Being True to Yourself as an LGBTQI With Melissa Griffiths
It is okay to be different
Melissa grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and has been living in Melbourne since 1999. As a child she always felt awkward feeling awkward and shy. She was bullied as a child that led her to being anxious a lot and until the last year she always had low self-esteem and confidence. Melissa always knew she was different to other children and never quite understood until she was a teenager when she started wearing female clothes.
When Melissa moved to Melbourne she began to explore more the feelings she had to be a woman. Melissa explained that in the beginning it was a challenge to go into retail stores and buy female clothes as a male for herself and try them on in store. Another challenge for her was living as a woman part time and still living as a male to earn money. She had no role model to guide her so looking back she wore some interesting outfits like short tartan mini skirt with boots and top. The turning point to transition from male to female for her was when her father was sick and dying. She realised then that she could no longer live a double life so she made the decision then to transition and live full time as a woman.
Melissa is a co-author of a book of inspirational quotes for women by women which is due to be released later this year with the book launch at the end of April. She also intend to write a book to share her story so that it has a positive impact on society and to raise awareness of the issues that transgender people go through. She is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about her vision to start a foundation to educate employers, organisations and schools on gender identity, issues around this with in the workplace and to assist transgender people in their journey. She is also passionate about raising more awareness around gender identity in society. Melissa looks forward to the day that Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender Queer Intersex (LGBTQI) are able to bring their full selves to work and be more readily understood and accepted by their family, friends and peers.
1. Humble Beginnings
Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?
I got started with my vision by working out what the end result would look like. I got some clarity on what I wanted my foundation to look like. I also believed in it 100% from the start that it will happen and my vision will become reality. Having strong self-belief was an important part to me getting started and I still believe that this is one of the most important things if anyone has a dream or vision they want to see come into reality.
I was empowered by listening to other transgender peoples stories and reading about their stories and the challenges they had. I was also empowered by the challenges I overcame in my transition I faced with family, friends and people in society who are not aware of what transgender people go through. The main thing that empowered me when I started was that I could stand up, raise awareness and leave a legacy for future generations which enables them to have a far better experience than I did.
Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?
One of the first strategies I used when I started to look for people to assist me in setting up my foundation was sharing my journey with people I know in the LGBTQI community. I shared my vision to gauge interest and support from the LGBTQI community. Another strategy I used was by connecting with a variety of people on LinkedIn. I connected with CEO’s of organisations to people here and overseas some of which are in the LGBTQI community. I also found Inspirational quotes which I commented on and the shared them on LinkedIn. By implementing and using these strategies I was able to start connecting and meeting people who were interested in my foundation and helping me or giving me advice around this.
Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?
Having the mindset that I can, I will and I am in the context that I can achieve my vision, will never give up and I am a leader who can get this achieved. I started out with the mindset of knowing that I my vision will be successful and I will write my book to share my story. I have found in my experience that a lot of people don’t have this mindset. A lot of people say I can’t and I won’t achieve my vision or can’t change society. I developed my mindset by investing in myself last year. I attended a course called Influential Leadership run by Intercept Experience which was a positive influence and helped me with my mindset. Positive influence also came from having Tanya Lacy from Intercept Experience as my mentor and helping me to see myself as a leader. I also invested in having a coach from Intercept Experience called Annie Kallis who developed my mindset.
3. What is your definition of success?
I define success by how I am changing as an individual and how this impacts on others. By changing myself to be the best person I can be I am then empowered to help others in their journey. If I can have an impact on even one person that is positive by talking to them or mentoring them and helping that person through a challenging or difficult situation then to me that is success. The success of getting a gender identity policy introduced at Brisbane Racing Club, Melbourne Racing Club and Victoria Racing Club is not so such about what I have done rather than the impact this have on current and future racegoers. The affect of having this that transgender people can now and in the future attend the race clubs without been discriminated against. The ripple effect that comes from other people at race clubs seeing transgender people been treated fairly and equally will flow onto to outside these clubs and to me this is a positive.
Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?
They are either not 100% clear on their vision or do it believe in their vision 100%. Consciously people may think that they believe fully in their vision or totally clear on it however at a deeper subconscious level they are not. In my experience I have found that you have to believe at both levels so you are congruent otherwise you will find yourself facing failure or worse failing. The other main reasons I have found people face failure when going after their vision is that are not committed or focused enough on it so they give up. If people were more focused or committed then they would have the patience and perseverance to keep going rather than focusing on the temporary setbacks or making bad decisions and taking unnecessary risks because things aren’t going their way. The most important thing is that if we face failure and realise it is only a test of the belief we have in our vision then when we overcome we will be wiser and stronger.
5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?
To be true to yourself and be yourself. If you need help or support with any challenge you face then ask for it. I have found in my journey that by asking for support when I have needed it that I have got through the challenge that I was facing at that time. It is okay to be different, feel different to others as we all are unique individuals. We all have gifts and talents we just have to recognise we have them and develop them so we can use them in a positive way. Also follow your dreams and don’t let others around you discourage you. Focus on your dreams, how you can achieve them and add value to society. Believe in yourself 100% and be brave. Find you inner strength and use it to help you create positive things in your life.
To connect with Melissa on LinkedIn, visit www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-griffiths
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