Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

Words by Jasmin Pedretti

We sit down with Melissa Griffiths, transgender authority and advocate, to talk about her personal experience as a transgender person and her role in raising awareness and inclusivity in the workplace.

Talking Transgender Truth and Trials with Melissa Griffiths

by Ponderings Radio

What is your favorite thing about being a woman? 

Being a woman is who I am. My favorite thing about being a woman is that I can be myself. It’s pretty simple.

 In The Guardian, you said, “I began to believe that being treated like this is part of being a woman when it is not and should never be.” How were you treated differently as a woman? 

There’s a lack of respect. People think they can make fun of you and get away with it. They think, “she won’t mind, she’s a good sport”.

What was the most unusual part of transitioning? 

Probably some of the questions and funny looks I got. That’s probably the hardest part. I’ve been asked to access the bar through the back door instead of from the front. Like I’m an embarrassment. I get yelled at on the street.

How does this societal stigma affect you?

It’s quite hard. You’re quite vulnerable, being part of a minority group. I have moments where I need to take time out to cry. The pain I go through makes me stronger. I know that if I keep pushing on like I have been for the past three years, that it will create change and hopefully in 10 years we won’t be having these sorts of conversations.

You teach businesses about how to be inclusive and supportive of transgender people transitioning in their workplace. This is so important for social acceptance – has this been positive, negative, easy or difficult? 

It’s not an easy thing to do. We speak to management about the challenges they might face while someone transitions in the workplace and some of the issues I encountered. I think sharing these stories is a powerful way to create change as well. Also, giving people the space to ask questions, for example, what pronouns to use when referring to someone non-binary.

What has been the most inspiring success so far? 

I spoke at RMIT this year for International Women’s Day and did a TEDx talk. I can’t believe I got through it. They have the smallest stage ever, and I managed to remember my speech and get my jokes in. For me, speaking is a journey. One YouTube video I love is by Admiral Raven from 2014, where he talks about being a sugar cookie. He says, no matter how well you prepare, sometimes you’ll fail. He calls it ‘just get over being a sugar cookie’. I love it.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping people behind the scenes. When I wrote about my experience getting through anxiety and depression this year, well most of it, people commented on Facebook that they had experienced it too, and it helps to make those human connections.

Melissa is a Global Goodwill Ambassador and was a Finalist of the 2019 AUS LGBTI Awards, yet she was so humble, you wouldn’t know this.

As we ponder with Melissa, we were reminded of people who are brave and the importance of kindness. In addition to a conversation about inclusivity, it is about a person forging through and advocating for others, paving a way in a changing world. For tips for employers for a transgender person transitioning in your workplace and to find out more about Melissa you can visit www.melissagriffiths.com.au and her podcast https://melissacgriffiths.podbean.com

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We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

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