHEK was established by a law published in 2016. The decision making body of the institution was defined to be a Human Rights and Equality Board in Turkey.

The institution discriminates against LGBTI+ individuals as it ignores discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Turkish law bans all discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age. Yet the law does not include sexual orientation and gender identity.

How was TİHEK founded?

Laws drafted on the establishment of Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey were examined by GNAT Human Rights Commission on February 2016. CHP and HDP’s demand to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the law was not accepted in a homophobic reaction from AKP. HDP subsequently withdrew from the  commission’s work.

The draft excluding sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination could have been sent to the lower commission, yet was forwarded to the Assembly to be voted directly after the commission’s review, due to AKP’s persistence. Thus, the detailed examination of the draft by the lower commission was prevented. Neither civil society nor the opposition parties were allowed sufficient time to present their motions.

There were arguments at the commission meetings for the draft prepared by the government, which neglects LGBTI individuals and their demands while banning discrimination based on sexuality, race, color, language, religion, sect, philosophical and political view, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health condition, disability and age

50 LGBTI organizations published a joint statement, saying “Do not discriminate against the gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex individuals in the Human Rights and Equality Institution Law!”

Civil society organisations started a petition against the Law Draft on the Human Rights and Equality Institution which excludes human rights platforms from the procedure and discriminates against LGBTI individuals.

Organisations addressed GNAT, stating “We, as the CSOs working for human rights, struggle against discrimination and equality in Turkey, would like to call attention to the fact that there is no possibility for the structure and framework envisioned by the draft to realize the aims and functions indicated in its premises”.

Court lifts the state of emergency ban against LGBTI+ activities in Ankara

Upon Kaos GL Association’s appeal application, Ankara Regional Administrative Court 12th Administrative Case Court has examined the indefinite ban against LGBTI+ activities, declared by the Governorship of Ankara on November 2017.

Source: Court lifts the state of emergency ban against LGBTI+ activities in Ankara, (“Mahkeme, OHAL’de ilan edilen Ankara LGBTİ+ etkinlik yasağını kaldırdı”), kaosgl.org, April 19, 2019, https://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=28102&fbclid=IwAR03zlUFhP1Bmh-AQRuTEjYuWNrcIKz_gt4x30786XqCNWBAQMPm_r_GYQg. This is a summary translation of the article.

Regional Administrative Court has stated that the ban was declared for an indefinite duration and bears no limitation or clarity as to the quality of the actions that are banned. The court indicated that if there is a threat against the planned activities, law enforcers should take precautions instead of banning the events; and that the ban is not lawful. The court ruled to lift the ban.

Here is an excerpt from the court ruling:

“The ban declared on November 18, 2017 for an indefinite duration, regarding the activities such as film screenings, cinevision, theater plays, panels, talks, exhibitions etc. taking place in different locations in Ankara, which include certain social sensibilities and sensitivities by various civil society organizations on LGBTT-LGBTI etc. matters; bear no limitation or clarity on either the time duration or the quality of the actions which are banned.”

“Although it is suggested by the administration that the planned activities might upset certain sections of society and lead to provocation, assault or reactions, such gatherings and activities can be protected by necessary security measures instead of an indefinite ban based on the premises that certain sections of society might react or be provoked”

The ruling also suggests that such indefinite ban with regards to duration and scope leads to the restriction on the exercise of fundamental rights and liberties, and therefore is not compatible with the law.

Despite the lifting of the state of emergency, a ban was sent by the Governorship of Ankara’s Legal Affairs Branch Directorate’s to Provincial Directorate of Security on October 3, 2018 on the same grounds. The lawsuit against this decision continues.

 

Ishi has a name!

Trans individuals share what their names mean to them.

Source: Ishi has a name! (İshi’nin adı var!) Deniz P. Darno, Kaos GL, April 5, 2019,

http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=27993&fbclid=IwAR37UQxfqMxm4LaZcCAqqh4s2jDKCGxIsxFUkqsTye45NQAEOiXJSXYk4JE

I want to tell the beginning of the story, the moment when I learnt that my grand-grandmother was a Lebanese Armenian. First, I felt shocked and sad because I hadn’t known it. Then, I asked so many questions. Trying to learn the details of the story was like climbing a hill. Though, I couldn’t find an answer to one of the basic questions. “What was her name?” I asked the eldest of the family already, but none knew the name. Here, another one of the problems which look seemingly easy: she has to have a name, what was it? I guess it was the time when I first understood that names have a story within. There are valuable studies about names which we forget, ignore, or neglect. The topic/purpose of this article is to present the story of the names of the transgender individuals who chose their own names and have to face an intense resistance against this choice of theirs, through their own words.

“I really love my name, because I came back to the real me!”

Aras: I have been Aras ever since I could remember. I even forgot when and how I chose this name. I learned the meaning of it much later and I told myself that I guess I chose the right name; it means finding something later and embracing it as if it was always yours.

Aslı: My friends reacted [badly] when I first told them that I had chosen the name Aslı. They told me I could choose a more modern and beautiful name. But I easily overcame their prejudice; I chose the name Aslı because I came back to the real me. I chose it because I was re-born. I really love my name, because I came back to the real me! (Aslı: Original, Real)

Aylin: There are a couple of important women who came into my life and their names were Aylin. I chose this name because I was really inspired by them and I want to further their energy. It also means moonlight. The moon has no light itself, it reflects the light it receives from the sun. That means, it reflects light which already exists. The moon brightens up with the light it receives; so maybe I’ll brighten up with this name and the process. I always exist but I brighten up with the light, my name. Also, I bring light to the darkness in some way.

Defne Gülce: Gülce is related to my family; my mother’s name is Gülden and my elder sister’s name is Gülşah. So, I chose it. Defne has a mythological story. Defne is a tree and it has a fairy girl inside. I see the tree as the body I was born with and the female hidden inside the tree means a lot to me. There is a god called Apollo in the story and he, manhood that is a thorn in her flesh, searches for Defne. I chose the name Defne because I think it reflects me a lot. (Defne: Bay/laurel (Eng. Daphne); Gülce: Like a Rose)

Deniz: The feeling of “unable to fit in” was one of the feelings that I felt most intensely at the beginning of my process. I felt the same about my name on my identity card and wanted to change it. Then I found my name from one of Arkadaş Zekai’s poems that I love: “If you reach to caress the curly brunette hair at the point where love makes love with love, if you see the golden sparkles inside the curly brunette hair, that means you are inside of the sea, even if the sea is a far away from you.” (Deniz: Sea)

Dila: One day, I stepped in front of a mirror, looked at it, and told myself: what goes together with this face? What, what… Many names came into my mind. Then, I had a friend, we were talking, and they told me  “Tell me how you really feel when you look at your face and let’s find a name according to it.” I said that “I see a really heartfelt, warm sincerity.’’ It looks like I am speaking highly of myself now, but anyway! Then I learned that Dila means a heartfelt sincerity and chose the name Dila for myself.

Eda: When I was around 8-9 years old, there was a grocery store on the ground floor of the apartment where we used to live and its owners were our neighbours. They had a daughter and her name was Eda. I used to play games with her. I had only the name on my identity card then, but it was like I would identify myself with her. I would run to respond when someone called her. My name comes from those times. (Eda: Coquetry, Coyness)

“I wanted my name to be Hayat (Life) because I chose to hold on to life.”

Efruz: The meaning of Efruz, which is a Persian name, is glamorous light; it also means igniting, emblazing. I define myself as a Middle Eastern woman and I have never felt ashamed of having been born in this part of the world. On the contrary, it is an honour for me to having been born here and therefore, I wanted my name to belong to this region. I started to look at Kurdish, Persian, Arabic, Syriac, Armenian, and Romaic name dictionaries. I was looking at them with one of my friends. Then I came across Efruz. I fell in love with its phonetics; its meaning was splashy! Then I said yes, I am Efruz! I also quite like the fact that the name originates from Persian which has existed since ancient times and so, I chose the name Efruz.

Eva: My friends suggested this name to me during my 18th birthday. Eva is the Latin version of Havva. Havva is the first woman ever created; they told me  “you created yourself” and suggested it with this motivation. We can say that Eva was found during funny chit chat. However, my name is associated with a vampy image and I face prejudices most of the time because it is generally considered as outside of the norm. In such a society which loves standardized types and excludes minorities, these names can, unfortunately, make life a little harder for us.

Hayat: While I was deciding my name, I especially didn’t want to choose one of the widely known names, because names such as Ayşe or Fatma are so traditional and have a meaning corresponding to a certain female image. In other words, there is an image coming right to your mind when you say that name; so, I didn’t want something like that. I wished for a name which does not correspond to anything and which I will fulfil. In addition, considering the difficulties that I had at the beginning of my process of coming out, I can say that it is a fight to hold on to life. I was in the middle of the point where I could continue to my transition or end my life. It was a period in which I had intentions, attempts to commit suicide. But I chose to hold on to life despite all the difficulties, so I wanted my name to be Hayat. (Hayat: Life)

Janset: I guess it has been three and a half years since the time I chose my name. At first, it was hard to choose a name, start to use it, and make people around me get used to it. Janset is a name that is really valuable for and belongs to the Circassian language, culture, and history. It means sunrise. Before telling you about how I chose my name, I want to mention a couple of things. When I came out as being a trans person, which part of my body I needed surgery for was one of the first things that I had faced. The name problem was a crisis following right after it. I was not known in the activist community and the sooner I chose a name and started using it, the easier it would be for people to get used it. But I waited even so. It was really hard to change the name which is a reminder of my deceased mother who gave that name to me. Also, I had spent the first 27 years of my life with that name. There were a couple of people who want to be a mother to me and therefore to choose a name for me, which is a tradition for trans people. It is a tradition in the history and culture of trans women from Turkey. I was distant, but also so close to that system. At first, I couldn’t capitalize on it. Both my character and my sociocultural background were not suitable for it. All these are different sides of it though, but they are the factors that affected me while choosing my name. My father is Zaza, my mother’s father is Turkmen and mother is an Iranian. So, I don’t have any relation to being a Circassian. When I was born, my mother named me with a name that she created by combining a part of her name with a part of my father’s name. When I decided to choose my own name, I wanted it to be a name which can tell all of  my story and character through its meaning and keep the part from my mother alive. Then, the actress Janset whom I really like came to my mind. I searched for the name and when I read the meaning: I said my name is Janset.

“I chose the name Kuzey (North) because I found my direction.”

Kardelen: My mother had given the name to me, even before I was born. In other words, my mother had wanted and expected to give birth to a girl, they had even chosen a name: Kardelen. But they were baffled and named me with the name on my identity card after I was born.  A while after I came out as a trans individual, my mother suggested this name which they had thought of giving to me before. Kardelen is really special to me because of its meaning. Because it really suits the trans spirit. Kardelen is a flower kept under snow, a fighter flower. Therefore, I really love its meaning as well. (Kardelen: Snowdrop)

Kuzey: When people want to find their direction, they look at the North. For example, sailors look at the North through their compasses and find their direction. When a tree is covered with moss, the moss shows the North. So, I chose the name Kuzey, because I found my direction. (Kuzey: North)

Lukka:  I hiked across the Lycian Way by myself a couple of times in 2015. It is located in the Southern part of Anatolia, between Fethiye and Antalya. I have been there many times and always hiked by myself. In the meantime, I researched its history, mythology etc. so as to commune with that place; I even painted it many times. Climbing the mountains and hiking by myself there were really meaningful to me. I enjoy climbing mountains and I see this activity as some kind of an expression of freedom. Also, the scenery is amazing and the archaeological remains, various plants, trees and people you see along the road have made the hiking precious. So, my name came to mind when I researched Lycia more. I learned that the masculine version of Lycia is Lukka, which also means light.

Mert Toprak: I have two names; it was hard to officialise it at the court, but both of them are really meaningful to me. The first one was given to me by a woman whom I had a relationship with for 4 years. Unfortunately, she got married by force and now has a child whose name is Mert, too. She was a really special woman for me. And the story of the second name is that my family was really transphobic at the beginning of my process of coming out and I would even receive death threats. So, I told myself that I would finish this process even if I would depart from this world and become a part of the earth. So, I chose the name Toprak by myself. (Mert: Brave and Trustworthy; Toprak: Earth)

Nora: My name means God’s light and good spirit. The reason why I chose it is because it is a different name that is out of the ordinary; besides, I think this name really suits me. I didn’t want to use such Turkish names as Ayşe, Fatma, Hatice, etc. I have been a trans individual for 5 years, but I have used the name Nora for 15-16 years. In other words, it isn’t a name chosen after becoming a trans individual.

Tolga: My mother picked my name because it is close to my name on my identity card. We chose and accepted it “so that people would not have a hard time to get used to it.” In addition, the whole process is like my rebirth, so I wanted my mother to name me, and she suggested this name to me. (Tolga: Helmet)

P.S.: The article only contains the stories of the transgender individuals who chose to change their names. However, we know that this change is not an obligation. The experiences of each and every one of us with our processes are unique; ultimately, the bottom line is to be reborn, name ourselves, and live our lives as we wish.

*I would like to thank all the friends who shared their stories, and dear Metin Akdemir & Gülşah Tekin.

**The illustrations at this article were used with the permission of the artist Rory Midhani.

***Title: Ulus Baker, Yüzeybilim- Fragmanlar, ed. Ege Berensel, Birikim Yayınları, 2014 [2009], p. 242-243.