Tuğçe Özbiçer/ DUVAR

The Turkish independent label Müstesna Records is set to release the shelTer album, a 24-track compilation composed of a variety of local and international artists, with all proceeds earned from the album going to benefit Istanbul’s Eylül Cansın Trans Guesthouse. 

The trans shelter was named after 23-year-old trans woman Eylül Cansın, who killed herself in 2015. Before taking her own life, Cansın filmed a video where she mentioned that she wanted to work but could not find any, and could no longer bear it anymore. 

Müstesna Records was founded by Ece Özel and Umut Kahya, recognizable figures in Istanbul’s independent music scene. ShelTer will follow the label’s “Etnik Sentetik” release, which features music recorded between 1995-2016. 

Turkey has the highest rate of murders of trans people in Europe, and the ninth in the world, and over 20 artists from Turkey and abroad have come together on the album to raise awareness locally and internationally about trans murders and suicides. 

“Ece and I were discussing about whether we could do something in our own realm regarding the issue of hate crimes and trans murders. I think this was around May or June. Later on we asked the artists that we knew if they would like to take part in the project, and we received positive replies from nearly everyone we spoke with,” said Kahya. 

“Unfortunately the guesthouse is closed at the moment, and during the eviction process we are going to contribute to help find a new place for the guests and to help cover rent and renovation expenses,” Kahya said.  

The album’s release party was held on Wednesday evening at the Suma Han venue in Istanbul’s Karaköy with performances from Özel, Kahya, Barış K. and other musicians. 

“LGBT people have a very important place in the Istanbul music and night life, but they have had to continually struggle for this place, and at times this struggle has had to be repeated from scratch,” Özel said. 

“Many things have changed from the past until the present of course, the new generation looks at this situation differently, and the world is different anyway. But there are still some basic things that need to be understood,” she said.