A Pakistani TV channel has put the country’s first transgender news anchor on the air, a watershed cultural moment for the marginalised community in the deeply conservative country.

Marvia Malik, a former model who appeared on the Lahore-based private broadcaster Kohenoor for the first time last Friday, said she has received “unprecedented love and support” since landing the job.

“My family never accepted or owned me,” she said, adding that the rift drove her to seek a better future in Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital.

“Here I received unprecedented love and support from everyone that I never got from my own family,” she said, adding that the positive response only escalated once she went on air for the daily broadcast.

Transgenders – also known in Pakistan as khawajasiras, an umbrella term denoting a third sex that includes transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs – have long fought for their rights in the patriarchal Islamic country.

Malik, who declined to confirm her age but is reportedly around 21, said she hoped to use her platform to urge people to treat one another as human beings first, without discrimination.

A journalism graduate from Punjab University, she said she hopes eventually to enter politics herself or form a non-governmental organisation aimed at promoting gender rights.

If she becomes “financially sound”, she added, she may even seek to establish her own TV channel.