Islamabad: A Pakistani news channel has hired the country’s first transgender TV newsreader.
Marvia Malik, a journalism graduate who has also worked as a model, told the BBC Urdu she was moved to tears when she was offered the job.
She anchored her first show on private broadcaster Kohenoor TV on Friday, after three months of training. Transgenders face discrimination in Pakistan and many struggle to find work. Some are forced into begging, dancing or prostitution to earn money.
Malik told the BBC she had to stop herself from screaming with joy when she learnt she had got the job. “The dream that I saw for myself, I was able to climb on the first stair to achieving it,” she said.
Malik said she hoped her work would help improve the lives of Pakistan’s transgender community.
“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, (not as) third gender.”
The owner of Kohenoor, Junaid Ansari, told Voice Of America that Malik was selected on merit, not on gender issues.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Senate voted to support a bill protecting the rights of transgender people and allowing them to determine their own gender identity.