Repeating Islands

Adela Hernandez 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. A biologically male Cuban who has lived as a female since childhood, 48 year old Hernandez served two years in prison in the 1980s for ‘‘dangerousness’’ after her own family denounced her sexuality.

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,´…

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