15/02/2023 | Writer: Yıldız Tar

She had not been admitted to women’s shelters due to the unconformity between her gender identity and the gender on her ID card. She had been exposed to ill-treatment at homeless centers. And hospitals had done nothing for her more than hospitalizing her for only one day and leaving her back to the street.

A homeless trans woman was found dead in İstanbul Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Deniz was a 45-year-old trans woman who had to live on the street in Cihangir, İstanbul. She had been on the street for almost five years and was sleeping on the street on pavements or between the buildings because she had nowhere to go.

Sensitive neighborhood habitants did their best to support Deniz and to resolve her housing problem. However Deniz’s health condition was downhill all the way and she was found dead on the street on Saturday (February 11). The police came and took Deniz away. What is left of Deniz is the aching heart of neighborhood habitants, who tried to help her, and the anger to the state system which doesn’t work.

Seda Yılmaz, one of the neighborhood residents, told Deniz and her experiences to KaosGL.org. Stating that they had begun to see Deniz in their neighborhood since summer, they had tried to talk to her and tried to help her for resolving the problems, Yılmaz told the happenings as follows:

“They don’t want me because I’m a transvestite”

“After a while, she started having health problems. I began talking more often. I want to emphasize how political it was rather than a sorrowful and tragic event. We are sorry because we could not do anything with the neighbors here. I mean we could not do anything since it was beyond us. It had to be resolved by the state and its institutions. In our last conversation, she said, ‘They don’t want me because I’m a transvestite.’

I made a call for it on Twitter. I didn’t know exactly what to do. I contacted the social services of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Someone from the social service called back. They were closely associated with us, they even asked the name she preferred to be addressed. They came here however she was not admitted to the women’s shelters because her gender identity and the gender written on the ID didn’t match. Rightfully she didn’t want to go to homeless shelters, where men can also go, because she was exposed to ill-treatment there before.”

There is a system-based problem

Yılmaz also underlined that there was a solemn system-based problem and emphasized that all efforts remained inconclusive: “They are coming from social services and trying to generate a solution however the process turns into a chicken and egg situation because of the system. One of our neighbors also called the Ministry of Family, social services and etc.”

Stated that one of their neighbors tried to book a place at a hotel during the cold days however she was not allowed into hotels due to being a trans woman and homeless and remarking that they could find no way out Yılmaz said: “We, all of us around, tried to do something but we could not find a permanent solution.”

“We could not fit a person in a city”

Emphasizing that there was a scene at which some people couldn’t stand even to look Yılmaz stated her sorrow as follows:

“I am so sorry because we could not fit a person in Beyoğlu, in the center of İstanbul, I mean in a city. We could find no way out. No solution was generated about sheltering. Learning from Deniz’s experience, municipalities and LGBTI+ associations should work together to provide at least sheltering support in case of emergency. If the trans guesthouse had not been closed, she might have gone there. Indeed, sheltering is a solemn and vital issue for us right now. We experienced a devastating earthquake just a week ago and realized the importance of sheltering again. However, it is a vital and far greater issue for disadvantaged people.”

Deniz also had various health problems due to living on the streets. Stating that Deniz had lost a visible weight and she had to walk on all fours recently, Yılmaz talked about the lack of attention at the hospitals:

“No one deserves such a life and such an end”

“She went to hospitals many times. We called an ambulance and made her go to the hospital. They were always bringing her back the day after. She was hospitalized only for one day. However, maybe she needed to be hospitalized for weeks to recover. She wasn’t able to walk because of the cold weather and the conditions on the street, she could not step on the ground. She sometimes had to walk on all fours. She said that she had problems with her bones. Following her death, I learned from the neighbors that she was diagnosed as a patient with renal failure when she was hospitalized for the last time. Although they mentioned that she had no power to stand even for a week, they pushed her out of the hospital. If they had kept her in the hospital, at least she would have died in a hospital environment. They can let her die in pain. What are the hospitals for, if they don’t treat people?

No one deserves such a life and such an end. We were able to do something primitive and surely limited. However, a human being needs much more than this. We realized the dysfunctionality of all institutions of the state regarding the issue. She was deprived of even a hot and safe place.

She was found dead where she slept on Saturday. This scene is the work of this system. I want none LGBTI+ to be subjected to such an experience again. This would be the most appropriate thing to do afterward. …”

Translation: Selma Koçak 

Tags: human rights, women