GO! Presents 100 Women We Love: Class of 2024

THE CULTURAL ROADMAP FOR CITY GIRLS EVERYWHERE

August 6, 2020

Melissa Sklarz

Photo by Brendan Fay.

For Melissa Sklarz, becoming the first transgender person elected to office in New York State marked the beginning of a long and prosperous career as a political activist. Her success as an Elected Judicial Delegate in the 66th Assembly District is even more remarkable considering that she’d entered the political arena not that long after coming out as trans at the end of a long and rocky journey. “Until that point, I was tortured trying to maintain a life that had no meaning,” Sklarz tells GO about her transition. “I had no relationships and no esteem as a person. Transitioning was terrifying, but I’d already lost everything due to substance abuse. Learning to be authentic opened pathways to unimagined journeys of encouragement and joy.” Those journeys have taken her further into community organization and political activism. Since her election in 1999, she has served on numerous Democratic and LGBTQ+-related committees, including the Trans United Fund Political Action Committee and the Stonewall Democrats of New York City. She’s been a member of the Trans United for Obama (2012) and Hillary (2016); has served as the North East Regional Chair for the National Democratic Committee LGBT Advisory Committee; and, in 2016, was an Electoral College Member and Delegate for Hillary Clinton. Sklarz now works as a staff member at SAGE, as an advocate for LGBTQ+ elders. Her work, she says, “is to add visibility and support for LGBT elders. If we are lucky, we will get older, and if so, then I hope SAGE will be there for all of us.” —RK

Click here to see all 100 amazing women from this year’s class of Women We Love!

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