(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor, Marvia Malik is proud to be at the forefront of changing her country’s attitude, but she says there is still a long way to go.
News of her debut on Saturday at Kohenoor TV was circulating on social media and became the first cross-fashion model to be seen at Pakistan’s annual Fashion Design Commission’s annual fashion show.
After transsexual activist Zara Changezi was named star of the love movie, the Senate passed a bill to protect transgender people, and after a Pakistani province agreed to use the X gender on a driver’s license, her catapult became the focus.
Malik, 21, said she had lost the positive phone calls and news she had received in her new role. This contrasts with a major comparison she had struggled for in previous years.
“I got a lot of admiration from people involved in the fashion industry when I took a catwalk model two weeks ago, and now this is… incredible,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I was thrown out after (Grade 10), and then I joined a beauty salon to earn my college education, but it wasn’t easy. My story and what I saw on the street What is different. “.
In Pakistan and other South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh, many “hijras” including transvestites, transgender people and eunuchs have been attacked, murdered, raped or forced to be sex workers, dancers or prostitutes.
Although transgender people technically enjoy better rights in Pakistan than many other countries, they are actually marginalized and face discrimination in education and employment.
However, activists say that homosexuality in South Asian countries is a sign of crime.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the national identity card could be considered as a “third sex”. Last year, the government issued its first passport, which includes a transgender category.
Last year, transgender people were first counted in the national census, with a population of about 207 million, but the number of people with a low population was 10,418. Charity Transgender Pakistan estimates that there are at least 500,000 transgender people in the country.
‘X’ means transgender
Earlier this month, the Senate unanimously passed a bill to protect the rights of transgender people. Once these rights pass through the two houses, it means that transgender people will no longer need to appear before the medical committee to confirm their gender.
At the same time, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan’s four provinces, had a series of attacks against transgender people in 2016 and issued driving licenses to trans people.
“Acquiring a driver’s license is not only a proof of identity, it will also open up another livelihood avenue, for example, to find a job at a taxi company,” Qamar Naseem of Blue Veins in Peshawar said, providing lobbying for transgender people.
One middle educator and doctor, Sana Yasir, said Pakistan’s tolerance for transgender people is getting higher and higher, but it is not universally accepted that many people confuse gender identity with sexual orientation.
“(People) think trans is to mean that a person has a certain orientation and uses hatred of homosexuals and then shows their transphobic behavior,” Yasir said.
Although Malik is pleased that the government is slowly introducing the community into the mainstream, she said that if “the transformation starts with the family”, the only way is to obtain meaningful changes.
She said: “We must tell parents not to be ashamed that the child does not meet the gender assigned at birth,” she added, and the transgender people are often driven away by their families.
“We have no choice but to ask for help, dance and sell our bodies.”