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 life, she has fought to break down barriers and overcome adversity in critical issues including housing, civil rights, women’s reproductive health, and policing.
Melissa’s pioneering role advocating for New Yorkers started in 1999, after she was elected to serve as a judicial delegate in Manhattan’s 66th Assembly District, becoming the first trans person elected to office in New York State. For more than a decade, Melissa’s neighbors in the 30th Assembly District, where she is currently running, have elected her to serve as a judicial delegate. With the support of her District’s voters, she hopes to continue to serve her constituents 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.
I am ready to bring my experience to Albany to work for Queens! It is time for the representation we deserve.
Melissa 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.
As an active member in local, state and national politics, Melissa currently serves as Secretary for the Northern Regular Democratic Club and is a member of the Powhatan Democratic Club, 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.
Before moving to Woodside more than 11 years ago where she bought a home at Boulevard Gardens, Melissa served on Community Board 2 in Manhattan where she worked on developing vital green space on the High Line. In this role, she also oversaw the creation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, an effort that was supported by meatpacking unions and small business owners fighting to keep good paying jobs from being destroyed by residential development.
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 and began what she calls the ”change” in her late 30s, becoming 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.