Head of travesti/trans refuge in Buenos Aires murdered by partner

Diana Zoe López García was the president of Hotel Gondolín, which houses travesti/trans people from across Argentina and South America

At 1:30 a.m., the white gate to the Hotel Gondolín is open. Hushed voices express disbelief amid the bustle of making empanadas for everyone. An icon of this Villa Crespo refuge for the travesti/trans community, Diana Zoe López García, was pronounced dead hours earlier. 

“We had two institutional events today and were having a drink afterward when around 8 p.m. two of Zoe’s colleagues arrived and we found out that she had been attacked,” Leticia Flores, who has worked at El Gondo for 12 years, told the Herald. “We got in touch with people at the public defender’s office and they told us she had been stabbed by her partner and bled to death.”

Buenos Aires Police told the Herald that López García’s partner stabbed her in the groin area on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. in the Balvanera neighborhood. She lost consciousness and he called emergency services himself. Paramedics later pronounced her dead. Her partner is currently in detention at the 11th Criminal Court charged with homicide. The charges could be elevated to aggravated homicide because of her identity as a trans woman (known as transfemicidio) according to news agency Télam.  

López García, or tía Zoe, was a well-known trans activist who had fought for the Hotel Gondolín to become a community refuge since 1996. It became a civil association in 2003 and houses travestis from across the country and Latin America. El Gondo has survived many eviction attempts and attacks since it became a housing cooperative, including a fire that destroyed one of the bedrooms in 2022.

“We’ve never been recognized by social workers nor do we seek to be. That’s what differentiates us from other state institutions,” said Flores. “We’ve done everything ourselves independently and Zoe was part of that transparency.”

Thanks to the Diana Sacayán-Lohana Berkins Travesti-Transgender Job Quota Law, López García began working at the Casa Rosada’s canteen in 2021. The law mandates that one percent of public sector jobs should be held by members of the community

Unlike its direct English translation, travesti in Argentina is a gender identity with deep political roots that is worn with pride.

López García’s death has sent shockwaves through the community, with the Hotel Gondolín asking for respect during this difficult time. Flores told the Herald that they were waiting for the family to arrive from Salta province before making any decisions. 

“The ideal for us would be to hold the wake here in the Gondolín, which was her home, her space of resistance and raising awareness,” said Flores. “Which was exactly the way she wanted it.”

Diana Zoe López García. Photo courtesy of Leticia Flores.

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