Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Melinda Lee

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Melinda Lee is a gender non-conforming, non-binary person. They were assigned female at birth, and they come from Cambodian, Chinese, and Vietnamese descent. They were born and raised in Long Beach, California, which is predominantly Cambodian or Mexican. Long Beach, Lee explains, experiences a lot of gang violence where it wasn’t unusual to hear gunshots every day. As a kid Lee stayed on their block, sometimes going to the nearby Dollar Store or Asian Market. As part of their school curriculum, they were taught the Cambodian language. They have three older sisters, and they were raised by their grandmother who died when they were 14. They also have a couple of younger half-brothers, but they didn’t grow up with them. Their dad wasn’t around, perhaps struggling with addiction, and their mother was in the city but didn’t take care of them. They went to a few different high schools, one being a progressive high school in western Massachusetts where they realized they weren’t straight. They began thinking more about their gender beyond the binary in their early 20s and found that they were attracted to folks who weren’t cis men. They’ve come out, and their family is supportive of their identity. Lee also talks about how gender non-conforming people are constantly rendered invisible. They believe getting top surgery would help them feel more whole, but they also want kids and want to do more research before pursuing it. They are in a committed, loving relationship for over a year. They volunteered at the Sexual Violence Center and Lobby Day at OutFront. They did some letter writing for Black and Pink, which is an organization that connects those who are incarcerated with those on the outside. They also served as the Chair of the Trans Commission, which is now the Trans Advisory and Action Team for two or three years. They are currently the Assistant Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life.

Item Information:

Identifier
6395w728n
Collection
Oral Histories with People of Color
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
Lee, Melinda
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Aug. 17, 2017
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
Black and Pink
Khmer Rouge
Lobby Days
OutFront Minnesota
The Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans
Trans Advisory and Action Team
Places
Minnesota > Hennepin County > City of Minneapolis > Minneapolis
California > Los Angeles > Long Beach
Topic(s)
Asian Americans
Dating
Families
Gender diversity
Gender identity
Hormone therapy
Labeling
Language
LGBTI community
Politics
Pronoun
Rape
Schools
Sexual orientation
Social media
Surgery
Transphobia
Violence
White supremacy movements--United States
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
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