Creating a Space for Trans Self-Narrative in 1930s Turkey: Kenan Çinili’s Memoir
The memoir of Kenan Çinili, a transgender person who was widely covered by newspapers in Turkey in the second half of the 1930s, sheds light on the historically and geographically unique workings of cisheteronormativity. Through a self-reflexive reading of the memoir and newspaper accounts from this period, this article explores how a narrative transgender subjectivity emerges from the appropriation and negotiation of tropes, figures and discourses that make this subjectivity intelligible. Through the use of the medium of photography, which exposed and spectacularised gender nonconformity, Kenan was able to performatively embody and visually present a masculine gender identity. However, the space Kenan created for narrative and visual self-constitution was conditioned by their privileges based on class, urban–rural hierarchy, ethnicity and normative sexual dimorphism.