Cuban trans community wants its own law

Havana (AFP) – Kiriam, Malú and Victoria, three Cuban trans women from different generations, trust that the Family Code, which Cuba will submit to a referendum soon, will mitigate the phobia they have suffered for decades, but they advocate a gender identity law.

The Family Code, which will renew the law in force for 47 years, aims to revolutionize the concept of family by introducing equal marriage, but also the possibility of recognizing several fathers and mothers in addition to the biological ones and “solidarity gestation”.

The project of this code was submitted between January and April to a popular consultation neighborhood by neighborhood throughout the island.

“It’s an important step, because in this code we talk about same-sex marriage, common-law marriage,” something “very revolutionary,” Kiriam, a 45-year-old trans actress, told AFP.

But Kiriam, who is preparing to shoot “Malecón”, by the Spanish filmmaker Carlos Arrazabal, is committed to “a comprehensive gender identity law”, which “penalizes homophobia, transphobia”, and guarantees “the right of trans people to to have a protected education, to have decent jobs”.

Malú (58) arrived in Havana eight months ago from the center of the island, trying to erase a past of family rejection, mistreatment, police siege and two imprisonments for “dressing as a woman”, in 1980 and 2003.

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YAMIL LAGE AFP

“Let the one who is born (trans) be accepted like this, not be rejected,” says this slender trans woman hopefully, in her “little house” in Havana, without furniture and with a zinc roof. She lives off the money she receives in a club in the capital, where she imitates the Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja, she is her idol.

“Deal With The Pain”

“God wants it to be” as that law says, asks Victoria (73), although the gray hair she hides behind a brown wig makes her cautious: “Paper says one thing and people do others.”

Dressed in a tube skirt, a printed blouse and heels, Victoria, a retired cook, a neighbor of Malú, regrets having decided only 11 years ago to “dress” as a woman.

This bisexual trans is grateful that her eyes have been “opened” in TransCuba, a support and training network, with some 3,700 members throughout the country. “My life changed,” she notes, as she puts on her makeup.

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YAMIL LAGE AFP

In a Cuba still marked by machismo and homophobia, whose government persecuted and marginalized homosexuals in the 1960s and 1970s, Kiriam does not forget the harassment she suffered for being “a different girl”, nor how they forced her into a clinic “to practice combat sports” to “masculinize” her.

“But I have known how to deal with the pain and become strong,” adds the actress, who shows her bulging breasts on Twitter, the result of an “illegal” surgery.

He comments that “at some point” he also thought of undergoing sexual reassignment surgery, which began to be practiced in the country in 1988, but later regretted it. These operations are interrupted by the economic crisis.

For more than a decade, the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) has promoted the fight for the rights of LGBTI people, under the direction of Deputy Mariela Castro, daughter of former President Raúl Castro.

Without success, the center promoted equal marriage in the proposal for a new Constitution approved in 2019, which enshrined the rights of that community. The new family code aims to go further.

We do not have to wait

Not all the news is encouraging. Mariela Castro said that the first results of the popular consultation on the code showed that Cubans accept equal marriage more than “solidarity gestation” and adoption by homosexual couples.

“Marriage doesn’t interest me as much as all the other rights,” says Victoria, who went to jail for three months in 1983 after defending his gay status in court.

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YAMIL LAGE AFP

He gives as an example the case of a friend who had a homosexual relationship for 30 years. “In life, the family did not look at him, when he died everyone wanted to come to the gay’s house to strip things, and they left his partner on the street.”

Ivón Calaña, deputy director of Cenesex, maintains that “not necessarily” a gender identity law should be expected because aspects such as name and sex change, established in regulations already approved in countries such as Argentina, Chile and Mexico, could be included in other Cuban laws subject to review.

In any case, he warns that “a law by itself will not have enough force to compel this change” that is needed, and insists that in order to move in this direction “one of the most powerful tools is the comprehensive education of sexuality” from childhood.

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Cuban trans community wants its own law