Diana Zurco made her debut on Televisión Pública in Argentina on Monday (YouTube/Televisión Pública Noticias)
Argentina just reached a major milestone for equality with its first ever transgender news anchor Diana Zurco.
This week, the 40-year-old journalist became co-anchor for the primetime news programme Televisión Pública, on the national public broadcasting station.
She hopes her visible presence on TV screens across Argentina will serve as vital representation in a country where the average life expectancy of trans people is just 41 years, roughly half that of the general population.
“My presence challenges society,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.
“It 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.'”
Rosario Lufrano, president of Radio and Television Argentina, said that it was Zurco’s professionalism that secured her the job.
“We didn’t look for Diana Zurco because she was a trans announcer. We looked for her because she was a very good professional,” he 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.”
Argentina’s government estimates that the country has between 12,000 and 13,000 transgender adults out of a population that exceeds 44 million.
Legislative changes such as the Gender Identity Law of 2012 are making life easier for Argentina’s transgender population, but opportunities are still few, and until now the only transgender women on Argentine television have largely been limited to entertainment programmes or soap operas.
“It is a small group and ordinary people don’t know a trans firsthand. This lack of connection in daily life fuels prejudice and discrimination,” said Esteban Paulón, executive director of the Institute for LGBT+ Public Policies.
He’s hopeful that Zurco’s presence as a newscaster “will let prejudiced society begin to see that trans people are like everyone else.”