LGBTI+ Community of Turkey Marks Transgender Remembrance Day 2018

The LGBTI+ community of Turkey once again showed solidarity, endurance and strength in gatherings to mark November 20 Transgender Remembrance Day. LGBTI+ activists and allies from Diyarbakır, Ankara, Antalya, İzmir and İstanbul organized meetings and press statements to stand against transphobic violence. The events will continue to take place throughout the week.

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Activists from Keskesor LGBTI+ in Diyarbakır leave carnations with the names of trans victims of hate crime on the River Tigris. Photo: Veysel M.

 

Keskesor is an LGBTI+ association from Diyarbakır. This year to commemorate the victims of transphobia the activists first covered the street of Diyarbakır with stickers that read “Trans children have rights too”, “Get used to it, we aren’t going anywhere!” and “Trans murders are political”. In their press statement, Keskesor activists drew attention to the increase in pressure against trans individuals after the declaration of the state of emergency and urged the government to take action on introducing a law against gender identity and sexual orientation based hate crimes. Keskesor activists stated “We commemorate all trans individuals and sex workers who were murdered and taken from us in hate murders. Our last word to the hypocritical, self-proclaimed guardians of morality is: We exist, we have existed and we will continue to exist!”

 

Ankara Chamber of Medicine LGBTIQ Studies Group has published a press statement on November 20 reporting on their activities as medical professionals in establishing psycho-social support mechanisms for trans individuals. The group stated:

“It is a requirement of the medical profession to establish psycho-social and medical support mechanisms in coping with health and post-traumatic problems of trans individuals and to ensure they have access to preventive medicine services and to protect their health including their “physical, pyschological and social wellness” as is the case for all members of society.

 

The first condition for being healthy is self-actualization. Yet trans individuals are barred from the exercise of this right, due to the ban against LGBTI+ activities in Ankara. The ban has been in place since November 17, 2017. Restrictions against the voices of the LGBTIQ population violate fundamental human rights and the right to healthcare. Violence against gender identities and sexual orientations is a public health issue. We will not stop stressing that we can not protect the public’s health without creating a world rid of phobic discourses that lead to violence.”

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The gathering in Antalya, Photo Credit: BİZ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association Facebook Page

 

In Antalya activists from BİZ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association,   as well as the Antalya Branch of the Human Rights Association’s newly-founded LGBTI Commission, Union and Party representatives gathered in front of Attalos Statue to read a press statement. A short extract from the statement follows:

 

“November 20 is the day to commemorate trans individuals who were killed, burned, sexually assaulted, beaten, othered and marginalized. Trans individuals are subject to psychological, economic and physical violence in every realm of society. A transphobic and homophobic discourse dominates the media. Despite the constitutional principle of equality there are thousands of trans women who are subject to discrimination and who are forced to employment in sex work. The binary gender regime can not tolerate those who are not dictated by it. Turkey is a country with one of the highest rates of hate murders. As some LGBTI+ individuals are victims of hate murders, social pressure sends others towards suicide . Yet hate crimes are not included in Turkish Penal Code. The judicial sentences are far from a deterrence. The murders are normalized and hate is deliberately supported. We won’t remain silent against violence. Against those who refuse to see and hear, we shout out the names of the trans individuals who are victims of hate murders. Do not remain silent.”

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Seyhan Arman, writer and performer of the play “Küründen Kabare”, receives her long-awaited Dilek İnce Award after her performance at an event organized by Çankaya Municipality. Arman was to be given the award on last year’s November 20 Transgender Remembrance Day Ceremony of Pink Life Association but the event was cancelled due to the governorship ban which is still in order. Photo: Pink Life

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İzmir November 20 Platform’s flyer for November 20, 2018.

In İzmir, The November 20 Platform came together to read a press statement. The activists said:

“Trans murders are political. The assignment of guards and patrols to siege our living spaces and policies of social isolation are violations of human rights. Those who are a part of the growing discourse of hate and targeting of trans individuals in media are as guilty as the perpetrators of hate crimes. It is clear as day that unless any measures are taken against hate crime, the assaults and murders will not be prevented. We address all law makers. Trying to render us invisible and banning our activities cannot not stop trans murders. We need a law against trans murders! You are not sick, you’re neither alone nor wrong!

 

The events in Istanbul organized by Pink Life and SPoD will continue through 23-24th November (see our previous story). At Boysan’s House on November 25 at 15:00 a panel on hate murders and transphobia will take place under the scope of November 20 Transgender Remembrance Day. The panelists are Pınar Ege from Trans*House and Kuzey Çakır, a member of Communist LGBTI community. Boysan’s House hosts activities against homophobia and transphobia. The house belonged to Boysan Yakar, a LGBTI activist and Counsel to the Mayor of Şişli who lost his life in a car accident in September 2015.

Solidarity on Social Media

The impact of LGBTI activism was also visible on the solidarity messages shared across social media by different institutions. We compiled some for our English speaking readers:

 

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A tweet by the Kadıköy Town Council LGBTI Assembly reads: “No to hate, not only on Transgender Remembrance Day but everyday! #LongLiveLifeAgainstHatred”

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A tweet by Nilüfer Municipality reads “Today is Transgender Remembrance Day! #LongLiveLifeAgainstHatred!”

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A tweet by Gökkuşağının Kızılı (The Communist Party’s LGBTI+ Organization) says: “Hatred against trans individuals is class-based, trans murders are political. Let’s fight for equality, education and employment security of trans individuals. Let’s organize for freedom and to bring down the binary gender regime”.

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Şişli Municipality shared KaosGL’s report on Hate Crimes in 2017, and wrote “According to KaosGL’s report hate crimes mostly take place in public spaces, the perpetrators are often groups of more than two people and attacks take place in the presence of bystanders. #LongLiveLifeAgainstHatred Don’t Hate.”

 

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.

On the Third Day of Mersin Pride Week: We are Getting Wet!

Mersin Pride will continue through the week. Today, July 11, marks the third day of events and the 4th Mersin Pride is once more about resistance!

Source: “On the Third Day of Mersin Pride Week: We are Getting Wet!”, (Mersin Onur Haftası’nın Üçüncü Gününde:Islanıyoruz!”, pembehayat, July 11, 2018,  http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1837       

The 4th Mersin Pride events will continue throughout the week, starting with pride swimming on July 9, 2018. There will be panels and exhibitions which curate topics which range from the forced migration of LGBTI+ people, to a forum and discussion about the rejection of masculinity, to the opening of an art show titled Night” which focuses on the life of Elif–who could not endure her family’s pressure and committed suicide. On day three of Mersin Pride Week, there will be an event titled “A Rejection Story: The Ugly Duckling and Finding our Own Swans.”

Another event taking place on the third day of the pride week is “We are Getting Wet: A Gullüm Knowledge Contest.” Mersin Pride Week will continue to open spaces for struggle through resistance, just as it began this year with the adoption of the same slogan.

Don’t Forget to Stop by Night!

Night” is an exhibition that focuses on the life of a trans woman who spoke with Pembe Hayat about her experience at the factory she worked in, including the harassment she was subjected to which resulted in her leaving her job, and who later committed suicide.

Works by Raziye Köksal Kartal and Ateş Alpar focus on Elif’s point of view and her life in Mersin. Kartal, who spoke at the opening of the exhibition, said they titled the exhibition after Elif’s dog as a way to remember her.

You can find out more about Mersin Pride Week by checking out their Facebook page here.

 

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released

Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity Released Today after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Source: “Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ is Released”, (“ODTÜ LGBTİ+’dan Özgür Gür Serbest”), pembehayat, July 9, 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1833

Özgür Gür from Middle East Technical University (METU),  LGBTI+ Solidarity, as well as the head of the Council of Student Representatives (CSR) was taken from his home and detained on Sunday, July 8. He was released today, July 9, after his statement at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Gür’s lawyer, Erkan Çiftçi, said that during Gür’s detainment at the police station he was questioned about banners put up at METU graduation ceremony which read: “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus.” Another banner read: “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Çiftçi stated that Mehmet Gür also asked: “did you shout out ‘Rector Resign’ slogans?”

What had happened?

METU security guards attacked students who put up a rainbow flag and banners during the graduation ceremony.

At first the private security guards said “we’ll take the flag down”, then they threatened the students from METU LGBT+ Solidarity who put up a rainbow flag at the bleachers. The security guards attacked students when they put up banners during the rector’s speech that said, “We are not a group of students, but the school’s LGBTI+ people. We are here! It is our right to live safely on the streets and on campus” and “Verşan Kök cannot be the rector of METU.”

Three students were detained after the protests at the graduation ceremony on July 6, 2018. Özgür Gür from METU LGBTI+ Solidarity, the head of the CSR, was taken from his home today and detained.

 

After “Perversion” flyers in Ankara, “Revolting” flyers in Izmir were distributed

After flyers that said, “Homosexuality is perversion” were distributed in residential mailboxes in Esat, Ankara today (July 20), flyers that said “Homosexuality is revolting and could be reversed by means of persuasion” were distributed to people living in Kordon, Izmir.

Source: “After “Perversion” flyers in Ankara, “Revolting” flyers in Izmir were distributed”, (Ankara’da “Sapkınlıktır” Bildirisinden Sonra İzmir’de “İğrençliktir” Bildirileri Dağıtıldı), pembehayat.org, July 20, 2018, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1844

Flyers that said, “No to homosexuality and homosexual organizations” were distributed today in Esat, Ankara. These flyers proliferate hate speech, refer to homosexuals as “sexual perverts” and claim that they are supported by the “British deep state.”

Flyers that said, “Homosexuality could be reversed by means of persuasion; it is immoral and revolting” were distributed to people sitting on grass at a park in Alsancak, Izmir. The flyers state that youths should not fall into this trap, [and] protect their moral values and live an “honorable” life. They claim this under the guise of “human rights” and continue with “We want Kemalist young men who protect their country and people, not young men who put on make-up and have a soft spoken voice.”

“These people are detached from love.”

One person who saw these flyers being distributed spoke with Pembe Hayat:

“I do not understand how people can think that homosexuality can be reversed by ‘persuasion’ in 2018 when the DSM* removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders many years ago. It is obvious to me that these people are detached from scientific knowledge and love. When there is such good progress being made regarding LGBTI+ people; when marriage is becoming legalized around the world, homosexuals in Turkey are still being targeted with homophobic attitudes through these kinds of leaflets. How long will LGBTI+ people have to hide their love? How long are they going to be subjected to hate speech and to stares of disgust when they walk hand in hand? Nobody can decide for anybody who they should love. The rainbow will always exist.”

*DSM: the abbreviation for American Psychological Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.” The American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1973.