LGBTI Youth

LGBTI Youth issues in Turkey

Why can’t we fit gays and transsexuals into this huge world?

We fit murderers, thieves, rapists, child-abusers and any kind of foulness in this world. Why cannot we fit gays and transsexuals who do not have any designs on the rights of others? Why don’t we “stand up” for Hande as well, as we did for Özgecan?

Source: Nurcan Baysal, “Bu koca dünyaya eşcinselleri, transları neden sığdıramıyoruz?”, T24, 18 August 2016, http://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/nurcan-baysal/bu-koca-dunyaya-escinselleri-translari-neden-sigdiramiyoruz,15267

Hande was lost since August 6. Her friends and partner put out a missing persons report. She was found by the road in Zekeriyaköy. She was burned.

Hande Kader was a transsexual woman and a sex-worker. Last year, during Trans Pride, she demonstrated against police intervention by sitting in front of the anti-riot water cannon vehicle (TOMA). She was brave.

I had a look on her Facebook page in order to get to know her and read her posts. She wrote on November 30:  

“I’ve accumulated great misery inside that there is no place to live other feelings…”

Hande is not alone in accumulating misery/pain. Transsexual individuals enormously accumulate pain in this country. They are driven to suicide or slaughtered as the result of social pressure, exclusion, violence and defamation that they are exposed.

Eylül Cansın was only 23 years old when she threw herself off the bridge by saying that “I couldn’t; they didn’t let me.”

Roşin Çiçek was 17 years old yet when he was killed with 14 bullets by his own father.

İrem Su was 28 years old when she was barbarously killed with 12 stabs.

Two years ago, on August 24, transsexual woman Figen committed suicide in Mersin. She “spat in our face and left” when she was committing suicide, with the words of her close friend. At that time, I wrote that “We could not fit her in this huge world.”

Just 10 days ago, Muhammed Wisam, a gay refugee, was slaughtered by being cut.

People are killed by being burned, they are slaughtered by being cut, and we keep quiet. We keep quite because these people are homosexual or transsexual. We are in a disgusting silence.

We fit murderers, thieves, rapists, child-abusers and any kind of foulness in this world. Why cannot we fit gays and transsexuals who do not have any designs on the rights of others?

Why don’t we “stand up” for Hande as well, as we did for Özgecan?

A downtrodden and battered woman’s body was burned. Why don’t we raise our voices?

Homophobic and transphobic murders are fed on our silence.

It should not be that hard to protect the human dignity.

Don’t be quiet!

All gender bathroom initiative achieves success at Boğaziçi University

“All Gender Bathroom” initiative at Boğaziçi University yields its initial successful outcome!

Source: Ekin Keser, “BOĞAZİÇİ ÜNİVERSİTESİ’NDE CİNSİYETSİZ TUVALET PROJESİ SONUÇ VERDİ” (“All gender bathroom initiative achieves success at Boğaziçi University”), GZone, 11 February 2016, http://gzone.com.tr/bogazici-universitesinde-cinsiyetsiz-tuvalet-projesi-sonuc-verdi/

We first heard about this campaign in a press release on November 19, 2014, World Toilet Day. Signatures were collected, petitions were submitted, public forums were organized. Today, we talked to Beren Azizi and Görkem Ulumeriç of BÜ [Boğaziçi University – Trans.] LGBTI Studies Association about the “All Gender Bathroom” campaign, which officially yielded its initial successful outcome.

Could you start by telling how this idea came about, how you got started and when you first took action?

Beren Azizi: This idea emerged from analyses of the “violation of rights” that result from “deprivation.” Education is a human right, because everyone is equal; however in practice we see that things do not really work that way. LGBTI+ students drop out of their studies, do not come to school, they are depressed or “unsuccessful.” When you start asking what happened and what went wrong, you realize that places, where a fundamental right such as education is offered, are in fact filled with challenges and obstacles for the LGBTI+’s. Toilets, as we see from numerous scientific studies around the world, are one of those obstacles. Based on the feedback we received from LGBTI+ students, we realized that “All Gender Bathroom” is a right and we should demand it.

We took the first step on November 19, 2014, World Toilet Day. We sent out a press release. Of course, mental framework for this idea was in place long ago, in fact years ago.

Görkem Ulumeriç: LGBTI+ can face challenges while using binary gender bathrooms, changing rooms and dorm rooms. They either use the bathrooms while everyone is in class or never at all. We bring up such issues during the meetings of the LGBTI club and make it an active topic of discussion on campus. We organized forums, prepared banners, made press releases, wrote many pieces to the university’s Facebook groups. We submitted a petition with 400 signatures. The president’s office evaluated these inquiries and all gender bathrooms were already in place at the beginning of this semester.   

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Security officer at Bosphorous University insults an LGBTI Studies Club member, the university initiates disciplinary investigation into the student

A member of the Bosphorus University LGBTI Studies Club was subject to insult and degradation by the university’s security staff. The university opened an investigation into the student on the grounds that they refused to present an identification card and disputed with the security staff.

Source:  “Boğaziçi LGBTİ üyesine güvenlik hakaret etti, okul soruşturma açtı!” (“Security officer at Bosphorus University insults an LGBTI Studies Club member, the university initiates disciplinary investigation into the student!”), kaosGL.org, 15 January 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20909

Bosphorus University initiated a disciplinary investigation into a member of the university’s LGBTI Studies Club. “Declining to present an identification card to the security staff” and “entering into dispute with the security staff” were given as reasons for the investigation.

bogaziciyuruyus

The student member stated that the security staff assaulted them. They sent the following e-mail to the Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Assault:

This is my complaint about the assault I endured today around noon by the university’s security staff. I am sharing related notes about my experience:

I was not alone during the incident.There were students around. I know a few of them. They are also students at the university.

The incident happened three or four meters away from the stairs at the main entrance at North Campus after entering through the gate.

Some of the students who witnessed the incident stopped the security guard who walked up to me and said: ‘What do you think you are doing? You cannot act like this!’

Others said, ‘you cannot address people however you want. You cannot treat a student in this manner just for not showing their ID.’

Others tried to console me: ‘You are right. We know you are right, but if you continue to shout you will be blamed when you are in fact not guilty of anything.’ They were about 15-20 students who came to my support. I only know two of them in person.

I had come to school for my 13:55pm class.

“What should we call you? Are you an animal? Shall we call you animal?”

I came to school, went through the main gate at North Campus. As I was passing by, the security asked for ID: ‘Sir, can you show your ID?’ I did not respond [to being addressed as ‘sir’], and walked on. They said behind me, ‘Hey, sir, hey, ID, ID, we are talking to you!’

I again did not respond and continued walking to the building where my class was being held. At this time, the students who were there said, ‘they are calling you.’

I turned around. They said, ‘We called for you sir, and you do not respond. What are we supposed to call you?’ I said, ‘you can say ‘student,’ ‘or, excuse me’, or ‘friend.’

‘What shall we call you? Are you an animal? Shall we call you animal?’ they said. Meanwhile, a middle-aged security staff about 170 m tall, took out their cell phone and began recording me.

‘Go on, report this,’ they said. I thought about the previous report filed by the club I am a member of. I thought they might have heard about it. I said, ‘Of course, we will report it. You did the same to another student who is not from this university.’

I turned my back and continued walking. As I took a few steps, the security guard who was trying to record me on their cell phone cut in front of me. When that happened, people gathered around us, and other security guards gathered around me. Then another group with an acquaintance of mine among them intervened. The security staff said: ‘Your power reaches us. Go on, deal with it downstairs! You don’t have the heart to back down. We dare you!’

I did not want to hear more, I wanted to get away. I was scared, my nerves were shaking. At that moment, the security staff yelled at me: ‘Do not fuck with us!’ My friends took me away from the scene. I explained the situation to the club members. I was 15 minutes late to class. I had a terrible day after the incident. I was very agitated, wanted to cry, and could not focus on the class. I am considering getting therapy.

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“LGBTI Panel is not a black stain on universities!”

An LGBTI organization started a petition following the decision of the rectorate of İnönü University to ban the panel to which Kaos GL was invited.

Source: “LGBTİ paneli üniversiteler için ‘kara leke’ değildir!” (“LGBTI Panel is not a black stain on universities!”), Kaos GL, April 3, 2015, kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=19105

After the rectorate banned the panel on LGBTI rights at İnönü University, Malatya, reactions from social media and LGBTI organizations ensued.

Protest and petitions on social media

Many users on social media criticized the homophobic stance of the university administration through the hashtag #HomofobikİnönüÜniversitesi.

The panel was to be held as a part of Rainbow Coalition Against Discrimination (Ayrımcılığa Karşı Gökkuşağı Koalisyonu), organized by Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat. LGBTI platforms under Malatya Gökkuşağı LGBTİ (Malatya Rainbow LGBTI) initiative have started a petition against the banning of the panel.

The panel  titled “Gender and Sexual Orientation” was organized by the PDR Group and among the participants was Kaos GL. The petition has been written as a reaction to the fact that the panel was not found appropriate by İnönü University’s administration. The petition condemns the justification of the said ban by the administration which states that they “do not want to be associated with these matters” and notes below points:

“We will not be deterred by the attitude of the rectorate!”

The administration is said to be refraining from association with the subjects of LGBTI, sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation on the grounds that these are threatening for the university. Furthermore, the administration claimed that the panel was rejected because Ali Erol from Kaos GL Organization and Evren E. Çakmak are not “agreeable people”.

“If the panel was held, it would have been a local activity of the Rainbow Against Discrimination project, supported by an EU Delegation, and the Pembe Hayat and Kaos GL organizations.”

“We condemn the HOMOPHOBIC and TRANSPHOBIC stance of İnönü University! The Rectorate should recognize the fact that panels that are/will be organized on the subjects of ‘LGBTI, sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation’ are not “black stains” and that they have a great role in the training of all professional fields. We know that just like all realms of life, İnönü University is an educational institution with students of diverse identities. In the street, at work, in the parliament and schools; we have existed, we do exist and we will continue to show our existence! Therefore, the attitude carried by the rectorate will not deter us but on the contrary it will strengthen our struggle against homophobia and transphobia.”

The petition is open to individual signatures as well as institutional signatures. To support the campaign, you can sign the petition here.

LGBTI student speaks about life in high school

LGBTI high school student explains: “As LGBTI students come together and organize in schools, peer violence and other forms of discrimination decrease.” He spoke of their demands and the reasons why they will join the education boycott.

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ öğrenci lise hayatını anlatıyor” (“LGBTI student speaks about life in high school”), Bianet.org, 11 February 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/162199-egitim-boykotundan-once-liseli-lgbti-anlatti

The High School LGBTI [Liseli LGBTI] initiative recently turned one year old. The initiative brings together LGBTI high school students and recent graduates. The initiative was established in Istanbul on 6 February 2014. It is [also] organized in Ankara and Izmir, and has undertaken activities in Mersin.

Emre Demir, one of the founders of the initiative, says there are both open and closeted LGBTIs in school life: “Here is what we observe: As LGBTI students come together and organize, peer violence and other forms of violence decrease. We see clear benefits to being together and organized.”

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“My Child” coming out documentary screening by the Kocaeli LGBTI Initiative

The screening of an LGBTI documentary called “My Child” brought hundreds of people together in the city of Kocaeli in Turkey.

Source: Buket Kaya, “Kocaeli’de Benim Çocuğum belgeseli salona sığmadı,” (Screening of My Child Documentary attracts hundreds of viewers,”) kaosGL.org, 16 November 2014,  http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17967

Organized by the Kocaeli LGBTI Initiative, Women’s Labor Collective and Education and Science Workers’ Union (Egitim-Sen) Kocaeli Branch Office, the screening welcomed “Families of LGBTs in Istanbul” (LISTAG) as guest speakers on Saturday evening at Izmit Public Education and Culture Center.

The families held a dinner at Egitim-Sen before the screening and talked with the members of the Kocaeli LGBTI Initiative on LGBTI visibility in the city and families’ stance towards the issue. The families also distributed LISTAG brochures.

Hall for 400 people was not enough

The hall with capacity for 400 people, and additional seats were completely filled before the screening despite the adverse weather conditions. Some participants had to watch the documentary standing.

Nazli Ulutepe from Egitim-Sen Kocaeli Branch Office said that education in Turkey is getting more and more conservative and homophobic, underlining that Egitim-Sen will work towards fighting the situation.

Muserref Ubuz from Women’s Labor Collective emphasized that LGBTI and women struggles are in solidarity with each other and that they will resist all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Time to take off the heteronormative masks!”

The most dramatic speech was given by a member of Kocaeli LGBTI Initiative who ascended the stage with a beard and make-up. The person told LGBTI people, forced to live with masks for years, to start throwing away these masks and to get involved in the fight to leave their oppressed lives.

Stating that not all babies, love, art and life are heterosexual, the person addressed the audience: “It is your turn to take off the heteronormative masks that the system forcefully put on you, it is your turn to fight discrimination hand in hand with us.”

After the speech, a minute of silence was dedicated to people excluded, pushed to commit suicide or murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A Q&A session with the families followed the screening. LISTAG families received a loud applause and expressed their gratitude. People with various occupations and students talked about the movie’s contribution to their lives and sought an answer to how they can fight discrimination in their fields of work. The event ended with participants clapping and cheering with slogans.

Education Symposium: “A non-discriminating school, a genderless restroom”

Source: Mehmet Akın, “Ayrımcı olmayan bir okul, cinsiyetsiz tuvalet.” (“A non-discriminating school, a genderless restroom.”) Kaos GL, 28 September 2014, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17612&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Source: Kaos GL

Source: Kaos GL

The symposium titled “Fighting against Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Field of Education” was held on September 27, 2014 at Bilgi University, Istanbul. One of the most commonly debated issues was the binary-gender restrooms in schools.

The symposium, which consisted of four sessions, was organized by Bilgi University Sociology and Education Studies [SEÇBİR]and by the Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association [SPoD] and was supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation. The attendees discussed the ways in which heteronormativity, sexism, and discriminatory practices are being and ought to be fought against in the field of education. Examples were provided through an interdisciplinary approach. SEÇBİR and SPoD will establish a study group in the near future and organize the struggle against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education.

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