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Melissa Griffiths Can you understand what it is like to feel different to others and that you don’t belong? Then imagine growing up not quite understanding why you are different and don’t fit in with those around yet desperately wanting to do so. Well, this is how I felt growing up as a child born in the wrong body however not fully grasping this at the time. I realised that I was more feminine than most boys of my age at that time and it wasn’t till I was a teenager that I started to grasp who I really was. I am a transgender authority who lives in Melbourne. I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand as a shy, awkward child wanting to be with the girls as if I was a girl and one of them. I started dressing as a girl as a teenager however for a time as an adult tried to suppress my femininity by playing sports in an attempt to be masculine ignoring my gender identity as a female. When I moved to Australia I start to dress again and realised that it was not just a passing phase or that I was a crossdresser. In fact I was really a transgender female. Through my journey living as a male by day and transgender female part time I had many experiences which helped shape me. These experiences taught me a lot about humanity and how people react to someone like me that is not the “so-called norm”. It was when I transitioned that I realised that nothing can fully prepare you for living full time as a transgender female, the reactions from your workmates and society in general. So then imagine for a moment if one day you go to work as a male then the next day as a female. Can you imagine how others around you in the workplace might react? Well, if you can even a understand this a little then you might begin to understand what transgender people like myself go through. Prior to my transition I approached the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) where I was a member about introducing a gender identity policy to make it easier and safer for transgender people like myself attending the races. I worked with the VRC over about 4 weeks to get a gender identity policy implemented there which they did as well as training their staff as well about gender identity. Achieving this in such a short space of time made me realise that you can make a difference for good in the world if you take action and risks to do so. It was because of this and other experiences I had prior and after my transition that led to me to continue this by standing up and raising awareness about gender identity to make it easier for current and future generations of transgender people. Over the last few years I have continued on this journey by sharing my story through blog posts, media and social media. I have written articles for various websites including writing about how to make the workplace more inclusive for transgender people for Scout Jobs. I have also been interviewed by Thrive Global in USA as well as doing radio interviews here on stations like Joy Fm and Southern Cross radio as well as in the USA. I was also interviewed on the popular TV show Studio 10 last year about Hannah Mouncey not been able to partake in the AFLWL draft. I was recognised for my work in the community last year by being finalist for Victorian LGBTI person of the year. I continue to raise awareness about gender identity and issues facing transgender people through all mediums here and overseas. I was recently featured on the front cover of a magazine in the United Kingdom (UK) called Sofya Style which was a dream come true for me. Living true to myself and sharing my story is living proof that we all can make a difference in the world. I am an ambassador for Flexible Working Day as well as Global Goodwill Ambassador Australia (LinkedIn group) as well as part of the steering committee for Tracey Spicer’s NOW Australia campaign to make it better for all women in Australia. To learn more about NOW Australia campaign and even donate go the website - www.now.org.au. With all the work I do I am continually humbled by others who say I am inspirational which drives me to continue to be so and to be even more inspirational than I am now. To learn about more me go to my website: www.melissagriffiths.com.au Q & A with Melissa