Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Midori Koçak, a transgender woman from Turkey. Computer Scientist & Engineer with 13 years of PHP experience and chorist at the Turkish National Broadcasting Channel (TRT). Hello Midori!
People having parents in the army, know well how is difficult to communicate, my parents were more difficult to communicate because of having this success pressure. Because of that, I didn’t have somebody to share my feelings, or have courage coming out for years. I always knew some things were not as they should be, since I was aware of myself, and this is some age between 3 or 4.
|Courtesy of Midori Kocak.|
In November 2012 I contacted trans people, I started to get dressed in a more unisex way, tried some anti-androgens but the real efforts started somewhere in November 2014, using hormones, estrogen, in a daily routine, going to psychotherapy sessions. To realize changes is very difficult because you see every day yourself in the same mirror, and you cannot understand your hair has grown or not.
At first I encountered a big reaction from my family and my childhood friends. I am a translesbian, I really like women, and never had any relations with any guy and I never had any gay past. So it was shocking for them to accept this. I was planning to move to London to live there, I stayed at one army officer, a friend of my father.
At that time, I was working as an IT Director in the Czech Republic, at family business, in June 2013. I did not come out yet, but I was wearing unisex things, skinny jeans, loose t-shirts. So that guy phones my father and warns, “Be careful, your child would be a gay!” So my father fired me, and said “You can go anywhere, you can live in streets, I don’t care!” The time that I had been waiting for since my puberty was there. So I returned to Turkey and started to work as a freelancer.
Our choir consists of 82 people. On December 6, before our first concert with the new maestro, the oldest member of our youth choir, Ayşe Hülya Öztin (she had been a member of the youth choir for 26 years) started a campaign saying that I had no right to perform, because I didn’t know songs and I was not present during rehearsals. She was also giving me nicknames like “a transvestite typed boy”. I was exposed to a trans-phobic mobbing.
But I did not give up, even they decided to prevent my performance at concert, I took part in the last rehearsal, I talked with the maestro, and showed that I knew all of the songs and told him that I was not more absent that any other people in the choir. 15 minutes before the concert that woman and 21 old members of choir tried to pressure our conductor that if I was going to perform, they were not going to perform at the concert.
As a response, I said that “I am a trans person still in process, my friends are discriminated at streets; transpeople were killed because of being trans. If I don’t perform today, I do injustice to all of trans people.”
|Courtesy of Midori Kocak.|
After that day I decided to come out to all of the world. I changed my pictures on Facebook, started to dress as a woman, had my open identity everywhere. After 2 weeks, I started to work as software director in a company. I came out to my brother and my mother too.
At the beginning everything was difficult but seeing that I was respected with my open identity, no one cared about my gender because I was a software engineer with huge knowledge. We met together with my father, mother and brother, talked in a good way and made peace.
All of that happened in 5 months, and people say that this was very fast. I think previous efforts made by LİSTAG (LGBT family group of Istanbul), their documentary “Benim Çocuğum” (My child), talks between a member of Listag Pınar Özer with my mother, made this process shorter and with less pain. I really appreciate all of them.
For them the concept of sex is based on reproduction. Being a LGBT person, having concept of sex and love not based on any other thing like reproduction, money or anything else, having pure feelings, loving a human without any borders threatens this ideal family concept.
Being a trans person is very difficult at streets because these prejudices are supported by the government. We do not have hate crime law in Turkey. Also in Turkey the media say that all trans people are sex workers. This is a very discouraging thing for trans people. Most of them continue to live their lives in a mental prison; coming out is like hell for them.
However, coming out is so much better for a person itself. When a trans person is an expert about something like me or famous Bedi Usta, a master of handcrafted jewellery, then we have good jobs are we are respected by the educated people. However, most of people in Turkey being uneducated, they react at you by saying “look at that”, saying bad words, or make violence against person they did not know.
In addition, there are also homophobic people. I call them secret homosexuals, they hate homosexuals to keep their homosexuality secret. Because of all of these issues, I decided to move out of Turkey. I thought about moving to Italy or the Netherlands to continue to work as a Software Engineer.
Many people have misconceptions that if you are a trans person, you must be a sex worker, and they can talk to you about your price! Another thing is that transgender people are depicted so dramatically in movies. Turkey is very famous with its soap operas shown in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and Balkans but I don’t remember any soap opera having trans characters in it.
Also being transgender is not easy to keep secret until you are perfectly passable. Even that, you have to be an open transgender person during your process. This is very difficult. LGB people have to understand and respect the value of this challenge. Because there are some LGB activists calling themselves as politically trans or calling themselves “A female” but with complete male look without any effort of change.
It is very difficult for a young person to make some changes in the Turkish politics due to the hierarchical candidate system of the election law, protecting powerful parties and there is 10% threshold that is killing the representation of small parties. I believe more in the solidarity of small groups. The solidarity groups should be organized by using a network type organisation structure model. Everybody has to help each other, so we would not need the politics of lies and miserable state helping us.
However if you try to meet, talk and ask questions to people like you and get their responses, you will understand that you are not the only girl wit gender dysphoria. The second thing is to be an expert at something to have your economic independence. The biggest armor that will protect you against your family and society, is your education, profession and expertise.
I would like to say that nothing is never too late. It is your right to live your life. There would be times when you feel depressed, alone and sad. However all of these are part of the process and there is always a light in the end of the tunnel.