Istanbul LGBTT

Crisis at the Hammam

Source: Can Mumay, “Hamamda Kriz,” (“Crisis at the Hammam,”), Hürriyet, 8 January 2014,  http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/ekonomi/25517449.asp

Following the event when transsexual Ebru Kırancı was not allowed to go into the Galatasaray Hammam (bathhouse in Istanbul), a demonstration in front of the hammam drew attention to the venue. The venue owner Can Cenik says that the bathhouse clients are disturbed by transsexuals and that is why they do not allow them to enter the hammam.

A transsexual named Ebru Kırancı (53) went to the historical Galatasaray Hammam in Istanbul on the evening of 26 December about 6:30 PM.

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Istanbul LGBTT Statement on Discrimination at Galatasaray Hammam

Source: “Basına, Kamuoyuna ve Tüm LGBT Hakları Destekçilerine Duyurulur – İHBAR EDİYORUZ!”) (“We Announce To the Press, the Public and All Supporters of LGBT Rights – WE DENOUNCE!”), http://www.istanbul-lgbtt.net/lgbtt/haber_detay.asp?haberID=171

DISCRIMINATION IS A CRIME! DISCRIMINATION IS TRANSPHOBIA!

“We have had some problems before, concerning transgenders. Our clients have made complaints. That is why we generally do not want to let transsexuals into the hammam. We state this to them in a polite way. Some thank us for our way of expression.”

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LGBT Organizations and Independent Activists in Istanbul Start the “LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform”

Source:  SPoD, “İstanbul’daki LGBT Örgütleri ve Bağımsız Aktivistler LGBT Siyasi Temel ve Katılım Platformunu Kurdu,” (“LGBT Organizations and Independent Activists in Istanbul Start the LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform,”) http://www.spod.org.tr/turkce/istanbuldaki-lgbt-orgutleri-ve-bagimsiz-aktivistler-lgbt-siyasi-temsil-ve-katilim-platformunu-kurdu/

The Gezi Resistance and the continuing park forums have led to an unmistakeable conclusion for LGBTs: the opportunities for our visibility and the clear expression of our common demands. LGBTs combined their long years of experience with the power of the resistance and the support of different parts of society and poured out to the streets as tens of thousands of people in the 21st Pride Walk.

With the power we attained from the Gezi Resistance and the struggle LGBTs have led for years, we have started working on the “LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform.” The platform aims to bring our political demands regarding the local elections to a common ground and to ensure that our demands are respected, improved, and set to motion.

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Once Upon A Time in Queerland: Ülker Street and Süleyman the Hose

Source: Elçin Turan, “Bir Zamanlar Lubunistan,” (“Once Upon a Time in Queerland,”) Ajans Tabloid, 7 February 2011, http://www.ajanstabloid.com/haber.aspx?pid=63

When we look back in history, we see that Cihangir has been the location of special meeting houses or “bachelor pads” from the early years of the Republic. After the 1980s, Cihangir’s embrace of transvestites and transsexuals made it the place for marginals and bachelors, intellectuals and artists who did not mind living with them. Trans people get displaced as a result of police operations time after time; after Abanoz Street, Pürtelaş, Sormagir they settled in Ülker Street. Ülker Sokak became a “liberated area” and trans people succeeded to organize under their own identities. However, police forces under the helm of Beyoğlu Police Department’s Chief Police Officer Süleyman Ulusoy launched constant operations and violated trans people’s right to live. According to trans testimonies, neighborhood resident “Güngör Abla’s” collaboration with the police and her exploitation of discourses such as honor, religion, country in order to persuade other residents to join her in the assault of trans people in one more street in Beyoğlu made trans people’s identity, culture, lifestyle, and lives a target and thus another part of the area was “cleaned” of trans people.

We talked with İstanbul LGBTT activist Demet Demir and LGBTT member and Women’s Gate (Kadınkapısı) STD prevention center activist Şevval Kılıç about the creation of a street and the story of its downfall, trans people’s organization in the streets of Beyoğlu, and living/not living with transvestite and transsexual identities.

Why did transvestites and transsexuals (TT) choose Beyoğlu as their living place?

Demet: Beyoğlu is a place where othered people can live. It has been the place of artists and all othered people from the beginning. Cihangir and Tarlabaşı embraced the TTs 30 years ago just like they do today. The difference in Tarlabaşı was the fact that the first TT residents there did not bring clients to their homes as neighborhood residents did not allow them to.

Şevval: Pürtelaş, Sormagir (now Başbuğ Street) and Ülker Street were our hangouts. The fascist attitudes of the Beyoğlu Beautification Association and the Cihangir Beautification Association towards us should not be overlooked when life in these streets is discussed. They were the ones who brought Süleyman the Hose (Süleyman Ulusoy aka Hortum Süleyman, dubbed the Hose because he used hoses to beat trans people), they all collaborated with the state back then.

Demet: Cihangir disbanded in 1989. There was nobody left there by 1990. We owned 5 or 6 streets back then. Cihangir was our empire.

Şevval: We called it Queerland or Fagland.

Demet: Think of an empire disintegrating and a small part remaining. Ülker Street was that small part left of that empire. Then going out to the E5 highway, deaths, and migration to other places started. We were deported. Then came the second dispersion with Ülker Street.

Şevval: I call these streets ghettos. There are both positive and negatives results of a ghetto’s dispersion. Cihangir was the first LGBTT ghetto and probably the only real one. It was perfect for its group dynamics but it also set us back in the matter of social integration because all our friends and our role models were trans. We were introverted. We became more exposed to hate-motivated killings. The Hose came and broke our doors, burned our houses down. We gained Kurtuluş and Pangaltı but still…

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