Once that clock starts, the adrenaline begins pumping too. Though the days stretch on into nights, at a certain point I get into the flow of the challenge set out in front of me and lose track of everything else—the time remaining, the cameras, the nerves.
I am convinced all people should have the opportunity to be who they feel they are; not who society says they should be. Earning my legal identification as a non-binary and transgender person is proof that after being consumed with insecurities, pride is possible.
This change gives non-binary people visibility, validates us, and shows society that we are not living in confusion. It is an identity all its own. We resist, we exist, and we are people who have family, work, and everyday life.
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.