A transgender woman has spoken of the "hell on earth" she suffered after being raped and abused more than 2,000 times in an all-male prison.
The woman, known only by her pseudonym, Mary, was imprisoned for four years after stealing a car.
She said the abuse began as soon as she entered Brisbane’s notorious Boggo Road Gaol and that her experience was so horrific that she would “rather die than go to prison ever again”.
“You are basically set upon with conversations about being protected in return for sex,” Mary told news.com.au.
“They are either trying to manipulate you or threaten you into some sort of sexual contact and then, once you perform the requested threat of sex, you are then an easy target as others want their share of sex with you, which is more like rape than consensual sex.
“It makes you feel sick but you have no way of defending yourself.”
Mary was transferred a number of times, but said Boggo Road was the most violent - and where she suffered the most abuse.
After a failed escape, Mary was designated as ‘high-risk’, meaning she had to serve her sentence as a maximum security prisoner alongside the most violent inmates.
“I was flogged and bashed to the point where I knew I had to do it in order to survive, but survival was basically for other prisoners’ pleasure,” she said.
“It was hell on earth, it was as if I died and this was my punishment.”
While inside, Mary said she was also forced to endure another type of abuse – the denial of her gender. She said her long hair was cut off by another prisoner and that she was not allowed to take her hormones, so began to grow facial hair.
“It was like my identity was taken away from me,” she said.
Mary maintains it was unnecessary and unfair for her to be put in male prisons.
“People must think if you go to a female prison, you’re going to rape women and you’re not — it doesn’t make any sense,” Mary said.
“I’d rather die than go to prison ever again in my whole life.”
Before her conviction, Mary had undergone the lengthily process of seeing a psychiatrist and been approved hormone therapy. However, she had not had reassignment surgery. If she had undertaken the operation before her sentence, she would have been sent to a female prison.
“I look like a woman and I think if a transgender person is genuine and they are living as the opposite sex, then they should be housed in a female prison, even if you’re in a wing on your own.
“You shouldn’t be subjected to sexual assault. You are serving a punishment for an error you made in your life.”
Mary said the abuse she suffered had stayed with her despite her release back into society.
“I don’t have a relationship and I don’t trust men and never will ever again in my life — I’ve not had a relationship since prison,” she said.
She added: “We [members of the transgender community] are human beings and most of us were born this way.
"We want to just live our lives but are ridiculed by society because we have the guts to be who we are.”
Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123