As I said before I was rather affected by the visit in Turkey and I felt such a gratefulness towards my wonderful friends, our health care system and my collegues at work. I think we too seldom say to people when we care for them so when I got back to Stockholm yesterday I felt the need to call one of my absolute closest friend to tell her how much she mean to me. It turned out that she was free from work on the afternoon so we decided to meet. It was so great to take a walk in the sun, admiring the beauty of Stockholm and talk about life with her. She is a very wise woman with a remarkably big heart and it is so great to be able to talk about everything with her. She has been with me the whole process and having someone like that is something I wish everybody had. So it was like lotion for the soul. It is great that those days when I feel happy and pleased with life seem to come more often lately. I hope that is a trend. We ended the evening with a nice meal and some rather intense discussions about society with a couple more of her friends. Had no trouble falling asleep in the night 🙂
Just remembered that when I was surfing around and checking my usual websites at the hotel in Ankara I suddenly got a white screen with an information that content have been blocked. Interestingly it was when I was checking the blog written by Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt. It turned out that the www.wordpress.com as a whole is blocked in Turkey. That is a significant number of web sites…
There is some more information – and being a blog – discussion about this here at the WordPress site
We met a turkish transgender person at the office of KAOS-GL who was about to give a speech later on in the afternoon about the situation for sex workers and transgendered people in Turkey. Coming from Sweden where at least transsexuals are relatively well taken care of in the health care system and also from a legal and administrative point it is really difficult to comprehend the situation in Turkey and many other countries. I know about my own issues with my body and it must awful to be forced to use that situation as the only way to earn your living. People paying money to have sex with you just because your are something strange “in-between”. Everything that transsexuals in Sweden try avoid at all costs,
Apparently it is difficult to find someplace to live as well since there have been cases where construction firms pays thugs money to keep watch in areas where transgender people live. They sit and wait in cars all day long to get a chance to harass and assault them to force them to move from the area. The transgender people, neighbours and the police knows about this but nobody does anything to stop it. However, there seem to be a court case coming up real soon where an attacker actually is charged for beating a transgender person. Hopefully that can be a start to something new. Many people are seriously hurt each year and quite a few are even killed. It seem to be worse for transgender people and butch lesbians because they always face the risk of rape from even the police. There are also examples of police and the military conducting rape on gay men just to see if they like it. Apparently only the passive part is considered a homosexual in Turkey as it is in other countries.
From an education standpoint it must also be tough to inform people about transgender issues since it is so closely related to sex workers and prostitution. I think it is already hard enough to inform here in Sweden when the knowledge in general is not widespread about transgender issues. Being forced to also bring up the debate around prostitution would make it so much more difficult let alone the attitude towards people generally being seen on the lower steps of the community ladder.
I am so grateful living in Sweden where I have my wonderful friends, great doctors in the health care system and really nice co-workers in the Armed Forces that make me look forward to go to work each day.
It seems really hard to be a transgendered in general and transsexual in particular here in Turkey. Last night our wonderful host told us about a gay club here in Ankara where transgendered people were not allowed. It was really surprised since I would have easier to understand if transgendered are not allowed in men or women-only clubs. That was the case in Sweden ten years ago but fortunately that has changed now. However, it turned out that the situation here in Turkey means that it is virtually impossible for transsexuals to get employed even if they have a university degree. Instead they are forced to work as sex workers. So this club just had a policy of not wanting sex workers to sell their services in the club and therefore denying them access. There is also a big problem of transgendered people being harrassed and beaten since some people think they have a right to kill them.
Read a little bit more about this transgendered organisation called Pink Life here in Ankara.
Today we learned that there is an article in the newspaper Hürriyet about this media training workshop and that RFSL is participating. In a news portal there is another article that even mentions me 🙂
However, we also learned that because of this media coverage several people decided not to take part in the workshop because they were worried about the attention.
A lot of reflections today about being in Turkey and Asia for the first time. Breakfast was interesting and being a little bit scared of germs I did not really know what was safe to eat. Discovered the turkish way of boiling tea with the teapot on top with really strong tea and then hot water in the samovar below. Great tea!
We started walking towards the office of the LGBT-organisation KAOS-GL and it was rather chilly. Almost felt like being in a ski resort for some strange reason. I love looking at every small detail of a new city. This time it felt a lot like East Germany or Russia. Something about the cars and the architecture I think. However, all the big brands where present which made the image more complicated. It is something very conservative how we in Sweden use signs and advertisement. In Turkey and in many other countries everything screams at you. Not a single touch of coordination based on decision from the community board 🙂
We arrived at the office of KAOS-GL and were met with wonderful people with great hospitality. The theme for this weekend is a training workshop for journalists for their newspaper that our Swedish project is funding. We got all the self introductions translated and what struck me was the courage and committment that all of the shared. But also that they were from different parts of Turkey and from almost all the different ethnic groups. The situation is Turkey is not easy with censorship, widespread homophobia and very powerful police and military security forces. But despite that they are doing a great job of exposing the life of LGBT-people and working to improve the quality of life.
I introduced myself and a lot of them were quite amazed not only to find out that I am a lesbian woman with a transsexual background but also a full-time career military officer. I generally find that travelling abroad now is a bit more difficult since I have still some special needs and I feel hygine is very important for me. Therefore going to the restroom was a bit of a chock. No toilet chair but just a big hole in the floor, with flushing though. I realised that I have so far never been sitting down and peeing with out a chair yet. I had no idea how to do it and felt really clumpsy when I soon realised that this was going to be really difficult. I won’t go into any more details but after I discovered that this design was very common here I realised that being in Turkey was starting to become really unpractical. After talking about my travel partner’s experiences in Africa I realised that I feel really comfortable travelling in Western Europe and North America. Backpacking does not work for me now 🙂 I need clean toilets, warm water and showers.
However, Turkey is nice. It feels like Islam light and there are not more women with headscarves here than in Stockholm I think. At least Ankara feels rather secular but our partners here were really worried about the increasing popularity of religion and the number of people that reguarly goes to the mosque is increasing each year. That is not good for LGBT-rights.
IDG håller på att lansera en ny webbsajt inriktad på IT-tjejer. Tycker det verkar vara ett kul intiativ eftersom det ibland känns lite ensamt att vara tjej ha ett brinnande intresse för IT-frågor. De ska tydligen ha en releasefest torsdagen den 6 mars och jag ska se om jag kan/får gå.
A new website aimed towards women/girls working in the IT-business is on its way. I think that is really cool since it sometimes feels like I am the only girl with a strong interest for IT-issues.
Arrived in Ankara, Turkey tonight after passing through the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul on our way here. We are staying at the Ankara Gold Hotel and I have got a fairly big room with one huge bed and one smaller one. I checked the TV and found CNN on channel 33 and that together with the free internet connection made me feel comfortable right away. I watch CNN a lot nowadays and think their coverage of the US Election is great. I think one of the reasons why I like CNN is that it reminds me of the vactions I had as small kid when we used my father’s bonus points to stay at nice hotels when travelling by car around Sweden and Europe. At a time when we only had SVT1 and SVT2 at home it was so exciting to check out the channels at the hotels. I have always been interested in politics and think I was a news junkie even back then. So CNN was on a lot of the time. And the signature sound of CNN together with the announcer saying “You are watching CNN International” became a sound connected to exciting vacations. I can actually still get some goose-bumps when hearing that 🙂 Strange but true. I like dramatic and powerful intros. Now I must finish up the preparation of my lecture tomorrow which deals with the way journalism for LGBT-people is affected by the development of the internet.
Last week I accepted an offer to go to Ankara in Turkey to attend a conference there. However, today I realised that I should check the recommendation for vaccines there. Hepatitus A and B seem to exist there and since I have so far only travelled to western Europe and the US I have never felt the need for that. I checked with the nurse at Sabbatsbergs sjukhus and she was very nice and told me they were open until 2000 on Thursdays. So I went there and got my vaccination. Some kind of combination treatment for both diseases. I need to take another shot in a months or so and the third and final one in about a year. I asked her about whether or not the shot would be seen on my regular blood tests for liver affection and she told me no. In fact having this vaccination could actually help to mitigate any liver affection that my rather strong medicines could cause. A good thing to do in many ways!
This has in many respects been bringing a lot of new experiences. The one year anniversary of my new pussy is getting closer. A lot of energy have been focused on getting by the physical healing and the mental part of not being able to be as chique and feminine as I used to be. However, the past months I sometimes realise that I have been much more aware of my own body that ever before. It is not just the surgery but my whole body with the effects of my hormone replacement therapy. It is those small sensations that sometimes get my attention. Not necessarily sexual in nature but just a different awareness of my body and how it reacts and looks in different situations. I feel so fortunate somedays and look at women walking down the street and feel some kind of kinship which I never felt that way before. I actually keep thinking “we look the same between our legs”. Otherdays it can just be sensations of my breasts and again not necessarily sexual in nature but just the mere presence of them is so nice. Somedays when I have removed my makeup and put on my night cream and brushed my hair I really see a woman looking back in the mirror and that is just wonderful.