Turkish authorities fire transgender doctor for ‘corrupting public morals’

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The Turkish Health Ministry dismissed a transexual doctor from her job at a public hospital on Monday, saying her social media posts were corrupting the morals of the public, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing Turkish media outlets.

Larin Kayataş said on Twitter that a colleague filed a complaint about her appearance with the Presidency Communications Center (CİMER) only a day after she started her job in 2020. A month after the complaint Kayataş was suspended for three months, and a few months later she was fired.

The local health authorities in İstanbul conducted an investigation while she was suspended, during which she was asked questions about her political leanings, her attendance at a March 8 Women’s Day demonstration and her sexual identity.

Kayataş said the authorities had directly targeted her private life during the investigation. “Authorities can’t interfere in my private life just because I work for a public hospital,” she said. “They can’t dictate what is moral or immoral when it comes to my personal decisions.”

Kayataş said she had never been accused of malpractice as a doctor and was committed to her job. She added that she loved her job and said there were no professional grounds for her dismissal.

According to Kayataş she can no longer work as a doctor because she has to complete her internship at a public hospital before she can seek work in private practice. Since she was fired from public service, she cannot work anywhere else.

“All those years of studying to become a doctor have gone down the drain,” she said. “The authorities are enforcing a conservative lifestyle by arguing that people like me are corrupting public morals, and that is unacceptable.”

According to a report published last year, transgender individuals in Turkey are at high risk of experiencing violence and discrimination at the individual level and discrimination and inequality at the institutional level.

Transgender women, in particular, are likely to experience discrimination due to their gender identity, thereby limiting their employment opportunities.

Transgender individuals’ experiences of violence and discrimination are intertwined with the lack of protection they receive from the government. Although neither being transgender nor homosexual are explicitly criminalized in Turkey, the LGBT population has not been accepted in Turkish society.

The report pointed out that transgender people are less likely to engage in the occupation for which they were trained as well as more likely to experience poverty, lack health insurance and attempt suicide due to discrimination than their cisgender LGB counterparts.

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