19 November 2012

First Transgender Representative Elected in Cuba.

Her own father reported her to the Cuban authorities.  During the 1980's, she spent two years in prison for her "dangerousness."

This month, she was elected as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the province of Villa Clara.  Her office is more or less equivalent to that of a city councilor in the United States. Now she is eligible to be selected as a representative to the Cuban Parliament next year.

Adela Hernandez is now the first known transgender person to be elected to public office in Cuba.  Although she is known as a female to those who have worked and lived alongside her, the Cuban government still classifies her as male, for she has not had gender reassignment surgery.

Even so, her election represents a change in attitudes about homosexuality and gender variance that simply would have been unimaginable through much of Fidel Castro's regime.  Interestingly, although Castro allied himself with the Soviet Union and turned himself, and his country, to Communism, his persecution and imprisonment of LGBT people has more in common with such right-wing military (or militaristic) dictatorships as those of Franco in Spain and the Perons in Argentina.

Interestingly, Spain became one of the first countries to legalize same-sex unions.  And Argentina not only did the same; it passed what may be the most liberal laws regarding gender identity in the entire world.  Were she in Argentina, Ms. Hernandez could have herself classified as male and would probably be allowed to have gender-reassignment surgery, for which the government would pay.

To be fair, I should point out that Cuba's national healthcare system has been providing gender-reassignment surgery free of charge since 2007.  I don't know why Ms. Hernandez has not had it.  Perhaps the screening process has even more hurdles than it has in other countries.  Or, perhaps, she has some other mitigating circumstance, or simply wishes to live as the woman she has always known she is.  (She's been living as female since she was a child.)

Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see what, if any, influence her election has on the lives and treatment of transgender people in Cuba.