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

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.

The news of her first appearance on local channel Kohenoor TV on Saturday, 24 March, went viral on social media and was just days after she became the first transgender model to catwalk at the annual Pakistan Fashion Design Council fashion show.

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 an X gender on driving licences.

Malik, 21, says she has lost count of the positive telephone calls and messages she has received since beginning her new role, which is a major contrast as she battled to survive in the past.

“I got a lot of appreciation from those associated with the fashion industry when I did catwalk modeling two weeks back, and now this… it is quite overwhelming.” – Marvia Malik to Reuters

“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’ you see begging on the street,” said Malik.

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 honorable 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.

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