Tuesday January 22, 2019
Home Lead Story Pakistan&#821...

Pakistan’s First Transgender News Anchor

"There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,"

0
//
transgender news anchor
Marvia Malik, Pakistan's first transgender news anchor. VOA

Washington, March 25 TV viewers in Pakistan, on March 23, saw something they had never seen before —a transgender anchor presenting the news in prime time.

Despite this giant leap, Marvia Malik, the first and only transgender news anchor in the country, said the difficulties faced by people like her in Pakistan are far from over.

“I am a journalism degree holder, but I faced the same difficulties [as] the transgender people who simply beg or dance in the streets,” Malik told VOA in a phone interview.

ALSO READ: A Tale of Resilience and Courage: India’s First Transgender Judge Joyita Mondal

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In a country such as Pakistan, it is common to mock transgender people, who are expected to earn their livelihood mainly by dancing, begging or working in the sex trade. Pixabay

The most daunting task for them is getting a respectable job. But Malik said if more entrepreneurs and businesses showed more courage in breaking the social taboos as her employer, “Kohenoor News,” things can change.

“Like other trans people, I did not get any support from my family.On my own, I did some menial jobs and continued my studies. I had always wanted to be a news anchor, and my dream came true when I got selected,” she said.

Junaid Ansari, owner of the TV station, told VOA that Malik was not selected because the station wanted to make a point about breaking taboos. Ansari said he instructed his team to make the selection on the basis of merit and not gender.

ALSO READ: Here’s why Being a Transgender is the biggest regret in Pakistan

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
“We had asked aspiring news presenters to come for the auditions. I got a call from one of my team members who said that one of the applicants was a transgender,” Ansari said. Pixabay

There was some pushback from his team, but Ansari stuck to his decision.

“They are human beings, too, and they should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. I purely made the decision on the basis of treating all humans equally.The thought of challenging the social norms or breaking taboos did not even come to my mind,” Ansari said.

Ansari said feedback regarding Malik’s hiring has been mostly positive, though the station has received some negative feedback.

ALSO READ: Is US military looking forward to recruiting transgender people?

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In Pakistan’s Twittersphere and other social media platforms, people are praising Malik’s selection, calling it a step in the right direction. Pixabay

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Senate approved a bill for the protection of transgender rights. The bill asked the government to ensure employment opportunities and easy installment loans for transgender people.

According to the 2017 census, there are over 10,000 transgender people in Pakistan, a number some people say is much higher.

In the meantime, Malik is enjoying her instant fame.

“There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,” she said. VOA

Next Story

U.S. Military Chiefs Fights Trump’s Trans Ban in The Army

Under rules introduced by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the country's military did not distinguish between trans men and women and other service personnel.

0
Trans, USA, census
Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini speaks during a press conference following oral arguments in a case to block a transgender military ban at the U.S. Western District Federal Courthouse, March 27, 2018, in Seattle. VOA

Four senior retired U.S. military officers on Tuesday blasted a legal ruling backing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the armed forces as “wrong” ahead of a key decision from the country’s top court on Friday.

The officers said a ruling last week by a Washington appeals court in favor of a ban on transgender recruits was misguided and backed an earlier decision that such a policy would violate their constitutional rights.

“The D.C. Court of Appeals made an error when it lifted one of the injunctions that protect transgender members of our military,” said retired officers Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, Rear Admiral John Hutson, Major General Gale Pollock and Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender.

“The need for an injunction protecting transgender people who serve their country remains precisely the same,” they said in a joint statement obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

USA, wall, trans
President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he gets a briefing on border wall prototypes, in San Diego, California March 13, 2018. VOA

In July 2017, Trump tweeted that transgender people would be banned from serving in the U.S. military, citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Former defense secretary Jim Mattis last year proposed allowing trans individuals currently serving to remain.

However, new transgender recruits and trans servicemen and women who sought to transition after the ban took effect would be barred.

In its ruling, the Washington appeals court said the Mattis proposal did not represent a “blanket ban” on trans individuals.

But the retired chiefs said the rationale for the Mattis policy and the Trump tweets was “the same — politics, not military expertise — and courts should not be deferring to it.”

A 2016 RAND Corporation survey estimated that there were between 1,300 and 6,600 trans men and women on active duty in the 1.3-million-strong U.S. military.

USA, robots, trans
U.S. Army Soldier in Afghanistan. Flickr

“The Trump tweets and the Mattis policy take aim at the same people: troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent research institute that focuses on LGBT+ people and the military.

“They ban the same thing: gender transition. They have the same effect: forcing transgender troops to live a lie and denying them medically necessary care.”

Other LGBT+ rights organizations echoed Belkin’s concerns.

The administration is “trying to package this as an entirely new policy, but all it does is what President Trump ordered: ban openly transgender people from bravely serving their country,” said Tara Borelli, counsel at Lambda Legal.

Ryan Thoreson, an LGBT+ researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Wording the Mattis policy slightly differently doesn’t change the plain fact that this is and always has been a ban on transgender service.”

Also Read: Donald Trump To Address The Nation on Ongoing Border Crisis

Under rules introduced by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the country’s military did not distinguish between trans men and women and other service personnel.

Trump has requested the matter be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will convene on Friday to decide whether to review the three injunctions still in place. (VOA)