Category Archives: Turkey

Istanbul Trans Pride (VIDEO + Photos!)

Video of Istanbul’s First Trans Pride!

(So sorry if you are trying to view this video from Turkey, unless you have figured out a way around the YouTube block!)

AND New images of the pride are on our WWP Blog:

Istanbul Trans Pride 
(Istanbul’s First Trans Pride)


Istanbul’s First Trans Pride!

Not silent, but on the street

Not hiding, but organized

We are walking against hate!

Istanbul Turkey Trans Pride

Trans pride took over Istiklal Street in Istanbul.  Held jointly by the organizations Istanbul LGBTT, Women’s Door, and the political group EHP, almost 500 people turned out to support transgender pride.  I admit I was very happily surprised by the turnout, and the positive reactions from bystanders the march received.

The afternoon of the pride, Chad and I arrived in the lilac headquarters of Istanbul LGBTT.  Many of the girls were getting their outfits ready.  While some were dressed up, many others wore more ordinarily dressed, but wearing pride symbols.  The room quickly began to get crowded as more people and a camera crew showed up.  It was stuffy and crowded, but at the same time everyone seemed excited for the march.  Soon those who were ready started heading to the Pride meeting point.

Getting Ready for Trans Pride in Istanbul Turkey

We left the apartment with 10 or so others – and it was like a mini pride had begun.  What I love about this group is that they do nothing softly.  Waving flags and beating drums, they walked proudly down the small little side streets toward the gathering spot, as people in outside cafes looked, and with some also clapping in support.

The meeting point for the Trans Pride march was on the far end of Istiklal Street.  A huge 20m rainbow flag was unrolled, as bystanders stood around watching.  Soon, the number of people in the square started swelling as more people stopped to look, and more participants of the Pride started showing up.

Rainbow Flat at Istanbul Turkey Trans Pride

Being a Sunday, Istiklal Street – a pedestrian only shopping street – was extremely crowded.  With drums beating the march began.  There was no DJ or artificial music, but instead megaphones were used to lead marchers in chants.  At several points those with the speakers yelled that those against homophobia should sit down, in which everyone participating took a seat.  A group of traditional Turkish street musicians joined the pride at one point, and near the finish some people started dancing.  Finally, at the end of the march people got up and spoke to highlights the issues and problems the Trans community faces, especially the increasing amount of hate crimes and the terrible state of lack of discrimination legislation that had prompted this march.

Trans Pride Istanbul Turkey

While the march did receive an open minded reception from the majority of people, the original trans-phobic causes for having the march should not be forgotten.   Being a witness to this first ever Turkey Trans Pride was truly exciting, and I sincerely hope they have succeeded in drawing more attention to their cause, and solidarity among more people from the ‘voting’ public.

Promoting Trans Pride in Turkey

Held on Thursday afternoon, in the headquarters of Istanbul LGBTT, no press turned up for the press conference to hear the details concerning Turkey’s first Trans Pride.

empty chairs during Trans pride press conference
Despite the media’s absence, the press conference is still held – but with a German film maker, Maria, who is also documenting the group recording it.  Members of the Trans community get up and speak about the reasons for having this march, and its importance.  Some of the main issues the group hopes to draw attention to with Sunday’s demonstration are the escalating levels of violence toward the Trans community, and the lack of anti-sexual/gender discrimination laws in their constitution.

Later in the day we go out with the group as they hang fliers and leaflets to promote Trans Pride week.  A lot of the bystanders who watch them seem generally curious about what they are promoting.

Hanging leaflets to promote Trans Pride in Turkey

After spending an hour walking the streets and side streets of the trendy Bosphorus district of Istanbul an informational stand is erected on Istiklal Street, a major shopping area lined with luxury stores and sidewalk cafes.

This area of Istanbul is very metropolitan, and I’m again surprised how open people are very open to receiving the information leaflets about Sunday’s march, with many also signing their name to the group’s email list.

Trans Pride in Turkey

Dear Sarah
Where to find those doggies? so so cute!!
We had two days off for outside meeting, and had fun this week, a little bit tired now.
One interesting thing I would like to tell you, I went to Jay Chou’s concert yesterday at Taipei Arena. It was the first time for me to step in the dome even my office is opposited to that!!
The music and the performance is so so great!! we was screaming with excitement all night!! really a good memory for me!!
This week, Ive learned several words:
1) squint: sample is “He squinted through the telescope.
2) confide in (I learned that from lyrics)
3) nasty means evil? or could be used to describe “tough” (just like base ball players)
4) pluck sample is “I plucked a flower from the garden”
5) drowsy (is that common?) real meaning is?
6) guardian (what kind of situation you might use the word?)
7) could we say”little heart”? I heart that from one friend…but I just wondered if it is correct.
8) tie down (learned it from lyrics) 

also, I had my hair cut, quite cute, but Im tired tonight and not appropriate to take the photo 😛

So tired tonight!!
Hope you still keep ejnoying your delightful traveling time.
Talk to you next week^^

your cute and “nasty” student

Istanbul Trans Pride 2010

Here’s the press release for Istanbul’s first Trans Pride:


To the press and public,

Trans-pride week will be held in Turkey for the first time this weekend from June 11-13.  Organized by the Trans-rights groups Istanbul LGBTT, Women’s Door, EHP’s LGBTT the event is drawing attention to discrimination and human rights violations against the Turkish Trans community.  In the past year, violence towards transvestites and transgenders has been escalating considerably.  As there is no anti-discrimination legislation that allows these actions to be classified as hate crimes, we are pressuring the government to alter the law and see these actions as hate crimes based on gender identity.

The Minister of State has classified members of the LGBT community as ‘mentally sick.’  The fact that the state has made these statements has only fueled hate crimes, oppression and discrimination against LGBT people.  In Istanbul, just last Saturday, a transgender woman was beaten by 5 men, the month before another woman was killed, and it is the same story in Turkey’s other major cities of Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Denizli, and others.  It is a further crime that the people who have killed and hurt members of the transgender community have received mitigated sentences.  When transgender activists from Pink Life in Ankara tried protesting these actions on the International Day Against Homophobia, they were attacked.

Trans Week is being held to call on members of the LGBT community to stand up in solidarity against this violence, and a government that doesn’t even see these actions as hate crimes.  In a unified voice from June 10 – June 13, 2010 we are reaching out to the Turkish public and members of the International community, so others might be just as outraged by this situation.

Organizations that are supporting this first ever Trans Pride include Istanbul LGBT Civil Society Initiative, the Workers’ Movement Party of LGBTs, Women’s Door Foundation, Lambda Istanbul LGBT Solidarity Association, Pink Life LGBT Association, Voltrans Trans Male Initiative, Cukurova Gay Initiative, Socialist Women’s Assembly, Green Party, and Revolutionary Anarchist Action.

Trans pride week 2010 (10-13 June) Event Schedule

Thursday June 10 – Opening:
13:00 hrs: Press Conference
Location: Istanbul LGBT Civil Society Initiative – Martyrs Muhtar Mah. Citations Yilmaz Cad. Sok ground. No: 18 / 4 Beyoğlu (Back Aga)

19.00 hrs: Street Festival
Location: Galatasaray Square
With the participation of music groups

June 11 Friday – 2 Day:
15.00 hrs: Panel discussion (topics below)
Location: On Stage – Gate Olivya Olivya Han Kat: 4 Galatasaray (Opposite St. Anthony Church, Barcelona Patisserie later)

Concepts – violence
Moderator: Action Contemporary
LGBT Policy Concepts: Hilmi Kaan
Workshop – Gender Roles: Elif Karan
Lesbians: Yılmaz Büşra
Gay: Alpine Uniqueness
Bisexual: Okan Aksu
Transgender Men: İlksen Gursoy
Trans Women: Ian Dickinson

19.00: Short Film Screenings
Location: Green House – Istiklal Cad. Balo Sok. No: 21 / 1 Beyoglu – Istanbul

Trans X – Documentaries – 9 ‘- Director: Maria Binder
380-780 – Short Film – 12 ‘- Director: Sakir Arslan
No Dumb Questions – Documentary – 24 ‘- Director: Melissa Regan

June 12th Saturday – 3 Day:
15.00: Panel Discussion (topics below)
Location: On Stage – Gate Olivya Olivya Han Kat: 4 Galatasaray (Opposite St. Anthony Church, Barcelona Patisserie later)

Right to life
Organization and Employment: Elif Karan (LGBTs Workers Movement Party)
Adult LGBTs: Ebru Kiran pressure (Istanbul LGBT Civil Society Initiative)
Health: Mukhtar Coker (Human Resource Development Foundation)
Mandatory Evacuation in Golden Urban Renewal Name: Elevated Selectin (Green Party)
Korhan Silver (Association for Human Settlements)
Sex Labour: Shawwal Sword (Women’s Gate)

19.00: Theater
Location: Istanbul Bilgi University Campus Kuştepe
‘Ali Cengiz Game’ – Eskisehir other Kültürevi Gender Studies Workshop

June 13, 2010 – Closing:
13:00: Brunch
Location: Green House – Istiklal Cad. Balo Sok. No: 21 / 1 Beyoglu – Istanbul

Walking is great Trans Honor
Location: Taksim Tram Station – Tunel Square
16:30 hrs: Ülker Street meeting – ‘Our brothers are dying for’ memorial
17.00: Taksim tram stop and walk at the meeting

Istanbul Trans Pride 2010 Trans Onur Haftasi

“Not silent, but on the street

Not hiding, but organized

We are walking against hate!”

Turkey’s Transsexual Community: A Day in the Life …

We meet Sevval again the next morning at her morning job with Women’s Door – it’s a developement foundation that helps those in the sex industry with medical and legal aid.  The young lady we saw at the LGBTT headquarters with the bruised face drops by the office, and Sevval translates her story.

Transsexual assult in Instanbul turkey

On June 5, this young woman was working on a street when 5 young guys approached her and began insulting her, when she told them to go away and stop bothering her, they attacked.  She almost reached the entrance of a shop to escape, but they dragged her back and started beating her.  When the police arrived they were not sympathetic, pulling her up by the hair and implying she deserved it.  Two of these young men were under 18.  Today Sevval is using a camcorder to record an interview with her, while Chad takes some pictures that she can provide her lawyer.

There are not many employment options for most transsexuals in Turkey, resulting in nearly all currently working or having worked in the sex industry.  While it is never easy to ‘come out’ for those in the lesbian and gay community, it is not uncommon for post-op transsexuals to find themselves almost completely without options for work.  This has a lot to do with the country’s constitution, which has no anti-sexual discrimination laws.  It is also a key issue that the Istanbul LGBTT group is trying to draw public attention too.

Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Turkey

Turkey LGBT Rights:

Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes

Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No

Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No

Same-sex Adoption Allowed? No
◊ Neither joint nor second parent adoption is available to same-sex couples in Turkey.

Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? No, they are banned from military service

Anti-discrimination Laws? None

Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? Not much

◊ Lack of anti-discrimination legislation is particularly harmful when it comes to employment as most transgender people in Turkey are prevented from finding traditional work.

Cultural Points of Interest:
The Turkish government regularly tries to harass and close LGBT focused organizations. This behavior has come to the attention of the European Union, which in their annual progress report they said these issues should be resolved.

Over 45 members of the LGBT community have been murdered in the past 3 years due to hate crimes.


Istanbul LGBTT – An grass roots human rights organization in Istanbul that focuses on the needs of the local transsexual community.

Lambda Istanbul – LGBT organization operating in Istanbul, and who hosts the yearly pride parades.

Kaos GL – Ankara rights group, also includes history on their website of Turkey LGBT history

Meeting Up With Turkey’s Transgender Community

Istanbul, Turkey – a city of over 2,500 mosques, is the next stop for the “Walk with Pride” project.

While the city’s major Gay Pride parade will be taking place later this month, Chad and I are here to document the struggles of the local transgender community as they get ready for Turkey’s first Trans Pride.  The group hosting the pride is Istanbul LGBTT.   Started in 2007 by a group of 15 trans-rights activists, this independent grass roots group was formed to focus on the needs of the local transgender community, an at risk group that has been experiencing increasing amounts of hate crimes.

Stepping into Istanbul LGBTT headquarters, gives one the feeling of walking into a home, not an office.  Occupying a single room in an apartment building, it has a relaxed feel.  The walls are painted a soft purple and stuck with health information posters, a pink refrigerator is situated in one corner next to a place for making tea, and wide windows along the far wall fill the room with natural light.  The room is full of 6 or so people from the Trans community, dressed mostly in jeans and t-shirts, they are chatting, drinking tea – and in general hanging out in a space where they clearly feel comfortable.  Despite their casual attitudes, it’s noticeable that one of the women must have been recently attacked, as she is still sporting a black eye and bruises on her face.

Sevval greets us when we enter.  She is a social worker for the Women’s Door HR development foundation, an activist for Istanbul LGBTT, and a childhood friend of Demet.  As one of the organizers, or as she refers to it ‘mother,’ for Saturday’s transsexual pride march, Sevval tells us more about the current situation…

Sevval at Istanbul LGBTT headquarters, Turkey

Sevval (left) speaking with one of the managers for Women's Door

As transsexuals, she says, we don’t worry about visibility, we are very visible – and that can lead to problems here.  Since 2008, at least 8 transsexual persons have been killed.  At this moment we are having this march not as much for a party, but to draw attention to this cause, “we want them not to kill us.”

This violence has also started to raise concerns in the international LGBT community.  A representative form IGLHRC, Hossein Alizadeh, recently expressed “All citizens of Turkey, including transgender citizens, are entitled to live without fear of murder or persecution,” said Hossein Alizadeh, coordinator of IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa program. “The homophobic killings need to stop, and for this we need the Turkish government to take concrete action to protect transgender people.”  According to a Demir, the increase in violence has roots in a “rise in nationalism, Islamic values, poverty, and unemployment in the past seven or eight years”.

(Read tomorrow as we continue our focus on Istanbul’s transsexual community, and the lead up to the country’s first Trans Pride march)

For more details on Istanbul’s First Trans Pride: June 10 – 12, 2010

Istanbul – LGBTT

Trans Pride 2010