Thrown out of her home while still in her teens, Marvia Malik, faced the same choice as countless other transgenders in Pakistan – to work as a sex worker, dancer, or beggar. All because they do not conform to the societal notion of assigned genders.
But Marvia worked in a salon and put herself through college. She became the first transgender model on the catwalk at the annual Pakistan Fashion Design Council fashion show. This was soon followed by her first appearance on a local channel Kohenoor TV on Saturday, which went viral on social media!
In February 2018, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights passed a string of proposed amendments to ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017′, which allowed transgender to be recognized as the third gender without requiring consent from a medical board. The law bestows the same protections of dignity and security as other citizens of Pakistan.
Sana Yasir, an intersex educator, and physician said, that although there is progress in transgender rights, people may appear intolerant as they confuse gender identity with sexual orientation.”(People) assume being Trans means one has a certain orientation and harnesses hate against homosexuals, which then shows in their transphobic behavior,” Yasir said.
Not only Pakistan, many South Asian countries, like India and Bangladesh also marginalize and discriminate against transgenders in education and jobs. They are subjected to violence and are attacked, murdered, raped or reduced to work for sex.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issued driving licenses to transgender people marked with an X in gender, which opened the gates for another profession for them.
Marvia Malik is ecstatic with her new job and has garnered a lot of support from the community. Although she welcomes the reforms by the government for transgenders, she knows that the society’s perception also needs to reform and educate itself. She added, “We have to tell parents not to be ashamed of their kids who cannot conform to the sex assigned at birth.”
Here’s wishing Marvia good luck and hoping that we get to see more such positive changes in the society.
Snigdha is a 'closet' writer with unapologetic opinions on life and people around her. She supports the cause of protecting endangered civil rights like free speech, equity, equality, and most importantly common sense.