transphobia

Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Istanbul Zorlu Center branch

A Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming “customers are uncomfortable.”

Source: “Transphobia at Victoria’s Secret’s Zorlu Branch,” kaosGL.org, 30 June 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=2411

Victoria’s Secret branch at Istanbul Zorlu Center prevented a trans customer from shopping, claiming that “customers are uncomfortable” On June 28, Gülşen Afife went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra. After finding the right product with the help of a sales advisor she walked towards the changing room, but the changing room clerk started laughing and called the store manager. The managers told Gülşen Afife “customers are uncomfortable, you can’t use the changing room”.

“The clerk called the manager laughing”

Here is Gülşen Afife’s account of the transphobic and discriminatory practice she was exposed to:

“Yesterday (June 28) around 17:00, I went to Zorlu Center Victoria’s Secret store to buy a bra that I needed. After finding the right product with the sales advisor, I went in the changing room to try it on. Those who are familiar with changing rooms know, each cabin is designed like a room, with an armchair inside. You enter the room with the clerk who helps you while trying the product on. There is no possibility for anyone to see you.

When I got in the changing room area, I told the clerk that I would like to try it on and that I’m waiting in line. The clerk went out laughing and two women claiming to be the managers arrived after two minutes. Meanwhile some of the cabins became available but I couldn’t enter any of them since there were no clerks to help me with the product.

“Please don’t, sir”

One of the two women said ‘Unfortunately you can’t try it on here, we can’t allow you.’ When I asked the reason, she told me that women are try on things here and they haven’t allowed it before. I said ‘I am a woman’ but they replied ‘Please don’t, sir.’

“Customers are uncomfortable”

I asked ‘Is this a company policy?’ I said ‘An international company who employs many LGBTIs from the designer to the presser of this bra I’m holding in my hands cannot have such a decision’ She said ‘We have many gay employees but the customers are uncomfortable with you trying it on here, we got feedback.’

‘If they are customers, who am I? Who gets uncomfortable from what in closed cabins? Are they uncomfortable at the common waiting area? Then you shouldn’t let trans women and gay people to enter the store’ I said. When they repeated ‘Don’t take it personally, we have gay employees, it’s not a personal matter, customers are getting uncomfortable,’ I didn’t want to take it further. As a trans women at the beginning of her transition process, I indicated that what they are doing is a hate crime and discrimination, and I had to leave the store while receiving support from other women in the cabins.”

Gülşen Afife, who was subjected to a transphobic practice in Victoria’s Secret store at Istanbul Zorlu Center, stated that she will press charges on the ground of discrimination.

Transphobic Murder in Çorlu

In Çorlu, offender F.T. stabbed and killed Aleda, a trans sex worker with whom he engaged in a fight. F.T. admitted the murder in the cab he took.

Source: “Çorlu’da Transfobik Nefret Cinayeti” (“Transphobic Murder in Çorlu”), Pembe Hayat, 20 March 2016, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1032#.Vu7WLKVvJdk

The transphobic murderer and Aleda started fighting in Aleda’s home for mysterious reasons. Subsequently, he stabbed Aleda and fled the crime scene. He then took a cab, with his clothes covered in blood, and told the driver he killed someone. The driver called the cops as soon as he dropped off F.T. Police found Aleda’s dead body at the address provided by the driver. Aleda’s body was taken to Çorlu State Hospital morgue for autopsy.

Security forces found the murderer F.T. in his home and detained him approximately an hour after the incident. F.T. was taken to  Çorlu Police Station, officials announced that investigation continues.

Two transphobic attacks in Istanbul on 12 May

On Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 2 trans women sex workers were attacked in different districts in Istanbul (Fındıkzade and Bağdat Boulevard).

Source: Pembe Hayat, “İstanbul’da Dün Gece 2 Yerde Transfobik Nefret Saldırısı Yaşandı”, (“Two transphobic attacks in Istanbul on 12 May”), pembehayat.org, 13 May 2015, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=766

Migel, a trans woman sex worker living in Fındıkzade, was attacked in her own apartment by a group of men. She was brutally injured with deep cuts on several parts of her body. She was brought to Sisli Etfal Hospital by her friends. The attackers were caught after statements to the police and prosecutor’s office. The attackers had previous records for robbery and assault and are in custody.

One night, two attacks

The same night, Işıl, another trans woman sex worker in Bağdat Boulevard, was attacked by a group of 5 men. She was assaulted and her jaw was broken. She is receiving treatment in a hospital. Her situation is stable but there are bruises on her body due to the assault. The attackers have not been found.

Attacks on trans women are increasing

Last week there were 4 attacks on trans women sex workers in 3 different cities (Istanbul, Izmir and Kocaeli). Pembe Hayat/Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association protested these attacks in Ankara with a press release.

Ankara Bar Association provides pro-bono legal support for right violations against LGBTIs. Trans residents of Ankara can contact the Gelincik Center for pro-bono legal aid from the Bar Association.

4 Trans Sex Workers Attacked in One Night

4 trans sex worker women were attacked last night [May 2, 2015] in the cities of Istanbul, Kocaeli, and Izmir.

Source: Bianet, “Bir Gecede 4 Trans Seks İşçisi Saldırıya Uğradı” [“4 Trans Sex Workers Attacked in One Night”], bianet.org, 3 May 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/164272-bir-gecede-4-trans-seks-iscisi-saldiriya-ugradi

In Istanbul’s Şişli district, a woman named Gülşen was found stabbed in her home. According to the statements by Gülşen’s friends, two men who were previously her clients came to her home and attacked her with a knife and a skewer. Trans women, sex workers, and supporters arrived at Şişli Etfal Hospital, where Gülşen was taken to. Gülşen was transferred to the ICU in critical condition following a long surgery.

Those who went to Şişli Etfal for solidarity reported that another trans sex worker woman was shot and brought to the hospital around 6am. The woman is reported to be in stable condition.

In Izmir, again on the night of 2 May 2015, a trans sex worker woman was stabbed in the back by unidentified persons.

The same night, in Kocaeli – Gebze, three trans women were assaulted by an armed client in the house where they had just moved in. One woman was hospitalized with leg wounds.

The Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association called on all trans women and sex workers for solidarity and said, in their press release:

“We are calling for respective law enforcement officers to find the assailants immediately and for the judicial branch to punish them accordingly. We are inviting the government and all sects of the society to act with genuine solidarity with trans sex worker women and meet their demands.”

Eylül Cansın’s mother speaks of her daughter’s suicide, discrimination, and trans gangs

The mother of Eylül Cansın- a trans woman who committed suicide- told the story of her daughter’s 23 years, from her childhood to her death.

Source: Michelle Demishevic, “’Kadıköy trans çetesi kızım Eylül Cansın’ı pazarladı, uyuşturucuya zorladı, işkence yaptı!”, (“The Kadıköy trans gang sold my daughter Eylül Cansın, forced her to do drugs, tortured her!”), T24, 19 January 2015, http://t24.com.tr/haber/kadikoy-trans-cetesi-kizim-eylul-cansini-pazarladi-uyusturucuya-zorladi-iskence-yapti,284174

23-year-old trans woman Eylül Cansın jumped off of the Bosphorus Bridge on January 4, 2015 at around 03:30 a.m. As her deceased body was found near the Ortaköy shore,  the video she had recorded before jumping off circulated on social media after being published on T24. “Today is my best day. I am very happy but today will be another better day for me. Thank you all,” she said at the beginning of her video continuing:

“I couldn’t because people didn’t let me. I couldn’t work, I wanted to do things but I couldn’t. You get me? They impeded with me many times; they made me suffer a lot. I leave everyone alone with God and now I’m going to the Bosphorus Bridge.”

In spite of Cansın saying so in her video, her mother says that this is not a suicide. Cansın’s mother, Mrs. Bala, to whom Cansın calls out to in the video saying,  “Mom, all I want is, I have a little dog at home, I leave him to you. He never pees, never poops at home. Always say to him ‘he is my child’, never get angry with him,” asks this question:

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Trans woman from Turkey was killed in Vienna

Having left Turkey for Vienna due to transphobic pressure, trans woman Hande Öncü was killed in a hate crime. Öncü’s body will be brought back to Turkey thanks to Trans Angels’ extensive efforts.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Türkiyeli trans kadın Viyana’da öldürüldü” (Trans woman from Turkey was killed in Vienna), KaosGL.org, 29 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18598

Hande Öncü, a transwoman from Turkey in Vienna, lost her life in a hate crime. Öncü was choked to death by unidentified people who tied her arms and legs behind her back. Her body will be returned to Turkey as a result of extensive efforts.

Öncü had applied for asylum in Austria and had been living in Vienna for approximately a year and a half. Öncü had applied for asylum because of the trans discrimination she had experienced in Turkey.

Öncü’s trans friends in Turkey were saddened by the hate crime that took her life. Trans Angels, an association that aims to improve the support network among trans individuals, immediately organized the effort to bring Öncü’s body back to Turkey.

Her body is being brought back to Izmir

Öncü’s body was to be cremated because of her refugee status, but Trans Angels refused cremation and collected the amount of money necessary to bring the body back to Turkey. Öncü’s body will be returned to Turkey wrapped in a rainbow flag.

Öykü Ay from Trans Angels spoke to KaosGL about the process remarking that they are supporting each other as trans women as usual. Ay said, “We can’t assent to the cremation of a friend who had escaped to Vienna because of the transphobic violence here. We have organized from Edirne to Kars and have taken responsibility for our friend. We collected money and paid for the autopsy and freight. We have also taken on the cost of the funeral.”

“Once again, we have seen the hypocrisy of society and the family”

İlayda, an LGBTI activist from Istanbul and Öncü’s roommate in Izmir, reminisced about her late friend:

“She was a very dear friend of ours. We spent a great time together. She used to see me off at the airport every time I left the town to go to meetings and panels. She would go everywhere with her friends; she would look after them. May the lights be her companion. We’re losing many of our friends to hate crimes. Not another day goes by without losing another friend. It was particularly hard this time because it happened abroad. The fact that the family has refused to claim the body of our friend shows the hypocrisy of society and the families.”

Öncü’s body is being brought back to Izmir. She will be laid to rest shortly with Trans Angels and her friends in attendance.

Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Trans Çingene Gül Öldürüldü,” (“Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul,”) bianet, 9 October 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/159065-trans-cingene-gul-olduruldu#

Çingene Gül, a trans woman, was found dead in her Istanbul apartment on October 8. While the autopsy is yet to be completed, it is suspected that she was murdered two days ago because her friends didn’t hear from her for two days.

Her neighbor Melek Emir said,  “Two nights ago, I heard noises from the apartment building. Gül never makes noise. At first, I thought somebody was trying to break in, then I heard the door open and close. I supposed Gül couldn’t find her keys or something. I never reckoned such a thing would ever happen.”

Gül’s street is crowded with police officers investigating the events and onlookers after her friends found her body. All the women in the neighborhood recognize Gül. “She smiled all the time, she would greet everyone on the street. She wouldn’t disturb anybody.”

Gül’s trans friends argued with the police in order to see her one last time. Police said they could do so in small groups provided that they wouldn’t cry out, touch her or bring disorder to the crime scene.

Her friends claim that trans sex workers are usually murdered by their clients – which they think was also the fate of Gül. They also said Gül didn’t receive customers in her apartment and preferred to use hotels or other venues. They also brought up the possibility of burglary. However, police said that it was not possible to know that at the time.

Utku who found Gül’s body and said, “I went to her apartment after not hearing from her. I knocked on the window, I tried the doorbell, but she didn’t respond. Then her upstairs neighbor buzzed me into the building. I had to break into Gül’s apartment via the backyard. She wasn’t in her bedroom. When I went to the living room, I saw her lying on the floor and I ran away screaming.”

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