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Joy! Cuba Now Pays For ‘Sex Changes’

From a walking on air Associated Press:

In this March 5, 2010 photo, Yiliam Gonzalez, left, speaks with her mother Janeth Anchia as they clean dishes in a friend’s home in Havana.

In paying for sex changes, Cuba breaks from past

By Will Weissert, Associated Press Writer

March 10, 2010

HAVANA – Looking in the mirror used to make Yiliam Gonzalez sick to her stomach.

"I would see myself, and my body didn’t match who I was," said the 28-year-old wedding pianist, who went by William before receiving a sex change under Cuba’s universal health care system.

Gonzalez is living proof of a small but remarkable transformation for the rugged revolution of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and a band of ever-macho, bearded rebels, who long punished gays and transsexuals — but now are paying for sex changes.

Standing six feet (183 centimeters) tall, with shoulder-length blond hair, heavy makeup and an ID card still bearing a man’s name, Gonzalez underwent the procedure in 2008. She was one of eight Cubans to do so through a program begun in 1988 — then suspended for two decades, after many complained the communist government had better ways to spend its scarce resources.

The operations have begun anew under President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela, Cuba’s top gay-rights activist, and 22 more transsexuals are waiting to have it performed.

Mariela Castro says the government is moving cautiously, doing only a few per year.

"There has been a lot of resistance because homophobia remains strong in our culture," she said at a recent conference on sexuality.

In the 1960s, Cuba was ferociously anti-gay, firing homosexuals from state jobs, imprisoning them or sending them to work camps. Many fled into exile. Transsexuals, though not gay, were considered the same…

Mariela Castro has seen to it that the state formally recognizes transsexuals. A state-trained kindergarten teacher with a degree in sexuality, she runs the National Sexual Education Center. It spent years lobbying communist officials, who finally agreed to lift bans on sex changes in 2008 — though the resolution was never made public to avoid unwanted attention. ..

Religious objections weren’t a problem in Cuba, which was officially atheist for decades. Instead, many Cubans claimed their country was too poor to pay for the procedure, writing letters to the editor in the Communist Party newspaper Granma after the first successful Cuban surgery was announced in 1988.

Leclair said a male-to-female change can cost $10,000 to $25,000 in the U.S., or up to four times higher than that, depending on all the procedures performed. About a dozen American doctors do between 1,000 and 2,000 such operations a year, she said.

Canada, Britain, France and Brazil offer government-financed sex changes, among other countries.

San Francisco began paying for sex changes for city and county employees in 2001, and Fort Worth, Texas, is considered following suit. Some large employers, including IBM and the University of California, negotiated contracts with their private insurers to cover the procedure known medically as "sexual reassignment surgery," and other insurance companies have begun covering at least part of the treatments…

Cuba won’t say how much its sex change costs, but doctors earn state salaries worth an average of about $20 per month.

Cuban doctors received training from visiting Belgians on how to do the surgeries, and doctors from both countries were present during the procedures.

Despite a global recession that has hit Cuba especially hard, prompting Raul Castro to announce unspecified cuts in health-care spending, his daughter says the state can’t afford not to perform the surgeries…

Wow. The Cuban healthcare system now really is the best in the world.

Funny, though, how they didn’t pay for this in the past. In fact, as the article grudgingly notes, they tended to lock up such people for years – until very recently. In fact, maybe they are still jailing homosexuals.

But funny how we never heard much about that from the Associated Press.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Joy! Cuba Now Pays For ‘Sex Changes’”

  1. Petronius says:

    “Canada, Britain, France and Brazil offer government-financed sex changes, among other countries.”

    That tells you just about everything you need to know about government-run health systems.

    The British NHS provides a surgeon for abortions for all comers. But no obstetrician to deliver your baby; for that you get a midwife.

  2. MinnesotaRush says:

    “About a dozen American doctors do between 1,000 and 2,000 such operations a year, she said.”

    So that means that there could be as many as 24,000 phone numbers that this bachelor would NOT want to get!

    Be careful .. there out there.

  3. proreason says:

    But what if you are multi-sexual?

    Hey, let’s ask Barry!!

  4. MinnesotaRush says:

    ” Looking in the mirror used to make Yiliam Gonzalez sick to her stomach.”

    Howz IT going now????

  5. beautyofreason says:


    So a man in Cuba can still be arrested for having too many bags of concrete or, until recently, owning a dvd player. Yet the government will pay for complex elective surgery to make him appear female?

    I wouldn’t let a doctor near anyone’s private parts in a place where doctors are paid about the same as the local meat butcher.

    I cringe when I hear of all of the Europeans who go to Cuba on vacation, not realizing the sort of government they prop up. Do all of those dissidents appreciate your margaritas with little umbrellas in them? Sigh.

  6. Reality Bytes says:

    Remember when communists just cut your balls off to make a point?

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