Human Rights

“Correct declaration of gender” to take a train!

Friday, October 14, 2016

If you want to take a train of Turkish State Railways (TSR), you must specify your “correct” gender identity. Otherwise, you would be forced to leave the train.

In the intercity transportation system in Turkey, “separated seats for female and male passengers” which locates passengers to seats in terms of their ID colours (blue for male, pink for female according to Turkish laws) and assigned gender identities has been implemented for a long time.

In this context, according to an announcement in TSR’s website “passengers who declared their gender identity wrong” would be located in different seats if available; if any seat is available, they have to travel while standing; otherwise, if they object to the situation, they are forced to leave the train on the next station.

According to the announcement about the implication which violates many people’s transportation rights, every passenger buying tickets are acknowledged that all personal information they provided are correct. While emphasizing the option of chosing seats, it says:

“Genders must be declared in this system. Responsibility about the issue is on the passenger him/herself. If any wrong declaration is detected during the travel, they would be located in different seats if available. If the new seat is in another class, price gap must be paid by the passenger. If any seat is available during the relocation of the passenger, s/he would be acknowledged as s/he accepts travelling while standing. If any of those options is not accepted by the passenger, s/he would have to leave the train in the next stop/ s/he would not be allowed to continue the journey.”

Irregularity of binary gender

After the related news, Kaos GL talked to customer services of TSR and asked if this implementation is new and ‘what are the purposes of the implication?’. Customer service official tried to justify the implication as the discomfort of the other passengers; that is, passengers travelling individually should seat in terms of their gender identity such as "female next to female or male next to male". In this context, it was asked to them what if the passsenger is a trans person whose ID card was not changed. They said that they treated passengers as for their appearance; that is, if they look like women, s/he is treated as women.

On ‘the irregularity of binary gender’ issue, trans activist Janset Kalan from Pink Life stated:

"Probably the implication is against non-trans heterosexual men for possible security measures and preventing the sexual harrassment. However, the impacts affect and exclude a lot of trans or genderqueer/agender/bigender etc. people... It is also a problem for me to be asked as if I am a woman or a man; therefore, this is an irregularity of binary genders problem... Turkish Republic assigns a gender identity when we were born, but it should be the choice of the individuals themselves.”

“Freedom of mobility become restricted”

Kalan also stated that freedom of mobility/ travel become restricted with those kinds of regulations and added:

"It is a matter in dispute even when they have the statements on their website. The announcement is also against both UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights, and the constitution as well. It is obviously the violation of rights.”

Translation: Damla Umut Uzun

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