Cuba’s First Transgender Person Elected to Public Office

Image via AP/Ramon Espinosa

In a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to grueling work camps in the countryside, Adela Hernandez has become the first openly transgender person to be voted into public office in Cuba, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara. Hernandez is a biologically male, who has lived as a female since childhood and served two years in prison in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality.

She 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. 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. [AP]

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