Turkey: Trans journalist fired from television station

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

This week, Turkey’s only openly-transgender broadcast journalist was fired from IMC TV after a dispute between her and the station’s management.

According to management, Michelle Demishevich had her contract with IMC TV terminated because of a violation of station ethics.

Demishevich believes the termination came about because of her gender identity and a culture of transphobia.

She said: “They decided that we should part ways because they thought that I had violated professional ethics. According to what the general manager said, there was no problem with gender identity. My attitude and conduct reportedly caused a disturbance. It was not my gender identity, but my attire, the color of my hair, and my use of red lipstick that was considered intolerable.”

Demishevich went on to say: “I was employed at a low salary, without insurance.They tried to make me sign a paper stating that I waived my employee rights. My lawyer warned me and I did not sign it. At the moment I am an unemployed journalist.”

Demishevich is currently consulting with lawyers and is considering taking legal action against her former employer.

According to LGBT advocates in Turkey, Demishevich’s television presence was seen as a symbol of the country’s positive progression on LGBT issues. Her journalism focuses on LGBT and gender issues not covered by mainstream media.

She said: “Activism is not about only marching on the streets with flags. What I call activism is my working as [a] TV reporter when other trans people are only depicted negatively by the media.”

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