Transit Havana

Director: Daniel Abma
2016 | Cuba, Germany, Netherlands | 88m
GENRE: Aging/Elders | Female-to-Male | Gender | Health/Medicine | Latino/a | Male-to-Female | Politics | Sex Work | Transgender
SECTION: Documentary


Each year in Cuba, five people are selected for gender-confirmation surgery, leaving many more waiting for their opportunity. Daniel Abma’s documentary Transit Havana follows three Cubans over a year of anticipation and challenges, some related to the surgery and some related to daily life. In a distinctive environment, themes of self-acceptance and fulfillment are universal.

Both celebratory and, at times, difficult, the film portrays the connected but vastly different lives of Juani, Malú, and Odette. Juani, the self-identified “first transsexual of Cuba,” was an original patient in the government-run program, but he hopes for an additional chance to improve his medical transition. Malú, a community advocate and educator for trans rights and inclusion, is known and largely accepted by her community, yet she has waited years to be selected. Odette, a former military tank operator who is now a goatherd, struggles to align her own sense of self with the vehement intolerance of her family and church—a conflict that threatens her chances for surgery.

Transit Havana also touches on Mariela Castro in her role as Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Castro’s drive to integrate trans people into all aspects of Cuban society is the political force behind the surgical program, as well as a manifestation of her vision of inclusive human rights. Interspersed with shots of Havana life, this film explores the complexities of culture and desire as the three subjects wait to hear if this is their year.


El/La Para Trans Latinas / Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement / Galería de la RazaLyon-Martin Health Services, a program of HealthRIGHT 360