Transgender woman 1st to win office in Cuba
HAVANA (AP) — Adela Hernandez, a biologically male Cuban who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for "dangerousness" after her own family denounced her sexuality.
This month she made history by becoming the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara.
In a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to grueling work camps in the countryside, Hernandez, 48, hailed her election as yet another milestone in a gradual shift away from macho attitudes in the years since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.
"As time evolves, homophobic people — although they will always exist — are the minority," Hernandez said by phone from her hometown.
Becoming a delegate "is a great triumph," she added.
Because she has not undergone sex-change surgery, Hernandez is legally still a man in the eyes of the Cuban state: Jose Agustin Hernandez, according to the civil registry. Hernandez, who switched back and forth between feminine and masculine pronouns when referring to herself during an interview, said she hasn't made a decision to seek an operation but doesn't rule it out either.
Hernandez won office in early November by taking a runoff vote 280-170. Her position is the equivalent of a city councilor, and her election makes her eligible to be selected as a representative to Parliament in early 2013.
For years after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, authorities hounded people of differing sexual orientation and others considered threatening, such as priests, long-haired youths and rock 'n' roll enthusiasts. But there have been notable changes in attitudes toward sexuality.
"I would like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that is being overcome," Fidel Castro told an interviewer some years ago.
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 21543Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 10852Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 8707Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 8666Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 8648Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 7837Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 7718Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister