New horizons opened up for transsexuals in Cuba with the approval of a Public Health Ministry resolution that establishes guidelines for their health care, including free gender reassignment operations.
"It was just approved. The operations will begin to be carried out as soon as the Cuban medical team is ready to start," Mariela Castro, head of the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), told IPS.
Since 2004, Castro, President Raúl Castro's daughter, has been the driving force in the effort to achieve integral health care for transsexuals in Cuba.
The devil's always in the details, of course. I don't know what guidelines the CENESEX will be using to determine who qualifies and who doesn't, but here's the numerical break-down:
Since its creation as a working group in 1979, the National Commission for Integral Care of Transsexual People has received 92 applications and has confirmed the diagnosis of 27 transsexuals, two transvestites and two effeminate male homosexuals, according to "La transexualidad en Cuba" (Transsexualism in Cuba), a book published by CENESEX in May.
Of the 27 diagnosed transsexuals, 19 hope to undergo surgery. The other eight do not, but they want to legally change their gender identity. So far, 13 have been able to change their names and replace the photo on their identity cards, and seven are waiting for approval of the process by the Justice Ministry.
Only two of the 27 are female-to-male transgender persons, and the statistics include the male-to-female transsexual who underwent surgery in 1988 and has lived as a woman since then.
More than half of them live in Havana, and they range in age from 31 to 40. Most are white, only five completed secondary school, and eight have been accepted as members of the Cuban Women's Federation (FMC), the only women's association in this Caribbean island nation.
Cuba is 65% white.
They currently don't allow people to change the gender on their state ID without undergoing SRS, but they're working to change that:
"We have also presented the arguments for a decree law on gender identity that would legally establish that a sex reassignment operation is not necessary for obtaining a change of identity, in the case of diagnosed transsexuals. That would basically amount to social recognition of their identity," said Castro.
h/t Beth Marion