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A trans musician sings her story in conservative Malaysia

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:57s - Published < > Embed
A trans musician sings her story in conservative Malaysia

A trans musician sings her story in conservative Malaysia

Shika Corona is a transgender guitarist and singer of an LGBT band in Malaysia.

The band is unique in the conservative country, where same-sex acts have been outlawed.

Jayson Albano reports.


A trans musician sings her story in conservative Malaysia

Malaysia can be a challenging place for the LGBT, but on stage, Shika Corona feels at home.

She's the guitarist and singer of three-piece band Tingtong Ketz in Kuala Lumpur.

Her band is unique there.

Many of Shika's songs are about her experiences as a transgender woman growing up in a conservative Muslim family and society.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) 42 YEAR-OLD TRANSWOMAN, SHIKA SAYING: "The song "Berubah" is actually about my parents, and my experience in a conservative family.

Like my mother asking me 'when are you going to change back?', because she doesn't want me to go to hell.

She loves me so much, she doesn't want me to burn in hell.

But I can't do that.

I'm sorry but this is my true self." Shika says she found the courage to become a musician after travelling to Japan on a research scholarship five years ago.

Today, Tingtong Ketz and another Malaysian LGBT band - Shh...Diam - play gigs and events together in the few LGBT safe spaces around the city.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) SHH... DIAM!'S LEAD SINGER FARIS SAAD SAYING: "A lot of kids we play to in these crowds... they've never met an openly trans person before, they've never met a transman before, they've never met queer people before, they don't have queer friends.

So they're welcome to ask us questions," Cross-dressing, sodomy and other same sex acts are all illegal in Malaysia.

While enforcement of the law is rare, civil rights groups say, persecution of the LGBT community is growing.

Last September in an eastern Malaysian state, two women were caned for quote 'attempting lesbian sex'.

Earlier this month, LGBT activists sparked outrage when they joined a march to celebrate International Women's Day.

And Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the country will not accept same-sex marriage or LGBT rights.

Despite the risks, Shika is not worried about her public visibility.

She and her band only want to bring attention to the lives of queer and transgender people as well as the discrimination they face, one gig at a time.

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