The transgender actress who starred in “A Fantastic Woman” will travel to Cuba next month for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
The National Center for Sexual Education — the group known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX that Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, directs — on Wednesday announced on its Facebook page that Daniela Vega will participate in IDAHOT events that will take place in Havana and in the city of Pinar del Río.
The announcement did not indicate the specific events in which Vega will participate. The announcement did include a picture of her wearing a red t-shirt with the hashtag “Cubavsbloqueo” that highlights opposition to the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
“The Chilean Dani Vega is not only a fantastic woman, but also a very brave woman,” wrote Francisco Rodríguez Cruz, a gay Cuban blogger and CENESEX-affiliated activist who writes under the pen name Paquito el de Cuba, on his Facebook page.
“A Fantastic Woman” last month won the Oscar for best foreign film. Vega is also the first openly trans person who presented at the annual awards ceremony.
“A Fantastic Woman” has reignited debate over a trans rights bill in Chile. Vega earlier this month requested a meeting with Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago, after he spoke against the measure that is currently before lawmakers in the South American country.
Supporters of Mariela Castro, who is a member of Cuba’s National Assembly, note trans people have been able to obtain free sex-reassignment surgery under the country’s national health care system since 2008. They also point out she voted against a 2013 proposal that banned discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation because it did not include gender identity.
Independent LGBT rights activists in Cuba with whom the Washington Blade has spoken have said only a few dozen people have been able to undergo sex-reassignment surgery in the country. Mariela Castro last May told reporters during a Havana press conference that 35 people have had the procedure in Cuba.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.