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Turkey’s first transgender TV reporter speaks about her struggle and success

Turkey’s first transgender TV reporter speaks about her struggle and success

Before transitioning, Michelle Demishevich was fired from her job as a newspaper journalist in Izmir, Turkey. Now nearly 15 years later she has been hired by Turkish TV channel IMC as a reporter. 

‘I have heard of trans columnists but I am the first trans TV reporter in Turkey,’ Demishevich said to Bianet.org about her dream come true.

‘This is a great feeling indeed. I work for a TV now, I feel its responsibility on my shoulders.’ 

After moving to Istanbul in 1999 and becoming Michelle (the name is taken from The Beatles’ song), Demishevich didn’t expect to work in journalism again. She spent most of the next decade working for nightclubs and became involved in LGBT rights activism. Her activism led her to interview slots on Turkey’s IMC TV and then being offered a job with them.

Demishevich said there are a lot of gay and lesbian people working in the Turkish media but they don’t come out because they are afraid of losing their jobs.

Even though Demishevich loves her new job, settling in the role hasn’t been easy with bullying from co-workers.

‘You are the other and they always make you feel like that,’ she said, describing hearing comments and laughing about her from colleagues when she first started working at the TV channel. Security guards would question her right to enter the building every morning.

‘The very first 15-20 days, I used to cry every time I got back home,’ Demishevich said. ‘But I made up my mind, I wouldn’t give up.’

Demishevich believes that education is essential for LGBT people. ‘It builds self-esteem,’ she said. ‘If you aren’t educated, they call you "faggot" on the street, you are forced to work as sex-worker. But finish-up your school. If you follow your dreams, they will definitely come true.’

Watch Demishevich in action on IMC TV here: