"I first went to prison when I was 18 and it was absolutely terrifying. The last time I was in prison was when I was 30. It was mostly related to prostitution, driving offences or drug offences. I wasn’t a hardcore criminal."
"I experienced rape and violation. Constantly being violated by other prisoners and also prison guards. I’ve been approached by prison guards who made me strip off so that they could have a look at me out of curiosity," Obrien told BuzzFeed News.
Obrien now campaigns for transgender rights and is the creator of the Brotherboys and Sistergirls of Australia Facebook page, an online support group and networking page for the Indigenous transgender community.
She believes Indigenous Sistergirls are at highest risk of abuse and death inside prison, saying that even in states with a gender identity policy, indigenous transgender women are often alienated because many of them don't meet the criteria.
"Even with a prison policy I don’t think there is a lot of protection for transgender people, and that is especially true for Sistergirls. In most cases they wouldn’t even come under that prison policy anyway."
"Prison policy around transgender people has conditions, like you must be on hormone replacement therapy, and it relies on your surgical status. It's up to the discretion of whoever processes you to decide if you meet the conditions. Most sistergirls don't meet these conditions because they have limited access to health services and options," said Obrien.
Starlady agrees that the cultural difference is staggering and must be addressed in any future policy in the NT, where almost 90 percent of the prison population is Aboriginal.
"The Sistergirl identity is different from other transgender identities," she says.
"It is a cultural identity and it’s different. It challenges what other people register as what 'transgender' is from a non-indigenous perspective. Sometimes Sistergirls just grow their hair long to signify that they are transgender and my concern is correctional staff won’t even register that they are transgender," Starlady says.