Civil Partnership / Gay Marriage / Istanbul / LGBT / Marriage / Turkey & Turkish

A Brief Lesson in Sex, Sexuality and Gender

It seems that the man on the Clapham omnibus often gets his Calvins in a coil when trying to work out the difference between sex, sexuality and transexuality. Put simply (simplistically, even), sex is what you do, sexuality is who you fancy and transexuality is when you are born the wrong gender. A sex change does not alter an individual’s sexuality. Therefore, a woman born as a man who fancies men will still fancy men after the op. Likewise, a woman born as a man who fancies women will still fancy women. Got it?

The reason I’m labouring this point is because my good friend and new kid on the blogging block over at Back to Bodrum sent me an article about two gay men, Aras Güngör and Barış Sulu. They intend to marry in Turkey. Impossible, I hear you collectively cry. Under ordinary circumstances you would be correct but these are not ordinary circumstances. You see, Aras is a transexual born female and now living as a man. Therefore, he carries a ‘pink’ identity. Barış carries a ‘blue’ identity so, under Turkish law, they are permitted to marry with all the rights and duties that entails. They intend to use their matrimony to campaign for marriage equality. I wish them the best of luck and I hope they can stay safe from those who will seek to bring them down.

You can read their courageous story here.

Despite a long tradition of transexuality in Turkey, transexuals have a rough time. With the exception of a few at the top of the entertainment heap, most are marginalised and reviled. Some end up leading brutal lives and resort to prostitution to bring home the daily bread. I saw this first hand during my inaugural trip to Istanbul in 2003 when street ladies in Laura Ashley frocks would leap out from behind parked cars in the dingy side roads along Tarlabaşi Bulvari. It scared the life out of me.

Just for the record, transvestites are people who cross dress, often, but not always, for sexual gratification. Most transvestites, like most people, are straight. Drag queens are not transvestites. They are female impersonators and entertainers (though not always convincing or entertaining). It’s all part of the rich tapestry of humanity, I’m pleased to say.

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17 thoughts on “A Brief Lesson in Sex, Sexuality and Gender

  1. I wish the young couple good luck and happiness, and hope their campaign will have some effect – very brave of them. In Jamaica, people mostly get transexuals, transvestites AND gays completely mixed up and put them all in the same category…in other words, unacceptable, an abomination unto the Lord…and dangerous predators. Deep sigh.

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  2. my favourite explanation of such topics and their definitions is to be found in the film “To Wong Foo, thanks for everything, Julie Newman”, a little-known but absolutely brilliant film which explained to me perfectly clearly the difference between transsexual, trasvestite and drag queen (all 3 of which I’ve probably spelt wrong!) and starred not only Patrick Swayze but also Wesley Snipes and John Leguzamo … definitely recommend a ‘watch’!! x

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  3. OK – I don’t care what people do or with whom they do it, as long as they’re both consenting.
    But I’m confused where Aras Güngör and Barış Sulu are concerned. Sounds so complex that Aras was born female, became male and will now cement a gay marriage! Apart from all sounding so improbable in Turkey, it seems such a torturous route.
    I’m sure I’m probably missing an important point … forgive me, I’m just a stupid heterosexual.

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    • What isn’t clear is whether Aras is post-op. If he is, Turkish law doesn’t allow for a birth certificate to altered to change someone’s sex – hence the pink identity and the fact that they can marry because he’s still legally female.

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  4. It’s a shame there is a need for all these explanations. It can sometimes feel that by explaining you somehow have to justify the way people choose to lead their lives…and that in itself is wrong.

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  5. Following the article I sent you, it seems that despite one being a “pink” and the other being a “blue” they have not been given permission to marry. The stumbling block being the medical test. Aras has had a mastectomy and takes hormones which has the authorities in a tiz. The boys are taking their case to the high court so watch this space.

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