Content Warning: Contains descriptions of violence and transphobia.
Marvia Malik, Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor, escaped serious injury after two gunmen opened fire at her on the night of Thursday, February 23. She was walking home from the pharmacy in Lahore, Pakistan, when the attack happened.
Malik had been receiving threatening anonymous phone messages regarding her trans activism, which she believes was the major factor behind the attack. She previously feared for her safety and moved away from Lahore to Islamabad and Multan, but had returned to the area for surgery only days before the incident.
News anchor Marvia Malik has just survived a gun attack. This is the direct consequence of the hate speech & incendiary words that the likes of Maria B, Senator Mushtaq or Youth Club use against the trans community. Your words can cost people's lives. Say NO to transphobia pic.twitter.com/PKvDfhaiGg
— Muneeb Qadir (@muneebqadirmmq) February 24, 2023
In 2018, when Malik was only 21, she made history by becoming Pakistan’s first openly transgender news anchor in the conservative Muslim-majority country. She has continued to be a news anchor for Kohenoor News ever since.
Throughout her career, Malik has proudly advocated for trans rights. While she has received praise and support for her activism, her life has not been easy. Malik’s family disowned her when she was in school, and she has continued to face threats and discrimination throughout her career.
In a previous interview with USA Today, Malik said, “I never received the respect that society generally gives to men and women. I have been teased and harassed constantly.” She urged parents to extend love and support to their trans children.
She has long described the prevalence of anti-trans discrimination in Pakistan and the struggle to be accepted as equal citizens in society. Despite the challenges, activists continue to fight for trans and wider LGBTQ+ rights.
While significant progress has been made in the country with gender identity-based discrimination in the workplace being outlawed, and trans people being legally allowed to change their gender on their national ID cards which also offer a third-gender option, homosexuality continues to be criminalised in Pakistan. LGBTQ+ rights are very restricted and queer people regularly face violence.
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