“Violence Stories from Turkey” is a project by Intercultural Research Association that aims to archive and document the phenomenon of violence in Turkey; to prevent events of violence and their victims from “becoming ordinary” and “turning into statistics”; to investigate the conditions of violence in order to make future projections; and to bring together NGOs, civil society, and advocates for the defense of victims’ rights. The project publishes photographs and interviews with victims or witnesses in a simple and flexible format that allows the interviewees to express themselves.
Source: Doğu Eroğlu, “Cinsiyet kimliğim yüzünden öğretmenlikten istifa ettirildim”, (“I was forced to resign from teaching because of my gender identity”,) Türkiye’den Şiddet Hikayeleri, 22 December 2012, http://www.siddethikayeleri.com/cinsiyet-kimligim-yuzunden-ogretmenlikten-istifa-ettirildim/
Trans activist and sex worker Sinem Kuzucan had to resign from her teaching job because of pressure due to her gender identity. Kuzucan talked to “Violence Stories from Turkey” about the existence of trans people in the public, the Misdemeanor Law and the Turkish National Police’s performance system that limits the living space of sex workers.
How did you first encounter the concept of violence? Were you ever subjected to violence before realizing your gender identity?
The most severe violence in the life of a trans person is evil stares. I mean the stares like “What is it, who is it?” When a child realizes that something is different about himself or herself, he or she does not really understand “identity”. I had the same experience. You do not really know who you will resemble, who you will become- your mother or father. Even though you have not figured it out, your family, kids on the street, friends from school see your difference. “Sissy Ali, Sissy Murat” are the nicknames. In fact, you figure what is going on when you hear these names. This is where the violence starts. This broadening discrimination excludes you from your family, from education, from employment. You cannot find any place in life.
What kind of trauma does this pressure and social discrimination create?
The social violence a trans person is exposed to in her early life affects her whole life. Your access to education is prevented because of discrimination from schoolmates. You are deprived of family support, as well. They say things like “what will others say, why do you behave like this, do not trot like a girl” and when this turns into physical violence, you have to leave home. You don’t have a school after leaving home. Without the two, you are hardly employable. The violence and discrimination you are subjected to at this point in your life changes your whole life. I lived through this; if I had suppressed my identity, I would have a so-called “normal” life.
We are taught by society that there is either man or woman. In my teaching job, even though I am a trans person, I was forced to tell the same story about the nuclear family to my students. This is how it was taught to us as well. Egalitarian legal regulations are important for transforming these discriminative attitudes. If this society is in its current situation due to monotypic laws and regulations, then it can be transformed through new regulations. We should start with the law. When it comes to trans murders, they reduced penalties on the pretext of provocation for years. In the past, trans murderers would be sentenced to two years or they would not be punished at all. Now at least they are sentenced to fifteen years. As laws become more egalitarian, society will have to adapt with time. Temporal periods are never easy.