Meet the first-ever transgender news anchor from Pakistan

Lahore: A local news channel in Pakistan has claimed to have made history by hiring the country’s first transgender news anchor.

The channel, Kohenoor News, for the first time in its 10 years, relaunched on Friday with an elaborate ‘welcoming ceremony’, where it announced the hiring of the transgender news anchor Marvia Malik, a first in Pakistan media’s history.

Malik has a bachelors degree in journalism and has now applied for admission to the same field to a masters of arts programme. She claims to have read the basics of journalism and civics and has already dabbled in modelling, The Dawn reported.

She recently made headlines by walking the runway at the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) fashion week in Lahore earlier this month.

“I have several modelling offers that I’m considering, but I want to do something for my community that I feel is way behind. So I want to strengthen my people. Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon. But there’s nothing we can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change. Just as I created history in the fashion industry, I want to do the same in the media industry,” Malik said.

The news anchor wanted to become either a journalist or a lawyer and did not want to end up where her fellow transgenders do – dancing on the streets, begging and trafficking.

Malik underscored that she has faced abuse of all kinds. However, she asserted that such things made her a stronger person and were determined to make a name for herself during her two-year intermediate from a boys’ college.

She strongly feels the transgender community has not been supported despite several tall claims by authorities.

“Pakistan has been independent for so long, yet we don’t have the same rights as any other individual in the country. Only claims have been made and promises of quota in government jobs, but nothing has come out of it,” Malik scoffed.

In her next move, Malik plans to country-wide law making mandatory for families to give transgender persons their share in property as a boy or girl is.

“Transgenders are forced to dance and beg because they have no other means to make ends meet. When they are shunned by families, they have nowhere else to go. My trans friends who have masters degrees don’t have jobs which is why they end up on streets or become sex workers. This is why I want to push for a law so a transgender if disowned, can make a living out of the share in the property,” she further said.

Commenting on the job at Kohenoor News and the experience so far, Malik said that she applied when positions were advertised, whereby she came in for an interview over three months ago and was hired the same day.

“The channel management told me the same day they wanted to support me and my community and help us get our rights and an honourable place in society. The three-month training also went like a breeze because everyone is so friendly, loving and helpful. It feels like home here at work; I feel they’re all my family because I never got a family’s love. Even the experienced anchors helped me a lot,” Malik added.

Kohenoor News’ director Bilal Ashraf said that he wanted to relaunch the channel with a different approach and work for social causes instead of depending on the monotonous formula other channels are employing.

The channel’s CEO, Junaid Mahmood Ansari, added that while he had never planned to take such an initiative, the job application that they received from Malik, changed his mind and he did not see a reason why a deserving person like Malik should be appointed if she had fulfilled the criteria.