Adela Hernandez | Ramon Espinosa/AP | 14334
Adela Hernandez served two years in prison in Cuba in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality. 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. Things have changed since none other than Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.
She has become 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, by 280 votes to 170. Her position is the equivalent of a city councillor, and her election makes her eligible to be selected as an MP in early 2013.
Since 2007, Cuba has included sex-change surgery under its free healthcare system. Last year, a gay man and a transsexual woman whose operation was paid for by the state garnered headlines for their first-of-its kind wedding.
The country’s most prominent gay rights activist is Mariela Castro, Fidel’s niece and daughter of the president, Raúl Castro.