26/02/2018 | Writer: Janset Kalan
I turned 31 a couple of days ago. I still fear leaving my home. I fear of being a homeless.
I wrote this following a post of a friend in Facebook. My friend was born with a penis just like me. And just like me, he is not a man. Though, they presented their life experience as a person who has benefited from male privileges with a comparison to the life experience of their sister. Following this presentation, they reasoned why 8 March is not their space of action. I genuinely liked their post. I wished that everyone was as reasonable as them.
Hold on, now! I should write some other story here to be noted. As you know, 8 March has always been a problematic space of action when it comes to trans inclusion. It still might be in some areas.
I was born and they appointed me a male gender due to my penis and testicles. My sister was born 15 months before me and they appointed her a female gender due to her vagina and ovaries. My brother was born 2,5 years after me and at first we thought he was a ball of fur but then we noticed he was a male human child.
We grew up as peers with my sister. I wore her clothes and she wore my clothes in exchange order. We used to sneak around and grab our little brother’s formula to hide and eat it under the table or kitchen stall. My sister was not able to belly dance, she did not have a good body synchronization. I, on the other hand, used to grab a large skirt and belly dance with enthusiasm whenever we had guests at home. We were both very much interested in kitchen and cooking starting from early ages. Our mother used to treat all 3 of us equally when it came to houseworks. She taught all three of us how to cook, clean, tidy our beds, wash the dishes, etc. There was a fair distribution of responsibilities at home and everyone completed their duties this or that way. Our mother was an authoriatian woman, when she asked for something to happen, it would happen. My brother, my sister and I, we all went out to the market for shopping in turns. We walked around the shopping streets together with our mother. We stayed at home and cooked, ironed and cleaned.
When my brother started to go to school, he grew up to be more uncontrollable, he learnt how to be a man and he declared that he would do outside works rather than house works. He was going to be responsible of external affairs, so to speak. He walked around in the garden with enthusiasm trying to fix things with either a shovel or a pickaxe or a hammer in his hand. He went to the supermarket and the grocery store. Did he not continue helping with houseworks such as; cooking, dishes, cleaning and ironing? He did but in a lesser degree.
My sister started school a year earlier than me. She was happy at her pre-school class. She went to a different school for a month for the first class and her teacher was an evil woman. Once our mother noticed that the teacher was an abusing and violent woman, our mother protested with the school administration and transferred my sister to her original school where we as 3 siblings all completed our elementary and middle education. My sister’s new teacher was a little bit “lazy” woman. All she cared was eating, drinking and walking around with a very slow attitude. My sister, on the other hand, was a little bit crazy. She would get mad very easily (she still is). She would curse, get into fights, and order others.
She grew up and started high-school. Her school was one-hour drive from our house and she had a full day class there. Sometimes, she was breaking the rules and skipping the school to go to a billiards saloon with her friends or to shopping malls or for house gatherings. She had a large entourage and many friends. Once, a boy asked her out on a date she cried at first, then got mad and kicked his ass. In the later years, there was a boy she was seeing and she punched him in the face because he cursed our father. In the last year of the school, one day she was not feeling well and asked administration to excuse her home. She grabbed the note from the vice headmaster and presented it to the teacher who was on duty for gate monitoring. The teacher did not permit her and started to insult my sister, and got violent no reason whatsoever. Would our girl stand for it? Of course not! She got mad and beat the hell out of this teacher. She came home, dropped her bag and jacket, walked towards our mother and said “Mum, I beat a teacher today and I was right, they might call you to school tomorrow so I wanted to inform you about it”. Afterwards, she explained the situation and the next day our mother and father went to the school administration. The administration apologized from my sister and got this teacher suspended for a week.
Both my siblings would not let anyone call me names such as; “faggot”, “sissy”, etc. We as 3 siblings would look after each other but we would fight a lot among each other, too. I remember many incidents where my sister and I grabbed each other’s’ hairs until one of us gave up. It was usually the time when my mother intervened and stopped us that we would give up. We were both very stubborn.
Let’s come to my story now. I was very young and nobody ever told me that I was a boy. They would try to bribe me so I could curse. I never did. They would call me weird. “Oh, this kid has a big head, he will probably become something when he grows up” they would keep telling me mocking the size of my head. My father detested me wearing skirts but my mother never said a word about it. I would listen to the stories my mother told me sleeping next to her. It was a routine of my mother to sing made-up songs for her children with lyrics like “your mother should eat your bum”, “your mother should die on your behalf”, etc. She was a person who showed her love all the time in different occasions. My father was working night shift when we were little. He used to sleep during the day and when he woke up, he tried to make up for the time lost with us. It was either half hour or an hour of playtime with dad. He was an ex-boxer so he used to try to teach us how to punch properly. He tried to teach us volleyball and how to stand on our hands upside down. My sister was quite successful in each. My brother was small but doing ok. I was never successful. I was a chubby kid and I cared too much for my skin back then. I couldn’t manage to do any of those things so why would my dad care for me? He was trying to teach and I was not learning. Perhaps that is why he decided to spend more time with my other siblings. I was always watching from the other room. I liked my mother better, anyways. I said that my mother could teach me. She was more patient with me, encouraging me without rushing any moves. She never forced me to learn those things or she never insulted me (as my father did) when I couldn’t manage to do the moves right.
Time passes by and I started pre-school when I was 4 years old. It was the first time for me to notice that none of the boys were talking to me. I was excluded. I didn’t care because I never thought that I was supposed to be their friend. Then I started elementary school. I was in love with my teacher. I wanted to be her top student and I wanted her to love me best all the time. I was very jealous when she praised any other student in the class. I was the smallest kid in the whole elementary school. I was chubby and very small and walking down the school hall. There were many seniors coming from middle school section to pet me and play with me. I always felt very uncomfortable, embarrassed and stressful. I never could use school toilets. All my friends were using the girls’ bathroom and I wasn’t allowed. I was scared of the boys’ bathroom. It was always such a fuss for me to go out and play. I was scared of playing outside and then again they never let me play outside either. I used to play at our garden. I liked playing house. I liked administering the game.
I was in the third grade when they first call me “faggot”. I ran home and asked my parents what it meant. My father got really angry with me and my mother got mad at those who called me “faggot”. I did not understand their reaction at all. I just pulled back, got scared and felt worried. I just understood that it was a bad thing. Then at fourth grade, a groups of boy students grabbed my arms and legs to force me into the boys’ bathroom. I screamed as loud as I could. I cried a lot. My teacher arrived and got mad at me. It was the first time anyone told me “what kind of a boy are you crying over this”. What kind of a boy I was? I was upset, scared and worried.
When I was in the middle school, there were two boy students sitting behind my row and harassing me continuously every day for two years. They felt me during the class, blow in my ear and neck. They mocked me and insulted me during the breaks. Nobody intervened. I was sexually harassed by two of my classmates all the time for two years. I hated gym class because I had to undress among all those boys. They touched me and mocked me all the time. The school was a torture for me and I wished I died.
I started high school and found people like me. It was the first time I tasted grouping and getting backed up by friends. Then again, every morning on the way to the school, it was 45 minutes bus ride of hell. There was always some guy sitting next to me with their morning erections touching my legs or ass. On the way back home it was an hour bus drive and there was always some men standing behind me groping with their stiff cocks up my crack.
I started to discover my sexual urges. I used to run away from home late at night to cruise in the parks or under bridges to find someone to give a blowjob. I didn’t know what I was or how my sexual urges were called. It was just such an adrenaline for me. Once a man grabbed my throat and choked me and beat the hell out of me. Next morning, I wasn’t able to explain my parents what all those bruises were or how those finger prints on my neck happened. I was only 14 years old.
I turned 16 and moved to Istanbul for university education. They placed me into a state dormitory. I didn’t know anyone in this huge city. I had a budget of nothing. I didn’t know where to go or how to find my way in this enormous city. I was all alone in a gaia hole. I don’t want to talk about all the harassment, violence, insult and exclusion I experienced there.
I started to discover myself growing up. I learnt what is what. I lived things. I tried to defend myself. However, I also suffered. I was homeless for 6 months in Istanbul. I slept at train stations for days and the next morning I was at the class trying to learn. I sought asylum next to a gay friend in Tarlabasi in Taksim area. It was a ghetto place where drug dealers, sex workers and refugees lived back then. One night, I ran away from there at the last moment when I was about to be raped while sleeping. I continued sleeping over here and there for 6 months.
I studied and studied a lot. I thought I had to be successful. Maybe then people would respect me a little. It never happened. I turned back to my hometown, Adana. First, I took care of my god-mother Elmas when she had dementia. I changed her diaper, bathed her, fed her for 5 months before she passed away. I cried because of her a lot, I got mad at her a lot and I loved her a lot. Few years later, my mother got sick. She got an operation and never recovered. It was 3 months I changed her diaper, bathed her and tried to feed her, and watch her die slowly each day. (so did my siblings.)
I started being visible with my activism. I was an activist before but not in an organization. I received threats. One Ramadan night I got beaten up by 8 young men. I was followed in the Street returning home. They threw stones, etc. behind my back during day light. I got attacked in a public transportation. They refused me to enter a restaurant. They returned me from a night club gate because I didn’t “pass as...”. Two cars stopped next to me and tried to kidnap me while I was waiting for a friend in the Street.
I grew up to become a prostitute. I learnt prostituting. I witnessed how people tried to degrade me because I am a sex worker.
I turned 31 a couple of days ago. I still fear leaving my home. I fear of being a homeless. I fear of getting kicked out of my apartment and left penniless. I think of the probability of getting murdered each time. But I still continue living my life. I continue struggling against all odds, everyone, and against myself.
I don’t know how much of these my brother or my sister ever experienced. The part that I could witness was the ones that I told here. They would probably tell you another story with further details. I don’t know.
8 March space is my space of action because I am a woman. And it is true that my experience just like any other women in that space is different and unique.