I was teased, scorned, and labeled. I was bullied and humiliated in public. My 'friends' reacted in the only way they were taught to: with disgust.
In our community, you are either a man or a woman. I grew up as a man due to my community’s expectations and having been born in the 70s, a time when no one knew about intersex people. I was therefore forced to live and act like a man.
This year, like every year since 2013, police broke up Istanbul's Pride Parade. And like every year, I was there to protest anyway.
Inside jail, I began to look for ways to improve the lives of my trans companions: I took care of the HIV patients, who did not have help.
On May 23, a man beat me up and yelled homophobic slurs at my wife and me. The situation quickly turned life-threatening, and all I could do was hope I would not die.
Not taking antiretroviral medicines means I have given HIV the chance to multiply the deadly virus in my body and further weaken my immunity.
My family and neighbors broke the door to my house with anger, entered, and started beating and stoning us.
From the moment I chose to be Mara, I began to suffer violence and bullying from society. I was singled out, criticized, questioned, and discriminated against at school, on the street, and in my everyday life.