Took One Step Further

Buse Kılıçkaya

Took One Step Further, Brought Steps Along with Us: Walking…

“Paths of the hell is paved with the rocks of good faith.”

Although the history of our transexual organization experience is not so early, with the development of woman movement, transexual movement has also picked up speed. It was Women General Assembly (Kadın Kurultay) when a transexual has for the first time, brought up his/her problems as part of the women movement. I heard from Nazik Işık that once in a general assembly in which ”Women Movement in Turkey” is the subject matter of academy seminers taking place in Kaos GL, audience overreacted when they recognize that the conferencier is a transexual and against all the interruptions that transexual friend could end up her speech. Especially ‘Ülker Street events’ has been an important turning point for transexuals, for Turkish transexual movement and for feminist movement. During the following process, there have been ‘Humanly Living Platform’ attempt as a organization experience for transexuals who live in Ankara. This attempt has started with good intentions however, caused us repeating the saying ” Paths of the hell is paved with the rocks of good faith” again and again. During the process of this attempt transexual friends are also exploited and othered by their own initiative, while they are marginalized by the society.

In Turkey ‘Homosexual Movement’-such like its header- had struggled on gays and lesbians existence for years since 1990’s. On the other hand, the act which can be named as ‘Transexual freedom act’ started to develop with ‘Pink Life'(Pembe Hayat)** process in 2006s.

Pink Life is founded after the process we decided to start organized struggle against violence which continues increasingly by the police and the society. We wanted to struggle in spite of the saying ”Police force is an indispensible destiny for transexual beings and sexual labourers and it should be obeyed for the sake of bread.”

” The tactic which had been used for revolutionist students in 80’s, has being used for transexual individuals this time.”

One night, one of our friends is tried to be taken from a commercial car by police team known as balyoz ‘sledgehammer’ in Bağlar Caddesi. Other transexual friends who went for the help, also faced with police violence and kept under surveillance in an illegal way until morning. In the morning, when they faced with the prosecutor to lodge a complaint, they find themselves being judged of ‘holding out to police’ ‘polise mukavemet’. That is to say, they are pushed to the position from customer to defendant. The tactic which had been used for revolutionist students in 80’s, has being used for transexual individuals this time. The only way we could apply was getting organized.

We started to the process of Pink Life establishment with deficiency on legal righs and applications. Despite our defects, Pink Life has extent the limits of transexual organization in Turkey and paved the way for being evolved as a LGBTT act. Also Pink Life, lead transexual being’s setting their own initiatives in the process of democratization for the first time in Turkey. The support of homosexual organizations was substantial for us during that process. However, the thickest wall that we must destroy, was bad experiences of organization that transexual friends had before.

“Boomerang of Sexual Labor”

Our organization is about to get 2 years old and we are still facing with a lot of human rights violations. Transexual beings -especially in our country- can not have alternative jobs except sexual labor. Because they can not have any other work chance or they are ailenated. Therefore, sexual labor is a dilemma that transexuals come up against all the time such like a boomerang. ‘Society’s perspective on sexual labor is referred as ‘ an easy way to earn money” and they thought of transexuals as men who disguise women to do sexual labor.

Their point of intersection is almost the same for beings who do sexual labor. These points appeals to be same in a lot of places such like police offices, hospitals, stews, brothels, streets and bars. When the subject matter is coercion of system, the structure of grievance is almost the same in everywhere. Though, trans women sex laborers and biologically women sex laborers also have different kinds of problems from each other. It is a common perspective of the society that trans women are all sex laborers and they are more visible. Biologically women sex laborers are not so visible. They have a ‘chance’ to camouflage themselves.

We found an opportunity to meet with heterosexual sex laborer women in the field of a project. We enter into partnership in many ways however they can not be effective in organization because of their invisibility problem. They concede the violence that they are subjected to and they avoid from being organized in order not to sustain more violence. Transexual beings’ -no matter if they want or not- visibility increases the dimension of violence and creates a resistance to fight with violence without preoccupation. In that exact point, it is very difficult to include heterosexual sex laborer women into struggle.

In 2007, we did a press statement in front of Worker Placement Agency building and this press statement confused a lot of people. The fact that still there is not any answers to our applications to Worker Placement Agency, is a proof of the perspective of government institutions on us. Our grievance is not limited with this. Even when we go in to the institution to fill a form police blocades us and say that we can not enter as a group. This indicates the absolute reality.

” Systematic Police Force”

In case police actions exceeds the limits of their authority. Especially with PVSK***, a lot of transexual have been subjected to police force both physically and psycologically. They are subjected to sexual harrasment and rape for hours under surveillance in police cars. Then, they have been left out to suburbs , or cesspools or to isolated environments. The police behaviour itself reproduces discrimination and violence. The nearest example of this, is the fact of a transexual called Melisa who is shot from her arm in İzmir. When an individual tends to appeal to court beause of police force, she is discouraged forcefully by some methods. If she insists on her claim, by using another methods roles are shifted and police suddenly become the prosecutor. To make matters worse, these individuals are obstructed in different working environments with different methods over and over again. These practices reftect as intimidation and thread to other individuals who will lodge a complaint. Whatever they face with, if the number of individuals who do not keep silent at police force increase, this time these individuals , again by using different kinds of methods for instance by pretending ‘Law of Kabahatler ‘, are amerced to 125 TL. Police’s tendancy to violence causes and strengthens for transexuals to come across with other types of violence from customers and gangs. For instance a group known as Eryaman Gang attacks on individuals, on cars and on houses and these attacks are not limited to Eryaman. A lot of transexual do not choose to go to police when they encounter with violence because they know that the police would not back them up. Herein a lot of sex laborer individuals come across to crisis of confidence. They are forced to migrations. This is another type of violence that sex laborer individuals are exposed to.

The Problems of Sex Laborers

The problems of sex laborers carry different dimensions such as; health, social insurance, family, police, transfobic approaches during judgment, gangs and agents, Law of Kabahatler, being under home seal, the attitude of mainstream media and finally use of drugs. AIDS in particular sexually infecting diseases threaten sex laborers in Turkey just like in the world. There have not been any comprehensive workings about health of sex laborers and Turkish health politics also does not include this issue. There have been made some information meetings by the mediation of some projects and condoms are distributed for safe sex. However these distributed condoms are made out the case and in lots of provinces, especially in İstanbul, a lot of transexual’s homes are closed, their doors are broken. In fact, police have searched for transexuals’ bags in streets and the ones who carries more than one condom; are taken into surveillance arbitrarily or the happenings end up with violence. Condoms which are distributed by a ministry is counted as element of crime by another ministry. There is not enough information about if the biologically woman sex laborers exercise the same or not.

Problems in the matter of condoms is not limited with these. Especially for young sex laborers, it would be very hard to convince the customers to use condoms. Elder sex laborers because of the thought ‘there is not that elastic bands before’ or not to lose customer do not take this precaution. Attitude of media is sexist and discriminatory for all sex laborers like for all transexuals. When the subject matter is sex labor, mainstream media, have sex laborer individuals as their target. Transexuals are presented as dangerous people who spread terror. This presentation triggers transfobia in society.

To express the transfobia of judgement; Niran’s experience is an example. Niran is invited to police station to speak about an issue. Someone ‘diagnoses’ Niran from her photograph in police station and causes her to go to prison. She is judged from six different court cases but during the trial five of them abates because of ‘No, she is not that person’ depositions. In the last court case, Niran is tried for 12 year jail sentence just because her transexuality although two people made contradictional statements and in the last court the plaintiff avowed that ‘she is not that person’. The process which began with unfair photograph diagnosis in police station, leds to 12year jail sentence by the transfobia of the judgement. And sex laborers bog down because of alcohol and drugs to put up with that process. It indicates the tragic and threatening point that they try to overcome the trauma they lived by only this way. It is obvious what kind of results would come out after. In the future, such like today, happenings would be presented as ‘terror of transvestite’ by mainstream media as if the process which I have told had never happened.

“We Must Act Together Against Commodification and Legitimization!”

The final issue about organization on sex labor that I would like to highlight is that; sex labor should be approached not only from the view of women but also it should be dealt from the side of homosexuals, heterosexual men and transexuals. All the sex laborers, whatever their sexual identity and sexual orientation is, live under the pressure and violence of the same heterosexist patriarcal institutions. And this pressure and violence is being legitimized through other social institutions like media and judge. It is much more threatening that some feminist groups disregard sex laborers in struggle and some workingmen groups sanctify the word ‘labor’ and refuse to use near ‘sex’.

When sex labor is the subject matter, the claim that human body is being commodified is very widespread. Whereas, capitalism commodifies human body in every part of human life. On the one hand moralist approaches believe that sex laborers deserve the violence they live and they are abandoned to their fate. On the other hand, it has never been determined what the morality is. There have always been a frame of morality which differs from one to another in our lives. For instance, the body of a laborer who works in a factory or the body of a housewife is also being expolited. The violence which leds to crimes of hatred is intended for sex laborers but it does not mean that it can be ignored. I invite all the laborer organizations working in right essence to realize the violence and to take part in our struggle and I also invite them to the meeting Red Umbrella Sex Laborers Collaboration (Kırmızı Şemsiye Sex İşçileri Ağı) which eventuated by the organization of Pembe Hayat last year and which will be held on 1-3 March this year.

You can access to information on meeting from the web address:


From Amargi- Issue 12

Share Button