Question: I am a transsexual living in the US. I am considering going to Thailand for SRS but Cuba is closer and if the results and cost is of interest to me, I might change my plans. Can you put me in touch with the clinic that performs the surgery? Have any patients been interviewed on their individual outcome of SRS?
Answer: Sex-change surgery, also known as SRS or sex reassignment surgery, is a procedure that changes a person’s genital organs from one gender to another.
In 1979, Cuba identified 122 people who wanted to have sex changes, with the first operation performed nine years later. But because of a negative reaction from society at large, subsequent sex-change procedures were prohibited so as to focus on public education.
In 2008, Cuba began performing sex-change surgery again, and by January 2010, about half of the 30 Cubans approved to date to undergo the procedure had received the operation, which is covered by Cuba’s universal health care system. In Cuba, an individual who has a sex-change operation and the resultant change of gender identity is able to obtain a legal change of identity, including a new Identity Card.
However, an article published in The Washington Post on January 19, 2010 says that because of budget constraints, SRS is not offered to foreigners who travel to Cuba for medical care.
For more detailed information, you might contact the Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX or the National Centre for Sex Education), the country’s main institution dealing with sexual diversity.
Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX)
Calle 10 #460
Esquina a 21
Vedado – Plaza de la Revolucion
Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Telephone (537) 838-2528 or 838-2529
Email [email protected]
Created in 1989 out of the National Working Group on Sex Education – founded in 1972 by the Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (FMC or Federation of Cuban women) – CENESEX is made up of experts and operates as an adviser to the permanent parliamentary commission on children, youth, and women’s rights. Its mandate includes creating and implementing the National Programme for Sex Education.
Among its goals, CENESEX promotes legal reform that would recognize same-sex unions and grant rights equal to those of heterosexual couples, including access to assisted fertilization services. CENESEX also encourages reform of the country’s Family Code, which – if approved – will recognize equal rights for heterosexual and homosexual couples.
To assist in its aim of overcoming taboos and prejudices that persist in Cuba about homosexuality or bisexuality, CENESEX publishes on its Internet site – www.cenesex.sld.cu– a section on sexual diversity, which provides general information, posts public opinions e-mailed to the web site, provides Cubans the opportunity to consult with experts, etc. Since 1994, CENESEX also publishes, three times a year, a magazine entitled Revista Sexología y Sociedad (Sexology and Society Magazine) which covers a wide range of issues dealing with sexual diversity. The magazine can also be accessed online at www.cenesex.sld.cu/webs/revista.htm
CENESEX also carries out training programs for transsexual and transvestite sexual health promoters, as well as holding seminars with the police, municipal party leaders, the permanent commissions of parliament, within the educational sector and with the public. Since 2004, CENESEX director Mariela Castro – a sexologist, gay-rights advocate, and daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and niece of Fidel Castro – has been working on awareness-raising strategies covering non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, recognition of same-sex couples and their unions, responsibilities towards transsexuals, transvestites, and transgender people, etc.
Cuba’s advances in the area of sexual diversity are impressive, considering that its roots lie in a predominant cultural tradition entrenched in machismo and homophobia. For instance, as recently as the 1960s, 70s and 80s, resistance was still very strong within the country to even mentioning sexual diversity. However, as a result of the work of CENESEX and other institutions during the past 30 years, Cuba is perhaps the most liberal nation in Latin America on gender issues.