Pakistan’s first transgender newsreader says she’s ‘overwhelmed’ with support after debut broadcast
A trans woman in Pakistan has made history after being the first transgender person to report on national television.
Marvia Malik made her debut on the Kohenoor news channel last week, which quickly spread across social media and gained international attention.
Speaking after her first broadcast, Malik expressed her thanks for the support and said she was overwhelmed.
“I got a lot of appreciation from those associated with the fashion industry when I did catwalk modelling two weeks back, and now this … it’s quite overwhelming,” she said to Reuters.
“I was thrown out after (10th grade) after which I joined a beauty salon, earned just about enough to put myself through college, but it was not easy. My story is no different from that of a hijra on the street you see begging.”
Transgender people in Pakistan face alarming rates of discrimination and violence, which sadly is often deadly.
Last week the 21-year-old also debuted as the first trans model at Pakistan Fashion Design Council’s annual show shortly before her first broadcast.
Since the show, Malik has had several offers to become a professional model, however she is determined to remain in journalism to advocate for other trans people.
“I have several modelling offers that I’m considering, but I want to do something for my community that I feel is way behind,” she said to Images.
“I want to strengthen my people. Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon.
“But there’s nothing we can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change.”
Speaking to the BBC, Malik spoke out on behalf of other trans people in Pakistan, opening up about her struggle as a trans person.
She said: “The dream that I saw for myself, I was able to climb on the first stair to achieving it.
“Our community should be treated equally and there must not be any gender discrimination. We should be given equal rights and be considered ordinary citizens, instead of third-gender.”
Earlier this year Pakistan made the historic decision to improve the lives of trans people by removing the need for medical approval before transitioning.
Trans people will now be recognised as their gender without requiring consent from a medical board.
They will also now have the same protections to dignity and security as other citizens of Pakistan.
Transgender people in Pakistan will now be defined as “any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth”.
Pakistan has taken several steps towards equality for trans people.
Earlier in October, a Pakistani university offered free education to trans students.
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But despite these moves, violence and sexual attacks on trans people are still common in the Muslim country.
Two other trans women were left brutally beaten when five men broke into the house rented by a group of trans women in the capital, Karachi.
And just a few weeks earlier, a gang of armed men opened fire on a group of trans people.
One trans person was killed in the attack, which was also committed in the capital.