Doctor refuses to perform surgery on patient simply because she’s trans: ‘He said his hands got dirty’

The trans refugee faced intense persecution for being trans.

A bigoted doctor bluntly refused to perform minor surgery on a patient in Istanbul, Turkey, just because she is trans.

Pelin, a 32-year-old sex worker based in the eastern Beyoğlu district, visited the Taksim Training and Research Hospital for a small operation on 25 May.

But her doctor launched into a transphobic tirade when he realised she is trans, kicking her out of the room before tearing up her medical papers.

“What has hurt me the most he said that his hands got dirty,” she told Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, the country’s oldest LGBT+ rights group. “I don’t want privilege, I just want equal treatment.”

After filing a complaint, she was told by officials that the doctor was experiencing a “nervous moment”.

“At first, he showed interest and care,” trans woman Pelin recalled. “He said he would operate with local anaesthesia on [28 May].”

When the doctor asked for Pelin’s Turkish identification number he “suddenly started to yell” while sat by his computer.

“He said: ‘Are you a transvestite?’,” Pelin recalled. “When I said, ‘Yes’, he said, ‘I’m not a transvestite doctor’, and tore the papers and threw them away.”

Pelin stressed that the doctor has already examined her in the past. “I wouldn’t do it if I knew you were a transvestite,” he hit back. “My hands are dirty now.”

“He then shouldered me and forced me out,” she added.

The doctor continued to shout transphobic slurs at Pelin as she left his office, she said which was backed up by two hospital security guards.

The trans woman submitted a complaint to the hospital’s patients rights official who on 26 May informed her: “You might have encountered the doctor at a nervous moment.”

As a result, she was referred to another doctor at the hospital.

Since the incident, Pelin has filed further complaints with the Istanbul Medical Chamber, the city’s top medical association, as well as the prosecutor’s office.

Trans folk in Turkey have faced increased hostility in recent years at a time where LGBT+ rights have been hobbled by relentless attacks from lawmakers.

In May, the country’s media watchdog fined a streaming service and forced it to strip an episode of a talk show because it featured an interview with a trans woman.

And in one flash point of the rising tensions, a trans woman was blinded after a man threw acid at her face.