Social awareness project for transsexual people
Pride Week has passed, and once again, we are faced with efforts to increase awareness about queer and transgender culture. It is possible to see many projects during and before the Pride Week in Istanbul, questioning if we are aware of the stories, memories and pain of transsexual people seeking to raise awareness about this issue.
One of the most important social awareness projects in Istanbul, the Trans Guest* House, was presented between June 18 and 22 with a photography exhibition, stories and memories of trans women and men’s lives.
The project is directed by Kübra Uzun and has three components: A photo book titled “Guest*House,” a video titled “Once Upon A Time” and the exhibition titled “1+1: We are strong together!
The photo book “Guest*House,” supported by the Consulate General of the Netherlands Istanbul, is introducing photos taken by Ömer Tevfik Erten at the Trans Guesthouse.
The guesthouse was opened by the Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association in 2013 for trans individuals who have no place to stay and were subjected to violence. The book includes a magical realist story titled “Unravelling a Riddle” written by Dutch-Turkish writer Defne Çizakça, in the memory of Hande Kader, the transgender woman activist whose burnt body was found in the woods near Istanbul.
Photographer Erten said they started this project in 2014. “I thought how can I support this institution, and I believed that my photos can help to raise awareness about how trans people lived in Trans Guesthouse. The book consists of different photos from 2013 to 2018.”
Erten has pursued his project without any financial aid, and now he says this project is his pride.
For Erten art is not different than activism. These two go hand in hand, he said. In recent years, we have seen many different projects in the art world reflecting the importance of queer culture, he added.
Çizakça, whose story "Unraveling a Riddle" focuses on a Syrian, trans refugee, emphasized how this project created a multi-layered narrative about trans lives in Istanbul.
‘‘We wanted to unite literary and photographic mediums to reach more people and to create wider awareness,’’ she added. What we aim to do is eradicate prejudice," she said.