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After the surgery, they had no problem getting married.

Ana's finally happy in her own skin, but something is still missing.

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The Atlantic Philanthropies

From the secret smiles, effortless laughs and public displays of affection, Ana and Abel don't hold back.

Watching them interact, there's no doubt they're in love.


But they weren't always this free.

Although Ana and Abel dated for nearly a decade before getting married, holding hands in the middle of Havana is brand new to them.

You see, Ana Rafaela Díaz Gómez was born in 1979. Her legal documents put her gender as male.

"In that time not much was known about this. Society rejected it, homosexuality and the like." — Ana

Date night wasn't always fun.

"We were more or less marginalized. There were many people who treated us badly ... the police. We could go out and it wasn't good because I was dressed as a woman." — Ana

Socializing wasn't the only problem. Finding a job was rough too.

"Society didn't see me in a good light when I was dressed as a woman but officially a man. So I'm a homemaker. My husband is the one who works." — Ana

But in 2008, things shifted for Ana and lots of Cubans who weren't living fully as themselves.

Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, is a huge supporter of LGBT rights. She saw the movement gaining momentum in Havana. In order to kickstart change, Mariela "persuaded the government in recent years to offer state-paid gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatment for transgender people," according to the New York Times.

Castro's new initiative gave Ana an opportunity to have the surgery she'd always wanted.

"There's no going back on it. You have to be sure it's what you want. I had the operation two years ago." — Ana

Although the Cuban government supports gender reassignment surgery, it doesn't allow same-sex marriages. Still, Ana's ability to legally become a woman was life-changing for her and Abel.

"A few years ago, this didn't exist. There was a lot of discrimination. Now I feel much better. I see that she feels good. So I do." — Abel

"When I was able to change my identity, we were legally married. Like regular, heterosexual people. It was complicated, but we did it. ... I met him eight years ago, before I had my surgery. He liked me how I am, like a person." — Ana

Now that Ana and Abel are living the newlywed life, babies are on the brain.

"I have my husband. I have my house. I think I have the right conditions to have a kid. But in terms of adoption, no. That's something we're still not able to do ... it is something that is still new in this country."

Out of 23 select Caribbean and Latin American countries, only 5 allow LGBTQQ people to adopt kids.

Although some change is happening in Cuba, like plenty of other places, they've still got miles to go.

To watch Ana's full story, check it out below:

Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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For months, government officials, school administrators, teachers and parents have debated the best and safest way to handle educating kids during the global coronavirus pandemic. While some other countries have been able to resume schooling relatively well with safety measures in place, outbreaks in the U.S. are too uncontrolled to safely get kids back in the classroom.

But that hasn't stopped some school districts from reopening schools in person anyway.

Photos have emerged from the first day of school at two districts in Georgia that have people scratching their heads and posing obvious questions like "Um, they know we're in a pandemic, right?"

One photo shows high school students crowded in a hallway in Paulding County, Georgia. Of the dozens of students pictured, the number wearing masks can be counted on one hand. It's like looking straight into a petri dish.

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Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

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