• The Tiwi Island Sistagals to feature in new documentary about their journey into womanhood. (SBS VICELAND)Source: SBS VICELAND
In the last year, the Tiwi Island Sistagirls have shot to fame and now their journey into womanhood will be made into a documentary.
By
Elliana Lawford

Source:
NITV News
11 Sep 2017 - 6:24 PM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2017 - 6:25 PM

They’ve been hitting catwalks, stealing the show at the Sydney Mardi Gras, and even making their own clothing line. 

Their latest endeavour has been to film a documentary about their lives with VICE. It explores what it's like to live on the Tiwi Islands, with a focus on Laura, who is embarking on her journey to becoming a woman.

"I just can’t wait to go on my hormone treatment, to have my breasts, yeah can’t wait for that."

This journey isn’t an easy one, because services in remote communities are limited.

"We don’t have any services on the island that is catered for sistagirls that wanna access services, like I’m talking for hormone treatments, because there is lack of funding and support, the wellbeing in remote community is very difficult so that’s why a lot of girls come to Darwin or go to Sydney accessing services that they want to access."

Crystal Love, often referred to as the ‘mother’ sistagirl, says the documentary’s aim is to educate people about strong, proud, Aboriginal sistagirls living out bush.

"Hopefully in the next generation of our sistagals growing up I hope they find it really good and not hard and challenging." 

"The theme is about awareness and education, and it’s actually to change our community’s perspective on LGBTIQ brotherboys and sistergirls in our community."

For most of the girls, from a very young age, they knew they were different. Nicole says she realised when she was just five-years-old, Laura remembers knowing at the age of 10 and Sean even gave up a lifetime of sport to be who she really is. 

"I was always playing sport when I was young but I knew I was different, I was different within my self, I didn’t feel comfortable within myself so I gave up my sporting career to be who I am really."

The girls have had to overcome a lot of hurdles, from not being accepted by some family members, to abuse and even racism. But they hope their documentary will inspire the next generation to be proud of who they are.  

"When I was young growing up in a home and growing up in a community it was hard, people knew that you were a sistagirl and you know a lot of people took advantage of me and I didn’t know what abuse was," Crystal explained.

For Nicole, finding acceptance was such a struggle that she ended up having to move out of home.

"My mums family is really strict, not much I could do to open up myself with that so I had to come move over here back to the island and that’s when I found the rest of the girls here and I knew that I would be more safe and comfortable here with them," she said. 

"Hopefully in the next generation of our sistergirls growing up I hope they find it really good and not hard and challenging you know, cause the way I grew up was really hard." 

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They are still finding their place in their community. Some of the girls only dress up as females in Darwin, and return to their cultural roles when they’re across the harbour and back on the Island.

"I hope people understand that we do live in three worlds, especially us in sistagirls, we have our Aboriginal world, our First Nation world, we have the society now the western society and we have our gay world so that’s three worlds that we have to balance and juggle through," Sean expressed.

But the girl’s all agree their rise to fame over the last year has given them a world of confidence.

It's been so good for me so far to come through the struggle, and to see young generations coming and taking initiative to be who they are and putting their hand saying yes I own this, if my people can do this I can,” Crystal smiled.

Laura agreed, “Yes it does give me confidence, I don't feel shame anymore. There's no need to be afraid anymore.”

Despite making headlines across the country, Nicole says they’ll always call Tiwi home.

"Well this is where I live on the Tiwi Islands and this is where I’ll always be and you’ll always find me around walking around with my girls.”

To watch the full story tune into NITV's The Point at 9pm tonight on Ch.34

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