Adela Hernandez, 48, poses for a photo in her home in the village of Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)AP2012
Adela Hernandez, 48, center, poses with her neighbors in the village of Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Hernandez, a biologically male Cuban who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for "dangerousness" after her own family denounced her sexuality. This month she made history by becoming the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)AP2012
A transgender who lives as a woman in a central Cuban village said her election to local office is the "biggest victory" possible over all the "repudiation" she has suffered in her 48 years.
In local elections this month in the central town of Caibarien, Jose Agustin Hernandez, who now goes by the name Adela, won the post of delegate to the Municipal Assemblies of Popular Power, something unprecedented for a transgender on the island, according to some Cuban activists.
"My two rivals were officials of that assembly, and I'm just somebody from the street, an openly gay person who has felt like a woman since I was born and who was injected with female hormones three years ago," Hernandez, who works as an electrocardiogram technician at a hospital, told Efe.
She said her victory in the elections fills her with "pride" and shows that now "there is more acceptance" on the Communist-ruled island.
"This is one more challenge to help overcome the pain I've carried inside me for so long and that began with my family rejecting me. I always did what I chose in society - they didn't want me to dress as a woman, the cops sneered at me, but I kept doing it, and I've got people to respect me as I am," she said.
Her neighbors and voters, she said, are her "family," and she has a "duty" to them to at least make sure the authorities fix the problems of street lighting and the streets being flooded all the time.
"My community accepts me as I am and that's my victory, I tell things the way they are and I'm going to seek justice for them," she said.
Around the neighborhood, where some speak of "him" and others of "her," most of the locals asked by Efe complained of the authorities' neglect and believe that Hernandez is the right delegate because she is not afraid to say what she feels.
For now, Hernandez believes that "Cuban society is more advanced" and for that she is thankful for the work of the National Sex Education Center, or Cenesex, directed by Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro.