The number of Cuban transsexuals who have had sex-change surgery has risen to 20, according to figures released by Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education, or Cenesex.

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, said that of the 37 people identified as transsexuals in the country, "20 have benefited from genital adaptation surgery," according to a note posted Friday on the official Cenesex Web site.

Castro announced the figures during the 3rd Transidentity, Gender and Culture Symposium in Havana, with the participation of Cuba, France and Argentina.

In 2008 the Cuban government passed a ministerial decree permitting sex-change operations in Cuba, which had only one precedent, a man-to-woman surgery in 1988.

That same year it was announced that some 30 transsexuals could benefit from the procedure for free if they wanted it, which launched on the island the practice of masculinization and feminization surgeries before sex-change operations, provided by a team counseled by Belgian specialists.

The latest figures released by Cenesex to the press in 2010 said that about 15 surgeries had been performed, following an express policy not to reveal the costs nor the exact number of people operated until the goal of 30 is reached.

In May, Mariela Castro said the surgery program will continue with the operation in 2012 of a group of "men who identify themselves as women," whose number she did not specify. EFE