a Tour
a Tour

Jul 01, 2021

Meet the Member: Mel Van De Graaff (they/them)

We sat down with Mel to learn more about their career, the process of transitioning, and how we can best support the LGBTQ+ community.

Q: Tell me more about the work that you do

Mel: I’m a Content Specialist. This is a combination of information, education, and content marketing for clients, products, and services, ultimately helping them with their SEO. I work mainly for health and wellness businesses, with a specialty in mental health.

I started as a generalist in 2015 to build my portfolio in a time where there wasn’t a lot of information in mental health. Wanting to fill that gap, I reached out to companies to help create the copy to target those struggling with mental health.

Part of the work I do is writing about those in the transgender community. Some examples are what’s involved with a phalloplasty and why being transgender is not a mental disorder (because people still have that misconception). Since a lot of companies know I am transgender, I work with them to position their marketing in a way that it can be inclusive.


Q: Do you feel that there has been a shift in inclusivity?

Mel: I feel we have more that we can improve on as society. However, companies began to see that there is an untapped market for recognizing the transgender community, which has created a domino effect and ended up sparking the conversation. We don’t stop existing once June is over, so its important we keep the conversation going.


Q: What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? Are there any exciting projects that you’re currently working on?

Mel: I feel like I am always learning something. I wanted to be a student forever after college, and this is the closest I will get while working. I have to interview other people a lot; there is an tapped wealth that other people have in terms of information. Learning about them and their backgrounds help me to see other perspectives I normally wouldn’t have.

As for projects, I am just finishing up for a sexual health website on a brief guide to what transitioning looks like. We want to educate people who are not transgender on what the experience has been to transition so they can be supportive allies. Many people who aren’t transgender don’t realize the complications; it typically takes people a couple of years to fully transition.

That is the start of a project that digs deeper into transitioning where I will write more in depth posts about each step of the process, stay tuned!


Q: Has The Shop impacted the way that you work?

Mel: Yes, I have been so much more productive. I was working at home with my partner and there are so many distractions. Here, those distractions do not exist which helps me to stay focused and not procrastinate. It’s also been great mentally to be able to go somewhere, especially coming out of COVID.


Q: What do you think is Salt Lake City’s best kept secret?

Mel: The vertical diner. It is completely plant based and LGBTQ+ friendly.


Q: What does Pride mean to you? Can you tell us a little more about your experience transitioning?

Mel: Being proud of who you are and not hiding it anymore. Pride is also a way to remember our history and that a lot of it is sad because it’s been violent against oppressors. However, the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way and are so much better of now than we were before.


In 2015 I started to socially transition and then started hormones. Over these 6 years, there definitely been some hard parts but I am in a place now where I can now help people learn to accept themselves. I didn’t have that, so I am glad to be that for someone else and make their lives a tiny bit easier.


Q: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Mel: I want to normalize the workplace offering pronouns. It lets people know you will be supportive of whatever pronouns they choose. You can do this through your email signature, or when greeting a new person to allow them that safe space.


Mel often hangs out on our 4th floor commons, and welcomes any questions about content writing, transitioning, and the LGBTQ+ community. “There are no dumb questions”! Trust us, you will leave the conversation better, and more knowledgeable. June may be wrapping up, but it is important that we continue the conversation.