Meet Argentina’s First Transgender News Anchor

"My presence challenges society," says Diana Zurco.

Above: Diana Zurco (third from left) with her station’s team of newscasters.

One transgender woman just made television history in Argentina.

Diana Zurco, an activist and former beauty salon employee, has become the South American nation’s first openly trans news anchor, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. At 40, Zurco, a native Argentinian, recently assumed her new role as a newscaster for her country’s public television station, noting that her presence as a trans woman on TV “challenges society.”

The news anchor recalled studying at a Catholic school until the age of 17, when she refused to be deadnamed or misgendered and stood up to school officials. Priests running the school wouldn’t let her grow out her hair or go by her preferred name, and Zurco was expelled a year before graduation. She went on to work in a hair salon, later working in an office and studying to pass a certification exam among 1,500 other applicants to become a newscaster.

Now, she hopes her public-facing role will inspire other LGBTQ people and challenge prejudices.

Official figures from the country’s government put the average life expectancy of a transgender person in Argentina at just 41 years. And in the first six month of 2019 alone, more than half of the 68 reported hate crimes against Argentina’s LGBTQ community were motivated by anti-transgender bias.

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#Ensayos Quiero agradecer a todos por la infinidad de mensajes que recibí y que sigo recibiendo. Realmente son muchísimos y desde todo el país. Por este motivo pido disculpas por no poder responder en tiempo y forma a cada uno, incluso a tantísimos medios de comunicación que pidieron entrevistas. Estoy muy agradecida por el interés que despertó la noticia (adelantado por algunos sitios/portales informativos) de mi llegada a la Televisión Pública . Seré una de las conductoras del noticiero central junto a un gran equipo de profesionales. Desde el canal se trabaja intensamente para el lanzamiento. La pasión empleada se vuelve prudencial, algo lógico en el armado de todo producto comunicacional y ni hablar en el de un noticiero con toda la responsabilidad que conlleva. Por eso aquí estamos, preparándonos para ustedes. Muy pronto estaremos al aire para toda la Argentina. Aclaro que hoy no es el estreno. MUCHAS GRACIAS A TODOS Y TODAS por tantos saludos de afecto. ✨❤️✨

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“[My role] is an invitation to society that says: ’This is me; behind me there are more people like me who want to express themselves. We are capable, we can study, we can train ourselves, we can communicate to you what is happening in our country,'” Zurco told AP.

In a statement to the newswire, Rosario Lufrano, president of Radio and Television Argentina, said the organization “didn’t look for Diana because she was a trans announcer.”

“We looked for her because she was a very good professional,” Lufrano said. “The only way to get there is to have the doors opened for you. We all know how difficult it is for these women to win a spot.”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.