Pakistan's first transgender news anchor makes TV debut

Marvia Malik is Pakistan's first transgender news anchor.
Marvia Malik is Pakistan's first transgender news anchor. Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Pakistan's first transgender news anchor has made her TV hosting debut.

Marvia Malik, 21, appeared on local channel Kohenoor TV on Saturday (local time) causing a social media storm.

She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the positive response to her TV appearance has been "overwhelming", and that she's lost count of the number of congratulatory phone calls and text messages she's received.

"I got a lot of appreciation from those associated with the fashion industry when I did catwalk modelling two weeks back, and now this," she said.

In another ground-breaking achievement, Ms Malik became the first transgender model to feature in the annual Pakistan Fashion Design Council fashion show.

But her life hasn't been free of discrimination and hardship; she was thrown out of her family home as a teenager because of her identity.

"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," she said, referring to the South Asian term for transgender and intersex people.

Although Pakistani laws give them more rights than many other countries, in reality many hijras are raped or murdered, or have to turn to sex work or begging.

In 2009, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled that people could identify as a 'third sex' on their national ID Cards, and in March 2018 the Senate unanimously approved a bill protecting the rights of transgender people.

Ms Malik told Thomson Reuters that people have to practise acceptance in their own homes before society can change.

"We have to tell parents not to be ashamed of their kids who cannot conform to the sex assigned at birth."


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