The ordeal of a hermaphrodite in Turkey

The ordeal of a hermaphrodite in Turkey

Gülden Aydın ISTANBUL
The ordeal of a hermaphrodite in Turkey

‘Heavy penalties needed to those who humiliate hermaphrodites,’ Coşkun (R) says.

A hermaphrodite individual has spoken out about the lack of acceptance in Turkey of people who were born with both male and female sexual attributes, as well as the social pressure they face to choose genders.

Bülent Coşkun, 34, a hermaphrodite living in Istanbul, spoke about the daily social humiliation faced by hermaphrodites, in an interview with daily Hürriyet. Facing household attacks and constant social pressure, Coşkun’s life is emblematic of the difficulties faced by others who live with two genders.

“The state of having two genders should be taught at public schools. The Directorate of Religious Affairs should give sermons. The state should issue a freedom law and give heavy penalties to those who humiliate hermaphrodites,” Coşkun told Hürriyet.

The child of farmers living in the rural western province of Düzce, Coşkun’s father was determined to have a boy after having two girls. He forced Coşkun to undergo six heavy operations 14 years ago to close the female reproductive organs. The medical intervention failed and when the doctor said eight other operations would be necessary, Coşkun refused to continue. The surgery mistakes had made Coşkun’s life even more difficult until new medical interventions two years ago.

“I came back home and told my family ‘Look what you did to me.’ I fell into depression. I fled home and came to Istanbul, found a doctor who I told everything to. He cured me. I brought my father to him. They talked in private and that day my father understood me,” Coşkun said.

‘In peace with both genders’

Coşkun regained the female reproductive organs after recently undergoing three operations. The doctor who conducted the surgery even proposed a sex change to become a woman, but Coşkun said no. “I told him that I had no doubts about my feminity, but I am at peace with my masculinity. So I refused,” Coşkun said.

Coşkun does not work after receiving a disability report, and added that many questions remained unsolved for hermaphrodites. “I want to go on the Umra [religious pilgrimage], but will I cover my head as a woman, or go without a veil like a man?” Coşkun said.