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That "an unvarnished, polychromatic, and sardonic view on…life of the city from all strata of society" Thing

December 2, 2010

We don’t have our mission statement for no good reason, you know.

Much can be said of Istanbul as a “Global City” and not just a Turkish city. Istanbul can be as much like Los Angeles or Tokyo as it can be like Bursa or Diyarbakir, it just depends on which part of the city you’re describing.

Tarlabaşı is one of those former. Like Alphabet City, or at least Alphabet City c. 1990, it’s one of the few remaining areas around Taksim where there’s still a rawness and probably the one place expats live with street cred (in Arnavutköy, however, live in a quaint village). I prefer my poverty rural, not urban, but there is something to the area, a shard of genuine in the otherwise freshly-painted area of town.

I used to live in nearby Elmadağ, which my then-neighbor insidiously labeled as “Harbiye,” which is famous for its more upper-class sex workers servicing the Hilton and Intercontinental. Tarlabaşı has a somewhat more, shall we say, salty crowd.

Rena Effendi, the fantastic Azeri photographer, has put together a photo essay and worked with fellow Azeri Arzu Geybullayeva to put some words together on transgender people in Istanbul. I know that people who read us and people who read EurasiaNet tend to be kinda the same, but this is really a story that shouldn’t be missed.

Bully on Mss. Effendi and Geybullayeva  for not playing a sort of exotic angle, a pity angle, a condemning angle, or a Muslim angle. Transgender people are, one would imagine, people first and foremost, and shouldn’t be treated as anything different. They flock to Istanbul, the big city, for the same reason most of us do: shiftlessness, inability to be accepted elsewhere, or just because the city kind of rocks. It’s a story for its own sake and for Turkey’s sake. And not for weirdness’s.

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