Have you ever had felt wounded?
I’ll bet you at some point in your life you have. It may not show visibly however you don’t feel right and no matter why or what the context is, the pain remains painful!
What if you have felt wounded and you are transgender? It is like a cherry on the top filled with pains. Well, Melissa is a complete person, who has lacked confidence, felt ugly, or not found her worth enough.
In her life journey, she has grown into a much stronger person. She is more patient and so much more tolerant of ignorance. Her resilience has built up far beyond what her dreams could have ever imagined or thought possible. She became comfortable in her uncomfortable skin ready to bear any pain. Indeed its painful while going through all this and even more challenging than you can think. Such situations can tear apart a person, emotionally, physically or financially however in her case this has made her a far better person who has turned into a beautiful shining star today.
Let’s read her real-life story and struggles to get a brief snapshot since childhood till date. It will explain how things have changed for her and how the worst times have helped her be the courageous and motivational person that she is today.
About Her life
Her early years were spent in Auckland, New Zealand where she spent most of her life living in one house. She spent the first four or so year of her life in one house adjacent to the new family home she would move to. The memories of the new house she lived in are still fresh in her mind. Melissa remember’s the house-warming party where she stood all alone by herself as people arrived then later on milled around her, laughing, drinking and eating, but she was at peace.
Her father was an engineer who worked at Mulcahy Engineering. Her mother was a housewife until she reached her twenties. As a child, she went fishing with her family. Spending time on the boat or on a yacht seaside was one of her favorite pastimes as well as bush-walking and cycling. This passion continued till her adult years. Being outdoors gave Melissa a sense of freedom.
She was very shy as a child and at school. She never made friends and was never a part of any boy’s group in her school. Melissa’s relationship with her parents at home was never really good, with their arguing and fighting with each other not helping her in any way. She was bullied and harassed at school for her feminine looks, and her lean figure. Once she was also dipped under water for wanting to join a girl’s camp nearby when attending a boys brigade camp one weekend.
Melissa recalls playing and spending good quality time with her girl cousins. There was also the bonfires at home or when she attended the local church youth group at a farm for Guy Fawkes in November. Rockets flying in the air, and crackers going off one after the other used to fascinate her. The bonfires roared at night in the sky, this was one very happy memory from her past.
Growing up as a teenager, Melissa realized that she was not like the other boys. She would have preferred to use the female toilets however used the boys’ toilets. She enjoyed wearing her mother’s clothes when no one was around. This made her realize that she was different however had to keep it to herself and didn’t discuss this with anyone. She had no friends to talk about this, and as her parents were busy, seemingly oblivious to her and often fought.
In high school when she decided to suppress her thoughts and feelings. She tried to fit in with the other boys. Melissa threw herself into typical teenage boy activities such as being part of schoolyard pranks and only mixed with a few other teenagers at school. She took part in school athletics but soon realized that I cannot make it in comparison to the other taller and stronger boys.
At this time she tried to bury and ignore her feminine feelings and give more attention to be a part of the normal crowd. Hence, she started drinking early at the age of 15. As Melissa moved onto her adulthood, it took her almost 13 months to get employed and then she had the money to actually go out and enjoy nightclubs or strip shows. She tried and played touch rugby and cricket for quite a time, pretending to be masculine. But deep down Melissa still felt uncomfortable with who she was.
Once again as Melissa moved onto in life she found herself dressing up as a female in her late 20’s. During this time she was also dealing with depression. Melissa felt that she was not able to be herself. Not long after this, she decided to move to Melbourne and since then has not looked back.
Not long after moving to Melbourne she started wearing female clothes at home. After a few years, she actually got some courage up to go out to a few places that she found which were safe such as DT’s pub in Richmond and the Newmarket hotel in St Kilda. She managed to meet a few people there who helped her during her early years going out as a female.
Melissa continued working as a male and still kept hiding her true identity to my patents, colleagues, and family. This was the most crucial time in her life as it was very difficult to accept the fact that she was a transgender female. Looking back, Melissa is really grateful to other transgender people, who accepted her the way she was and helped her.
In 2014 when father was in the hospital dealing with cancer she went to Auckland to visit him. Looking at him, Melissa realized that life is very short and unpredictable. When Melissa saw her dad looking pale and as though his life was nearly over, it helped her make the decision to be true to the world and live full time as a transgender female. So after this, the first thing she did was to tell her employer that she was going to transition from male to female. This is when the entire process began.
In 2015 whilst her transition journey was going on, she faced a lot of problems. People asked her questions like, whether she would prefer to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Also going out as a female people gave her strange looks whilst she walked down the street or when she went to use female toilets. Even at restaurants, people addressed her as Sir, when I actually introduced herself as Melissa.
During her time transitioning and after starting to live full time as a female Melissa gained some experience in advocacy and consulting to organizations. She managed to get a gender identity policy introduced at several racing clubs including the Victoria Racing Club. It was through these experiences that she realized that there was still a need for an understanding with other clubs/employers about how to make workplaces inclusive for transgender people. She also realized that there was a real need to spread more awareness regarding transgender people.
Also through her own experiences, Melissa recognized that people needed to be more generous and inclusive of transgender people in workplaces and society as a whole. With this in mind, she decided to take up classes to first improve herself and be a better person personally before embarking on her mission of raising awareness and to educate employers.
So in 2017, Melissa finally decided to reach people and she wrote an article for Thrive Global about herself and a foundation that she wanted to set up. Since then she has continued on this path through radio, TV, print media, and social media sharing her real life story and the entire journey and its intricacy to break down barriers and help people be more accepting of transgender people.
Although Melissa achieved a lot in a short space of time early on in 2017 she felt there is still a lot more to do. She felt that the only way people will connect to it would be through her story. So Melissa began to share a lot more of her story and to her surprise, a lot of people either came up to her to the street or through social media or at events spoke at saying they appreciated her for being courageous and outspoken about the entire journey.
Doing this was the best way Melissa knew as to her this was the only change society’s point of view towards transgender people. People started showing respect towards her and for her decision to live as a female all her life. A lot of people connected with her who were going through similar issues. Others connected with Melissa for her honesty.
Through this process, she had to change her whole approach in dealing with people and learned to ask for support. This was a huge lesson to acknowledge that when you have stuffed up to ask people how to get help with this or deal with it.
Through Melissa’s personal experiences and critical journey, she has learned to never give up, no matter how difficult or impossible the situation may seem to be. No matter what and how difficult your path is one should not lose patience and will eventually overcome the hurdle. This has proved to be correct and will keep this to the end of her journey.
Melissa being a Transgender Female raises awareness
While going through all this, Melissa kept working on herself. She learned how to deal with others whilst becoming a better listener and person in the process. To completely change your identity is a big turmoil in itself where you can sometimes feel stuck and face situations that just seems impossible to resolve.
Also, there are times when you fight between your inner self and the world which gets you in a tough position. People keep pressuring you for things and try to make you feel that you just cannot do it. But somewhere deep inside you know that you can. When you have come across so well up till now, you can push a bit further. Believing in yourself is a big challenge, however, Melissa has learned that one can do wonders if dig deep to find that self-belief. Also if you start to do better in your life for yourselves then, in turn, you can help others believe in themselves.
Melissa spreads awareness regarding the issues a transgender person may face. She also talks about how to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender people. She has learned this through her own experiences, going through issues herself whilst transforming from a male to female.
According to Melissa, it takes a lot of courage to step out and do things beyond your comfort zone. But you may do it in your own special way. People may notice, and talk about you moving away from your normal routine. They will create and attempt to place obstacles in your way in an effort to prevent you from spreading your message with love and especially when you are trying to do something different to make the world a better place.
Speaking to people about respecting transgender people
It gets too difficult to feel safe and comfortable when even one person does not accept you at your workplace. Melissa has shared her story through various mediums which mentions the times she has felt confused, misunderstood, or feelings of not belonging in this world. She has always wanted answers as to why she is even a part of this world and is finding some of those answers now.
By sharing this has made her vulnerable, however by doing so, others will connect with her story. Doing so makes Melissa a target for trolls and the like, however being a voice will help other transgender people who still have not built up that courage in their heart to speak up or not able to speak up. A voice that can help lead to transgender people being respected, not vilified or victimized like third-rate citizens.
Talking about this makes Melissa also think back to when she completely started living as a woman. That journey chokes her up, thinking of those days and how it was to start feeling beautiful again. All the times when she has been nominated for an award it is like another achievement for Melissa and it also makes her recall all she has done. They also push her to a new level and stage of hope and opportunities for the future.
Moments and Experiences in life are meant to shape us
Turmoil actually tests us. It helps us grow better and stronger. If we make up our mind decide to be strong and go through the turmoil no matter what then we will definitely be able to resolve issues overcoming obstacles at the same time. If we sit and think that the experiences in our lives have occurred for a reason, and will deal correctly it will leave a positive impact on our lives. By sharing our story, we inspire others and at the same time have a positive impact on others too making the world a better place for all of us.
Many thanks to our Story Editor –Srishti Mehra Arora and till we bring a new interesting story to you – Let’s toast to good thoughts…