Melissa’s Story

A life-long progressive New Yorker and fierce advocate for equality, Melissa Sklarz has dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights protections and justice in New York State. Throughout her career, she has fought to break down barriers and overcome adversity in critical issues including housing, civil rights, women’s reproductive health, and policing.  Since moving to Queens 12 years ago, Melissa’s neighbors in the 30th Assembly District, where she is currently running, have elected her to serve as a judicial delegate. With the continued support of her neighbors voters, she hopes to serve her neighborhood in the New York State Assembly.

Melissa’s work as a prominent trans activist helped lead to the introduction and passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) 10 times in the New York State Assembly. Not deterred by the New York State Senate’s refusal to even debate the bill, Melissa worked closely with former Governor David Paterson’s administration to craft an executive order to protect transgender state employees. In 2015, she worked with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration to extend civil rights protections to transgender New Yorkers under the state Human Rights Law.

Melissa’s pioneering role advocating for New Yorkers started in 1999, after she was elected to serve as a judicial delegate in the 66th Assembly District, becoming the first trans person elected to office in New York State. As an active member in local, state and national politics, Melissa currently serves as Secretary for the Northern Regular Democratic Club in Woodside and is a member of the Powhatan Democratic Club in Astoria, which honored her in 2013 her work on civil rights. She previously served as president of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City. Melissa is also a member of the U.S. Electoral College, serving as a delegate during the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) and in 2008, as a member of DNC Rules Committee. In 2004, she became the state’s first transgender elected delegate to the DNC, serving on the Credentials Committee.

I am ready to bring my experience to Albany to work for Queens. It is time for the representation we deserve.

Melissa also has decades of experience building coalitions that delivered real change for New Yorkers, like negotiating critical reforms to the NYPD Patrol Guide and being appointed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to ensure appropriate standards for police interactions. She also serves on the Faella Commission for the New York Unified Court System to promote equal participation and access throughout the courts.

Melissa grew up in Hicksville, New York where her father was a high school teacher. She played varsity soccer at Hicksville High and graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a degree in political science before working as a truck driver, office manager, and accountant. Melissa, who overcame struggles with substance abuse and homelessness earlier in life become a fierce advocate for equality after being fired from a job she held for eight years just two weeks after starting female hormones. As a member of the Assembly, Melissa will continue her fight for equity and justice for all working-class families in her home District.