Over the last two decades, issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity have gained significant visibility and attention across the globe. The case of Iran is particularly fraught, and has received plenty of coverage due to the work of international non-profits.
What happens when almost 3,000 men, women and transgender people march down the main street of a major Muslim metropolis, chanting against patriarchy, the military and restrictive public morals, waving the rainbow flag and hoisting banners decrying homophobia and demanding an end to discrimination? Or when a veiled transvestite carries a placard calling for freedom of education for women wearing the headscarf and, for transsexuals, the right to work?
Few social groups can boast the visibility and media attention that male-to-female transsexuals have received in Turkey in recent years. At one point, hardly a month went by without some feature in a popular magazine or a television interview. The cartoonist Latif Demirci captured this frenzied interest with his depiction of an apartment block in a notorious back street of Istanbul. Through each window, a transsexual could be seen being interviewed, filmed or recorded, while building janitors implored a queue of journalists waiting in the street outside to be patient. A recent book offering vignettes on modern Turkey devoted an entire chapter to an interview with Sisi, a famous transsexual.