Transphobic Arson in Istanbul: A Trans Woman’s House Burnt Down

Translation of original Bianet article in Turkish by Çiçek TAHAOĞLU on 24 September 2013 []

A trans woman’s house was burned Istanbul. In a former threat letter, the arsonist had used expressions such as “Our neighbors who were born as men and became women” , “we will not stand to lose our chastity and honor to illicit gain.”

A trans woman’s house in Fulya, Istanbul was burnt down after a threat letter was left on her window by the arsonist.

Saying what she suffered was a transphobic attack, Çağla [the victim], filed a criminal complaint against the person who wrote the threat letter and burned her house.

Threatening with “chastity” and “honor”

Çağla had found a letter taped on her window on August, 23. The hand written and signed letter opens with the following words: “To our neighbors who were born as men and became women.”

The letter also contains the below statements:

“Of course this neighborliness cannot continue. Unfortunately the security apparatus is unable to do anything to you. If there is no law enforcement, the enforcement shall be brought upon by myself.”

“We shall not stand to lose our chastity and honor to illicit gain. I give you one week. You will move out of this house. If you don’t move, your house will burn. You will be home while your house burns.”

The neighborhood is not homophobic”

Weeks after receiving the letter, on September 13, Çağla found our that her house was set on fire while she was away.

In her statement to bianet, Çağla said that she lived in a neighborhood with many transgender residents, that they have never met such aggressive attitudes there before, and that because of this she didn’t believe the house would actually be burned down when she first got the letter:

“Transgender individuals have been living in this apartment for the past 10 years. The owner of the house has no problems with this. There are transgender folk living in at least 20-25 houses in the neighborhood. But the neighborhood is not homophobic. We shop at the local stores, go to the hair salons. There are no problems. This here is our ghetto.

“So I first didn’t take the letter seriously. I didn’t think something like this was possible in the middle of Istanbul. But someone I don’t even know has burnt down my home.

“Our neighbors were very upset about what happened to me. My landlord is a very nice person too but was terrified when the house was burned. Right now I am basically stranded on the street. All my trans friends are worried.”

The letter of threat is hand-written and signed by a “Hakan Payret, of Beşiktaş Çarşı Group” [Çarşı is a very important and politicized soccer fan group that played a pivotal part in Gezi Park protests.] Çağla doesn’t know if this is a real name or not. Her neighbors do not know anyone that goes by the name Hakan Payret. But she thinks the Çarşı bit in the letter was faked to intimidate:

“The Çarşı group was in the barricades with the LGBT in Gezi. I have very dear friends from Çarşı, I have been living in Beşiktaş [where Çarşı is based] for years. I think they are trying to intimidate me by using the group’s name. ”


translated by yesari mütercim mundar hanımbey a.k.a. @TypingAnimal

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