Bulent Ersoy


One of Turkey's most popular singers and actors. The singer, famed for her rendition of classical Ottoman music and as a TV personality, Bulent Ersoy has been a controversial figure, in Turkey, since undergoing sex change operation in 1981. She had previously carved out a successful singing and acting career as a man. After the operation, Ersoy's public performances were banned, in Turkey, in a crackdown on 'social deviance' with those of other trans-sexual and trans-gendered people. To circumvent the ban, she petitioned the Turkish courts to legally recognise her as a woman. Following the rejection of the petition in 1982, later Ersoy attempted to commit suicide. In 1983 she left the entertainment industry in protest to the regime's repressive policies. Ersoy continued her career, however, mostly in Germany. Along with her musical career she made several Turkish movies in Germany. The Turkish Civil Code was revised in 1988 so that those who completed sex re-assignment surgery could be legally recognised in their new sex. Ersoy soon returned to Turkey to continue singing and acting, becoming more popular as a woman than she had been as a man. She started to be called 'Abla', or 'elder sister', an affectionate sign of total acceptance of her gender. On her 1995 album, Ataturka, Ersoy sang the adhan as part of the piece, 'Aziz Istanbul', an act which because of her trans-sexual status, angered many Muslim clerics. In 1998, further storm of controversy erupted because she married her companion who was over twenty years younger than she was. Now semi-retired Ersoy continues to enjoy the love and adoration of her many fans because of her extraordinary talent of singing songs with a command of her voice. She still performs in many Turkey's TV shows including most popular Pop-star Ataturka. For criticising the Turkish army Ersoy currently faces trial in the Turkish penal code, which makes it a crime to undermine the institution of military service.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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