A gay man’s conscript experience: I would use SPF 50 sunscreen on sunny days

Source: Ayşe Arman, “Bir gay’in askerlik anıları: Güneşli havalarda, 50 faktör güneş kremi sürüyordum”, (“A gay man’s conscript experience: I would use SPF 50 sunscreen in sunny days”), Hürriyet Kelebek, 16 August 2014, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/kelebek/hayat/27009085.asp

“All men born in Turkey must serve in the military when they reach a certain age. Well, I was born here too and I am a man…”

“I am gay and I have just returned from the military upon the completion of my military service. You have published several stories on the ordeals gay men, homosexuals and trans individuals must go through in order to avoid serving in the military. As for me, I would like to explain to you why I chose to serve and tell you of my experiences during military service. Would you be interested?”

I called him immediately and we met for an interview.

Kaan Arer is an impressive man. He is educated and knowledgeable, frank and sincere and very intelligent as well. He is a mathematician and the winner of a TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) award.

He requested that we not reveal his face in the photos accompanying this article as he continues to work as a teacher.

Kaan Arer has a blog where writes about homosexuality.

Some of his pieces are quite brave. He has written about an occasion, during his military service, when his boyfriend visited him on a day off. He wrote of how they made love in a café restroom. His description of this event, quite far from being tawdry, is sensitive and elegant.

I wish him all the best in his life as a mathematician and as a writer.


Lots of guns but no trans!

Source: Helin, “Top Var, Tüfek Var, trans yok!” (“Lots of guns but no trans!”), KaosGL, 15 August 2014 [March-April 2011], http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17309.

Helin wrote about her “adventure with the military” for KaosGL’s 117th issue (March – April 2011) titled “Militarism.”

My name is Helin; I am a 26 year old transsexual woman. My adventure with the military lasted for about six days. And this process was such a tiring and chafing one… Even now, as I am writing about my experiences, I get goose bumps: I might end up having to re-experience this all over again as I write about it. I was a teacher for 3 years following my BA. I was so anxious about the military that I neither had the power to go to the draft office, nor to get a “pink report.” I didn’t want to get into trouble with these procedures. This year, along with the process of opening up to my family, I found that power in me.

The First Day

Doctor: “Are your breasts real?”

I didn’t know what I was about to live through as I, along with my mother, set out to Cebeci Draft Office; nor did I know that my adventure was going to last so long. The appalling experience had already started in my very first moments as I stepped through the doors of the office. Once our belongings were searched, we were asked for our IDs. I find it very difficult to describe how I felt at that moment. I gave my ID card to the soldier in front of me with much haste and without looking at his face. But this haste couldn’t prevent the chuckles, the whispers, nor the sounds and gestures of disapproval, along with the humiliating looks, to surround us. Both my mother and I had become so tense that I don’t remember how we went from that doorway to the relevant office. Once there, they referred us to Mamak Draft Office, which was located at another floor of the same building. Here, we were surrounded yet again by the gaze of both the officers and the draft candidates who were receiving their conscription. The minutes that would truly wear me out were those when it was our turn to be served. I was asked to get 24 passport-style photos downstairs. Everyone was gazing at me as my photographs were being taken. Some were looking in a manner to harass me because they understood that I was trans, and others because I was a woman. Even though we were inside this office, there were even some who verbally harassed me, as if we were on the streets. I remember how I got hot flashes, how my hands started sweating, and how I wanted to die. Without my mother at my side, I wouldn’t have stayed there for a moment. But I endured. Because in order for me to do as I wanted, I needed that report that would brand me as “ill.” This was a great contradiction for me. I kept trying to explain to my family that I was not ill. And now, with my mother beside me, I was officially petitioning the state to accept that I was ill and to not draft me.