Marvia Malik, at the Kohenoor television studio, in Lahore, Pakistan. Picture taken March 25, 2018/Thomson Reuters Foundation/Zile Huma

A local news channel in Pakistan has made history by employing a transgender person as a news anchor. Meet Marvia Malik, an employee with Kohenoor TV who made her national television appearance on March 23.

Malik is clearly ecstatic to have landed her dream job, but her journey has not been an easy one. Even though she held a degree in journalism, she had to face the same difficulties as those from her community who beg or dance on the streets, Malik told VOA News.

Besides being socially ostracized, the 21-year-old was also denied any support from her family. “My family knows I have modeled and they know that I work as a newscaster,” Malik said. “It’s the age of social media and there’s nothing that my family doesn’t know. But they have still disowned me.”

Malik was thrown out of her home shortly after she completed grade 10 and she had to fend for herself. Her work at a beauty salon helped her earn some money, but it was just enough to put her through college.

“But it was not easy. My story is no different from that of a hijra on the street you see begging,” she was quoted as saying by Thomson Reuters Foundation. “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 added.

Junaid Ansari, owner of Kohenoor TV, was not thinking of creating history when he decided to hire Malik. She was selected purely based on merit, Ansari told VOA News. “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.

Earlier this year, the Pakistan government approved a major reform to help improve the lives of transgenders in the country.

The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights passed a string of proposed amendments to ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017′, which allows them the same protections that are offered to other citizens of the country.