Pakistani makes history as countrys first trans newsreader
Marvia Malik, 21, was 'disowned' by family but went on to become catwalk model
A Pakistani journalist has become the country’s first transgender newsreader, after being “disowned” by her family in a country where discrimination remains common.
Marvia Malik, 21, made her debut appearance on the Kohenoor TV news channel days after becoming the first transgender model on the catwalk at a prominent fashion show held annually by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council.
Transgender people face severe discrimination in Pakistan and many struggle to find jobs.
Many “hijras” – a term given to transgender people, intersex people and eunuchs – have been attacked, murdered, and raped in the country, as well as other South Asian nations such as India and Bangladesh. Many are forced to work as sex workers, dancers, or beggars.
However, campaigners say there are signs of progress in the conservative South Asian nation, where homosexuality is a crime.
Ms Malik, 21, said she had received an “overwhelming” positive response after footage of her first appearance on the local TV channel went viral.
Her catapult into the spotlight came after transgender activist Zara Changezi was named as star of a romance film, the Senate passed a bill to protect transgender people, and a Pakistani province agreed to allow “X” as a gender on driving licences.
Ms Malik said she had lost count of the phone calls and messages congratulating her on her new role, a major contrast to years in which she battled simply to survive after being shunned by her family.
“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 told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“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.”
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Malik added: “My family knows I have modelled and they know that I work as a newscaster. It’s the age of social media and there’s nothing that my family doesn’t know. But they have still disowned me.”
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