Trans women candidates from Turkish Workers' Party running for parliamentary seats

The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) has nominated three trans women to run for parliamentary seats. Zeynep Esmeray Özadakti and Talya Aydın are running in Istanbul’s second electoral district against the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu who is known for his anti-LGBTI+ stance. Niler Albayrak is running in Istanbul’s third electoral district.

This collage photo shows Zeynep Esmeray Özadikti (L), Talya Aydın (M) and Niler Özbayrak (R).

Eren Topuz / Gazete Duvar

The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) has nominated trans-woman activist and actress Zeynep Esmeray Özadikti as the MP candidate from Istanbul’s second electoral district in the third place.

Trans woman activist Talya Aydın was nominated as a candidate at the 18th place in the city's second district, while trans woman activist Niler Albayrak was nominated as a candidate at the 11th place in the third district.

Özadikti and Aydın are running against the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. Soylu used his position to bash the LGBTI+ community in Turkey, and many pride marches have been attacked during his term.

Gazete Duvar interviewed Aydın about her candidacy process and the work she will carry out if elected to the Parliament. She stated that they will do their best to end the hate climate in the country against the LGBTI+s, and added, "We will send a trans woman to the Parliament this election.” 

Aydın stated that the LGBTI+ community is currently one of the most disadvantaged groups in the country and they will adopt policies to improve their access to employment, housing and health. 

“Today, we are in such a situation that you cannot legally bond with your lover, your life partner, whom you have loved all your life, with whom you have built a life together. If they need to be hospitalized in the emergency room, you cannot go and visit them. One of the biggest shame of this country is the ordeal and struggle of LGBTI+s to take their loved ones and friends from the morgues. These will be my red lines as an LGBTI+,” she added. 

She said that the visibility of LGBTI+ candidates is very crucial for the improvement of the community's rights in the country. TİP has also other queer candidates from İzmir, Edirne, and Eskişehir provinces. 

"The May 14 elections are a historic election for Turkey, an election in which we will determine what kind of a country we dream for our future. Therefore, I find it strange that parties which aspire to govern the country ignore LGBTI+ representation while the community is being publicly targeted with anti-LGBTI+ hate marches in the streets," she said. 

This is not the first election in which trans candidates have run for office. In 2007, Demet Demir was the Freedom and Democracy Party’s (ÖDP) MP candidate as the first openly trans person to run for the Parliament.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)