Government moves with the times on sex changes

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(10 Mar 2010)
Havana, Cuba – 9 March 2010
1. Travelling shot of Yiliam Gonzalez walking in Old Havana
2. Various of people walking in street, couple taking pictures
3. Zoom out of Gonzalez walking as men stare at her
4. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Yiliam Gonzalez, Cuban undergone government-funded sex change:
“It was hard for me to look at myself in the mirror. I hardly ever did that because it was demeaning. My body did not correspond to my psyche.”
5. STILL of Yiliam as a toddler ++MUTE++
6. STILL of Yiliam as a young boy ++MUTE++
7. Close of Cuban ID with Gonzalez” original first name (William) ++MUTE++
8. Close of Gonzalez” hands
9. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Yiliam Gonzalez, Cuban undergone government-funded sex change:
“I said: ”Mom, don”t worry about it. If something happens to me or I die during the operation, just know that I will die happy.””
FILE: Havana, Cuba – 16 May, 2009
10. Various of gay rights parade
11. Close of the director of Cuba”s Centre for Sexual Education and the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, Mariela Castro (in centre, wearing white) dancing with revellers
12. Mid of parade
13. Woman hanging up Cuban flag
14. People sitting under tent
15. Tilt down from man fanning himself to condom packages on table
16. Transvestites holding small flags
17. SOUNDBITE: (English) Ricardo Alarcon, President of Cuban National Assembly:
“Last year we had this meeting and a lot of things have been made in terms of education, in terms of reflection in general, around the questions of diversity. I think it”s an ongoing process and so far successful.”
Havana, Cuba – 9 March 2010
18. Various of Gonzalez and her mother walking in neighbourhood
19. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Yiliam Gonzalez, Cuban undergone government-funded sex change:
“I very felt very bad. I was in a depressive state. I would cry and cry. I felt like a prisoner in my own body.”
20. Tilt up from bracelet to necklace
21. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Yiliam Gonzalez, Cuban undergone government-funded sex change:
“After the operation, I found out what sexual fullness was and to not be afraid and give myself wholly, never having to hide anything.”
22. Close of hands playing “My Way” on piano
23. Close of Gonzalez as she plays piano
24. Mid of Gonzalez at piano
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, from the revolution of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and a band of bearded rebels, who long punished gays and transsexuals, but now are paying for sex changes.
Standing six feet (183 centimetres) tall, with shoulder-length blonde hair, carrying 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 programme 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.
Cuba won”t say how much its sex change costs.

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