A television channel in Pakistan has claimed to have hired the first transgender news anchor in the country. The anchor, Marvia Malik, told Dawn that that only one’s skills, not gender, should matter while hiring people. She said she wanted to “create history” in the media industry.

Malik first appeared on Kohenoor News on Friday, and a picture of her in the studio went viral on social media ever since. The channel told VOA News that the decision to hire Malik was “purely...on the basis of treating all humans equally”.

“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 News. She told Dawn that she wanted to do “something for my community that I feel is way behind”.

“Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon,” she was quoted as saying. “But there’s nothing we cannot do; we are educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change.”

Malik said that like it was usual for transgenders in Pakistan, her family did not support her and she did menial jobs to be able to study. “I worked really hard to be where I am – worked at parlours, did odd jobs, but refused to beg or dance,” she said. “I wanted to make a name for myself and eventually for my community. My family only helped me till my matriculation, but I supported myself for intermediate and graduation.”

Malik has earlier been a model as well. She said she had applied for a job at Kohenoor News three months ago, and was selected within hours after her interview.

She told Dawn that her pay scale was similar to any other person fresh into the job. “Why should gender matter?” she said. “Everything is eventually concealed under your clothes. We only need to change our mentality and everything else will change itself. I am here to change my community’s destiny, not represent myself as an individual.”

The channel’s Chief Executive Officer Junaid Mahmood Ansari said he hired Malik because he did not see a reason why he should not if she fulfilled the criteria.