Man Marries Trans Woman in Cuba, Media Doesn’t Get It


In what is thought to be a first for the country, a man and a transexual woman married in Cuba on Saturday, also the day of Fidel Castro’s 85th birthday. The media, however, seems to be struggling with the particulars.

First more on the happy day from the Associated Press:

The bride, Wendy Iriepa, 37, arrived at the wedding hall in Havana in a full white gown, with flowers in her hair and holding a rainbow flag. Inside, a public notary joined the couple in a brief civil ceremony and the newlyweds kissed to cheers from friends and family.

“This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man,” said the 31-year-old groom, Ignacio Estrada. “We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba.”


Estrada, in recent comments to the US-based Radio Marti, called the marriage a “birthday present to Fidel Castro to remind him of the atrocities he committed against the Cuban gay community, above all in the 1960s.”

Castro, who turned 85 on Saturday, has expressed regret in recent years for the treatment of gay people during that period.

Does Ignacio and Wendy’s wedding deserve to make the news given that it is effectively just another heterosexual wedding? In one respect yes. As noted above, their wedding is believed to be the first time a woman who was birth-assigned male has married a male partner in Cuba, so it is notable as a quiet milestone in terms of marriage equality for Cuba’s transexual population.

A linked area of interest may also be that same-sex marriage is still not legal in Cuba, so while this may be seen as a small step toward acceptance for the LGBT community, heteronormative restrictions still persist.

It’s also notable in one other regard: certain elements of the media can’t quite seem to fathom the details of this wedding.

Many have labeled this Cuba’s first gay wedding. It is not. Under Cuban law Wendy Iriepa is legally recognized as a woman after having state-backed gender reassignment surgery in 2007 under the pilot scheme that saw gender change treatment incorporated into the country’s universal healthcare program. Also, despite the fact that Ignacio is a prominent dissident gay rights activist, the fact that he has previously identified himself as a gay man doesn’t change the fact that this is a heterosexual wedding.

Wendy, interviewed here for Euronews, says she’s very much in love and isn’t enjoying the politicization of her happy day. The fact that she arrived in a top-down car waving a gay rights flag may perhaps suggest otherwise, but there’s no reason the event can’t be both.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Related Reading:
U.N. Approves Resolution Against Anti-Gay Discrimination
Cuba’s First Gender Reassigned Transexual Battles Sexism
Malaysian Gay Pastor: Keep Coming Out


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to PhotoComX.


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Tony C.
Tony C6 years ago

The part that confuses me is why would Ignacio, a gay man marry a woman? It seems to replicate the pressures gay men have always been under to marry into miserable, sexless relationships with hostage wives to placate homophobic societies.
I understand the political messages underlying the marriage but I think they will be too sophisticated for most people to grasp. It may have been a clearer message in support of trans rights if Wendy had married a straight man. But she says she loves him, and I have no idea what their relationship really entails (presumably it will be an open one) so I wish them all happiness. But I can see how many would be confused over how this is a leap forward for gay rights.

Leslea Herber
Leslea Herber6 years ago

The big issue is that Cuba is far socially progressive in allowing a Trans woman to marry into a hetero relationship with her partner, than many states in the USA are.

In the US, the instant money comes into the picture, should a TS person be widowed, it's amazing how often the judges declare her gender into question, and declare the marriage invalid because of the HATRED of gay marriage. Suddenly other family gets monies and inheritances they don't deserve and which the dead partner specifically kept from them, all for institutional hatred of anything even hinting at "gay". Wills have been overturned because of this institutionalized hatred and TS women have been victimized by the system again & again & again.

ONLY same sex marriage being legalized, protects a TS woman in a hetero marriage.

Lets hope that in Cuba, they don't have a repeat of what the US judges allow, should anything happen.

In the meantime, my hope is that Wendy & Ignacio have a wonderful life together & people get over their ignorance & stupidity when talking about them.

Danielle K.
Danielle K6 years ago

Wendy Iriepa is legally a woman. She has had transgender surgery and is recognized as a woman, even if she was born a male. Ignacio Estrada is a man (who apparently identifies as gay). This is an opposite-sex wedding, no matter how you spin it, and it's not terribly newsworthy. It's also not the first time someone who identifies as gay marries a transgender person of the opposite sex (I know a lesbian who married a transman).

And Empress, as long as children are raised in a loving and supportive home, the sex or sexual orientation of the parents should not matter.

Lepidopter Phoenyx

Empress, if they choose to add children to their family, the kids will have a mother and a father.

Jessica O.
Jessica O6 years ago

If they are happy who cares.

Sara T.
Sara T6 years ago

This is great. I am happy for them. As long as their is love in a relationship it doesn't matter who or what sex is getting married.

Emma Peach
Emma Peach6 years ago

@ Empress G - There is something obviously wrong with you - If they decide to have kids either through surrogacy or adoption the child will have 2 loving parents. That better than most families already. Whether they were 2 men or 1 man and one "transgender" woman - or for arguments sake two women... it's people like you that keep the world stuck in the past!!

Silvia v.

I have lived in Cuba for 11 years and personally know Wendy before she got her operation.
She is the most loving person and a fears animal protector. One day we spayed about 30 stray dogs and she spent the entire day helping us with the dogs coming back from anestesia etc.
I am so happy for her !!!!!

Hilary A.
Hilary S6 years ago

an interesting and strange place, cuba. in some ways its social changes have evolved in isolation from the rest of the world, making it both recognisable and unique. visitors describe a feeling of the 1950s.