“She is my blood sister,” Ilkay said. Actually, he did not say “she” or “sister.” Because Turkish allows a gender-neutral narrative, he did not have to. I noted his use of the present tense; perhaps he could not bring himself to accept that she would now only live in memories, that she had been murdered. We were on the phone, and, in my mind, I was not picturing Ilkay as a man yet. It would take a much longer, face-to face conversation for me to decide upon the masculine pronoun for him. It was a “good for now” decision at best.
I had been researching the murder of Gaye, a 43-year-old trans woman killed in her home in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district on July 26. The neighbors who found her body three days later reported that she had been strangled, but the police are yet to make a public statement on the circumstances of her death. If Gaye’s killing proves to be motivated by hate as the local Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transsexual (LGBT) chapter claims, she will be the tenth known transgender victim of such crimes in Turkey in the last eighteen months.