BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Adela Hernandez, who was jailed for "dangerousness" in the 1980s, has become the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba, after her election to the municipal government of Caibarién in Villa Clara, The Guardian reports.
Hernandez, 48, who was elected to a position akin to a city councillor earlier this month, says she was disowned by her family, noting that it was her father who reported her to authorities, leading to her imprisonment.
"As time evolves, homophobic people — although they will always exist — are the minority," Hernandez told The Guardian. The report notes that Hernandez switched between masculine and feminine pronouns during the interview, saying she had not yet decided to pursue surgery but had not ruled it out. From the government's perspective, she is still legally a man.
Hernandez has worked as a hospital janitor, a nurse and an electrocardiogram technician; her work with a neighbourhood watch committee earned her the trust of her community and paved the way for her electoral success.
"I represent a community, but I will always keep in mind the defence of gays," she says.
In a country where queer people were sent to hard labour camps, Hernandez says her victory is a "great triumph" in the gradual movement away from macho attitudes since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret for the treatment meted out to people perceived as different.
Cuba has covered gender reassignment surgery under its free healthcare system since 2007, and activists have held gay pride marches.
Landing image: Fox News Latino Ramon Espinosa photo