Full title: Transit Havana: New Heroes of the Cuban Revolution. Each year, a team of doctors from Belgium and the Netherlands travels to Cuba to perform five gender-confirmation surgeries. At the time this film was produced, 27 people had received the surgery and 19 more were on the waiting list. We meet three of those 46 people: Juani, the first “official” Cuban transsexual; Malú (pictured, right), an activist and educator; and Odette, still on the military reserve rolls as an artillery specialist, but now herding goats. Juani lives a sparse life with his brother, hoping for an improvement on his bottom surgery and also hoping maybe someday that a woman will enter his life. Malú is involved with CENESEX, the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, where she works alongside Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Raúl Castro, who is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights in Cuba. Odette is honestly a little crazy, no doubt the result of being caught between her past in the military, her deeply traditional family, and an antipathetic church.
We follow these three as they await the decision of the committee that determines who this year’s lucky five patients will be. As luck would have it, we also see the reaction in Cuba to the decision by President Obama and President Castro to significantly realign U.S.-Cuba relations; it happens that I watched the film the same day that President Cheeto-face announced his decision to reverse most of that policy change. The transgender Cubans on the waiting list have resigned themselves to be patient, hoping that some day their turn will come; likewise, they must wait and hope that some day the United States comes to its senses.
It’s an interesting peek into life in Cuba, and particularly into aspects of Cuban society that are nearly invisible to us in the United States. Worth seeing, highly recommended.
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