Those who are different have rights as well

Those who are different have rights as well

Ece Dalaman is a 50-year-old transsexual woman. She was born in Germany and had to run away from home when she was 14 years old because of the pressures she experienced at home due to her sexual orientation.

When she came to Turkey, things did not work out as she hoped. She had twice the pressure while she was here. She underwent a gender-change surgery hoping to have a better life. But that also resulted in disappointment. She looked for a job for a long time but because nobody hired her due to her sexual orientation, so she had to resort to earning money in exchange for sex. 

She also tried her chances in the health sector. After obtaining a health staff certificate, she looked for a job in the health sector but could not find one.

In 2014, she had a traffic accident and was 70 percent handicapped. She could not walk after the accident; her friends in the “We will Stop Women Murders Platform” bought her a wheelchair. Thanks to the wheelchair, Ece became a mobile street vendor. Even though her life became a little bit better, she is still in a tough struggle. 

She wishes to buy a small shop. She lives alone in Istanbul’s Feriköy, trying to survive alone. She has difficulty paying her rent; she does not want to move because she has been living there for more than 30 years. 

Feminist activist and writer Dilara Gürcü launched a support campaign on Indiegogo to collect a year’s rent for Ece. In 25 days, with the support of about 100 people, they are almost there. 

Ece wants to do it herself, but under Turkey’s circumstances, this is impossible. 

A survey conducted last year showed that trans women have several problems in access to justice and health rights, also in education and working life. 

The troubles they face in reaching economic rights, just like in Ece’s situation, force them to become sex workers. It is very difficult for them to find jobs, even if they do, their trans personalities cause negative attitudes. Laws do not protect them. As one of them said, “While even ordinary women have difficulty finding jobs in this country, it is much more difficult for a trans woman who starts life behind the start line.” 

Some of them are sex workers to save money and set up a small business, or to buy a house. Those who are able to find a job are asked to be “invisible.” 

A trans woman, for instance, was working at a store, first at the counter. Then she was asked to move to the child clothes department, then to the cashier position. Then she was moved from the cashier position also and back to the women’s department. Then they wanted to have her at the depot. After two months, it was enough for her. She said there was a handicapped man in the store who also worked at the depot. She said, “Companies are hiring handicapped people, but you know what they do? They make them invisible; put them in places where nobody could see them.” 

Regardless of the majority not accepting this fact, there are trans individuals in this society. They have a right to live, work and survive as any other person. To neglect them, to discriminate them or to have hate speech against them are open violations of human rights. 

Ece Dalaman said, “I have never been deterred in my life up to now, I will not; because in this country those who are different can also live.” 
Of course she is right.