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Time for change

Yiliam Gonzalez is one of eight individuals to undergo a sex change, which are paid for by Cuba’s universal health care system.

Yiliam Gonzalez, left, speaks with her mother, Janeth Anchia, as they clean dishes in a friend's home in Havana on March 5. Gonzalez is one of eight transsexuals to undergo a sex change, paid for by Cuba's universal health care system.

Javier Galeano / AP

Yiliam Gonzalez has her hair done by a stylist in Havana on March 5. She has said that before getting the controversial operation, she hated looking at her own reflection.

Javier Galeano / AP

Janeth Anchia watches her daughter Yiliam Gonzalez get her hair done in Havana. Gonzalez is living proof of a remarkable change taking place in Cuba, a country where, in the 1960s, homosexuals would often be fired from state jobs -- or even imprisoned.

Javier Galeano / AP

Yiliam Gonzalez plays the piano at a neighbors home in Havana. Gonzalez, a 28-year-old wedding pianist, underwent the sex change procedure in 2008.

Javier Galeano / AP

Yiliam Gonzalez attends a ceremony at the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Havana. She was one of eight Cubans to undergo the sex-change operation under a program begun in 1988 — then suspended for two decades, after many complained the communist government had better ways to spend its scarce resources.

Javier Galeano / AP

Yiliam Gonzalez shows her ID showing her former name, William, in Havana. She is currently waiting for permission to legally change her name to Yiliam.

Javier Galeano / AP

Yiliam Gonzalez, second from right, and her mother Janeth Anchia, left, visit with neighbors in Havana. Mariela Castro, Cuba's top gay-rights activist, said recently, "There has been a lot of resistance because homophobia remains strong in our culture."

Javier Galeano / AP