- Transgender pastors held a religious service in the chapel in the western Cuban city of Matanzas, a first in the communist-ruled country.
- It was the highlight of three-day conference organized by the Matanzas-based branch of the international Metropolitan Community Church.
- Elaine Saralegui, a lesbian minister who founded the church two years ago, said the conference was hoped to bolster inclusion of transgender people and as evidence that religion and being transgender are compatible.
The first ever transgender Mass was held in Cuba on May 5, 2017, a groundbreaking event in this communist-ruled, macho country where believers who are not heterosexual were stigmatized for decades.
In transgender news stories published by Reuters on May 7, the chapel in the western Cuban city of Matanzas was decorated with rainbow flags as three trans pastors, who flew from Brazil, Canada, and the United States, wore the colors of the transgender community light blue, pink, and white as the congregants swayed to Caribbean music.
The religious service, the highlight of the three-day conference organized by the Matanzas-based branch of the international Metropolitan Community Church and which included talks on transsexuality and theology, marked a significant milestone on how much the island nation has changed in its treatment towards members of the LGBT population.
The conference coincided with the 10th anniversary of the country’s celebration of the day against homophobia around the world. It included discussions on theology and personal experiences, as well as a raucous transformist party.
During the 1959 revolution, adherents to religion and homosexuals were forced into correctional camps.
“Tonight has been a night of celebration of equality between all people, marking a new era for Cuba,” Alexya Salvador, Brazilian trans pastor, said. “God’s love is radically inclusive.”
Salvador claimed that God was transgender as the Holy Trinity was made of the feminine, the Father and the Son.
Malu Duardo, transgender church-goer, said, “I leave with having learnt a lot of things I can share with other trans in particular that there is a God for everyone.”
Additionally, Allyson Robinson, a Baptist reverend and transgender woman from Washington, said, “This is not only a first of its kind event for Cuba, but certainly one of the very first ever to be held anywhere in the world.”
Inclusion and Christian faith
Although the country is yet to allow same-sex marriage or adopt children, the transgender pastors were pleasantly surprised to learn that Cuba is progressive on some fronts, including the state-sponsored sex reassignment surgery.
Elaine Saralegui, a lesbian minister who founded the church two years ago, said the conference was hoped to bolster inclusion of transgender people and as evidence that religion and being transgender are compatible.
“Everyone should have the right to have a family,” said Salvador, who has adopted two children, including a trans girl. “I believe this touch of God will also happen in the Cuban community.”