Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro, is a top gay-rights activist who runs the National Sexual Education Center. This organization has worked hard to influence the government and achieved the lift of the ban on sex-change operations in 2008. Mariela continues to fight for the formal recognition of transsexuals in Cuba. She says others "don't know what a person who is trannsexual suffers. It's a prison you can't get out of."
Now the Cuban government pays for a few sex-change operations every year. Some of the controversy over this fact has stemmed from religious beliefs, although Cuba is officially atheist. Another source of controversy is the presence of homophobia in the Cuban culture. Some Cubans remain shocked or outraged that the government would allow these operations, much less pay for them. However, the main controversy comes from the fact that Cuba has limited resources and many citizens feel sex-changes should not be a goverment expense.
While there are diagreements about the government's involvement, it is apparent that Cuba is moving on from come of its old ways. Former President Fidel Castro said, "I'd like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that's being overcome. Old prejudices and narrowmindedness will increasingly be things of the past."