Pakistan’s First Transgender News Anchor

Marvia Malik in action on TV Source: RFE/RL There are few certainties in this world, but one certainty you can put money on is that times change. The world moves forward; things once seen as taboo become acceptable, such as online casino games being easily accessible via mobile phones, tattoos in the workplace, inter-racial marriage and women in pants! But many of these leaps forward can often even be largely overlooked. In Pakistan, however, the social media networks exploded with virtually everyone in the country sitting up and taking notice. Why? Because on March 23rd the country took its own giant leap forward. The country saw its first transgender news anchor go live, something that has never before happened in the country. And, of course, it was not just the people of Pakistan that took notice. The landmark event quickly went viral, and it wasn’t long before Marvia Malik became a hot topic across the globe.

A Landmark Event

It was at Kohenoor News, a Lahore based channel, that Marvia took centre stage. She did a sterling job as a first time news anchor, and says she is pleased with the global attention she is receiving. Perhaps a great deal more attention than your average news anchor gets, which certainly spells a bright future for the surprisingly young journalism graduate. But, naturally, it is not all just about fame and success for 21 year old Marvia. She stated that she hopes to be a role model for other transgender people in Pakistan, and she certainly will be, if the widespread attention she is receiving is anything to go by. Marvia went on to say that she aimed to show her country that transgender people are not objects of ridicule, but instead highly capable, professionals who are capable of any job.

Transgenderism In Pakistan

In Pakistan, the transgender community came in at about 10,000 people, after an official census was taken in 2017. This is a small number, given that the total population in the area of about 200 million. Though, it has been said that transgender people in the area may well have felt afraid to admit their position, given perceived attitudes in the area. This, of course, is why a role model such as Marvia is so important. It was only earlier this month that a bill finally passed in Pakistan, officially protecting the rights of the transgender community. A long overdue bill, many have said. The bill detailed changes in law that allowed transgender people to change their listed gender on their identity cards, as well as to inherit property, passed to them. But perhaps most notable of all, the bill stated that transgender people could not be discriminated against, if seeking seats in office.

A Step In the Right Direction

Many across the world have praised the appearance of Marvia as a news anchor. But, Marvia says that much still needs to be done for the transgender community in Pakistan. The recent new bill was indeed a giant leap forward in the right direction, but that this is only the first step in changing attitudes in the country. Bilal Ashraf, the man responsible for putting Marvia in her position as a news anchor agreed, stating that he aims to make the news channel the most progressive in the country. In a statement Bilal said that he supports the dreams of all people, whatever they may be, and whatever they seek in life. He went on to say that much talent is overlooked, and simply discarded, simply because of biases in society. In the case of Marvia, however, he hopes to make her talent a shining light for all.

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