A ray of hope for the LGBT community in Pakistan and a step forward for the progress of the country is 21 year old journalist, Marvia Malik who is the first trans news anchor.
Pakistan’s social networks were buzzing with Marvia Malik’s first on-air appearance on the March 23 and in the days since she’s gone viral across Facebook and Twitter, with many lauding the move as progress for transgender rights in Pakistan.
Malik, a trainee anchor at Lahore-based channel Kohenoor News, is pleased with the attention that she’s received but insists more needs to be done when it comes to improving the lives of Pakistan’s transgender community.
A graduate of journalism from Punjab University, Malik told CNN she applied for the position since she wanted to prove that people from the transgender community “are capable of any job, and can do anything they want.”
“I thought that our transgender community was lagging behind in education and jobs, and they are not strong enough politically,” she said. “So I wanted to do something for my community.”
Many transgender individuals in Pakistan live in secluded communities and have no choice but to beg on the streets or sing and dance at private parties to earn a living. Some also turn to prostitution to make ends meet.
Malik was disowned by her family when she was 16, following years of being forced to dress and act like a boy.
She sought a different route for herself, so she trained and found work as a makeup artist to fund her journalism degree at Punjab University.Through her connections in the beauty industry, she landed a modeling job and became the talk of the town.
The story of her life, and her demeanor, impressed the selection panel at Kohenoor News, which hired her as a trainee anchor.
Kohenoor Chief Executive Junaid Mehmood Ansari says he had apprehensions about Malik going on air, but his worries were put to rest by social media praise for his efforts to promote transgender people after her first appearance, on March 23.
Recent legislation has made clear that transgender individuals in Pakistan are guaranteed all the citizens’ rights enshrined in its constitution, with national identity cards providing for a category of “third gender”.
But not all Pakistanis are so accepting.
“This new transgender thing is the influence of Western culture, and this is totally wrong,” said Ayaz Khan, a resident of the southern commercial hub of Karachi.
Trans Action Pakistan, a campaign group, estimates there are at least 500,000 transgender people among Pakistan’s population of 208 million.
More power to you Ms. Marvia Malik, you represent a more hopeful future not only to the trans individuals of Pakistan but all over the world.