Turkish Activists Demand Action on Transphobic Hate Crimes

There are exceedingly few places in the world where trans people are truly safe. Turkey, then, is only one of many, many countries where trans people, usually trans women, are violently attacked and murdered at epidemic levels simply for being who they are. The abuses there, however, could be considered particularly bad — and regardless, should not be accepted anywhere.

That is why, following yet more murders, Turkish and international activists have sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey, demanding both protection of trans people and real efforts to change the social attitudes which make this violence acceptable. An excerpt from the letter appears below:

In order to end the ongoing violence and murders of transgender people in Turkey, we respectfully urge the Turkish government to take the following measures:

  • 1. Ensure an effective investigation into the murders of Fevzi Yener, Derya Y., and Sinasi Halimoglu, which will be capable of leading to the identification and prosecution of the alleged perpetrator(s) of these crimes. Ensure similar steps are taken in the event of any future crimes against the LGBT community.
  • 2. Enact anti-discrimination legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected status.
  • 3. Collect, analyze and disaggregate national and local data on violence, including violence on the grounds on sexual orientation and gender identity as a recognized category.
  • 4. Provide training to law enforcement authorities on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  1. Include sexual orientation and gender identity in school curricula as a way to combat gender stereotypes.
  • 6. Establish permanent communication mechanisms between the police and Turkish LGBT organizations.
  • 7. Revise the Law of Misdemeanors (No. 5326) that provides police the option to fine or otherwise treat individuals as criminals on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The vagueness of this law-which purports to “protect public order, general morality, general health, the environment, and the economic order”- allows for prejudicial enforcement by police.

The full English text of the letter can be found here. (Here is the Turkish version.) I highly recommend that you take a moment to go read it, for further context regarding Turkish trans folks’ situation.

I have little else to add, other than to repeat that violence against trans people is an epidemic in many parts of the world, including in the U.S., where I’m writing. The violence is not going to end until we eradicate transphobia, and transmisogyny in particular, and put to rest the idea that cissexual and cisgender identities are superior to and more “real” than transsexual and transgender identities. And that is an enormous and international task.

I found the news of this letter via Helen G at Bird of Paradox. At the bottom of her post is a long list of links to other posts she has written on trans rights (or more accurately, the lack thereof) in Turkey over the past year. I strongly encourage you to click through and view that list of links, at the very least, as a visual reminder of the magnitude of the problem, and to take the time to read some of them.

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