Michaela Speaks
Michaela speaks passionately about a wide range of transgender and LGBT subjects.  She has been an inspiring speaker for countless conferences, universities and organizations as well as taken seat as an expert for panels and workshops.  

Her powerful speeches combined with her strong yet vulnerable presence create a relevant & emotional connection that captures the audience.  She speaks from the heart, sharing her own real life truths, mistakes, experiences and triumphs. Most importantly, her words are empowering and often give answers to the internal questions many of the audience members have (but may never have had the courage to ask).     

Whether listening to her amazing personal stories of fear and bullying to redemption; her intimate relationship with LGBT youth as a Board Member of The Trevor Project; her 40 years as a CEO and entrepreneur (from a male and female perspective); or her experience in forming the transgender labor project - CTWP, Michaela offers a highly unique set of skills and experiences as a speaker for your school/university, corporate or special event.

Where has Michaela been a Speaker?

  • Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance
  • Pepperdine University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • USC Keck School of Medicine
  • White Memorial Hospital
  • Livermore Labs
  • LA County SHADES Teen Court Program
  • Sacramento School District
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • University Synagogue
  • California State University Northridge
  • Ventura City Hall - Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • Los Angeles LGBT Transgender Job Fair
  • Los Angeles Police Department Health and Resource Fair
  • League of Women Voters
  • Temple Kol Tikvah
  • Metropolitan Church of Los Angeles
Speaking Topics

When Being the Perfect Husband Means Becoming a Woman: My Journey Through Transition

Through humor and heartbreak, Michaela draws from her own personal story to share how she learned to navigate the world and all it's challenges. From growing up in New York, surviving bullying, to deciding to become the perfect man and husband, and then, after 30 years of marriage and three beautiful children, finding  the courage to become the woman she always knew she was, Michaela tells the story of the unique challenges along her journey to womanhood, professional achievement, self-acceptance, and finally, love.

We’re All in Transition: Embracing Change of All Kinds

You might not be transgender, but perhaps at some point in your life, you struggled with your identity, your opinion of yourself, felt like you were a little on the outside looking in. Through her own personal narrative, Michaela takes audiences through her own journey – from a bullied young boy, to a strapping man, to finally, courageously becoming a woman and feeling at home in her body and soul. So many people today struggle with feeling at home in their bodies, struggle with self-acceptance and love. Michaela talks about how anyone can use the tools she’s learned to cultivate and find their authentic selves and finally feel HOME.

The New Glass Ceiling: Trans in the Workplace

Michaela was a born CEO – starting a car wash business at age 12, building the largest coin operated game company in California out of her parents garage at 21, and going on to operate a group of 18 highly successful restaurants. After spending nine years as the President of a National Franchise Association, Michaela left the business, to retreat into solitude as she transitioned from male to female. Returning to the corporate world as a woman, with fresh eyes and a new perspective of discrimination around her, she was determined to make changes, to end violence against women and the LGBT community that she witnessed in the workplace. She founded the California Transgender Workplace Project and speaks to corporations all over the state on improving conditions, creating a safe, LGBT-friendly workplace, and creating opportunities for women.

Staying Alive: Taking Darkness and Turning it into Light

Michaela can speak so eloquently on the topic of bullying because she was bullied.
As a child who felt different in ways she did not understand, she was bullied mercilessly, until she snapped one day after an ugly altercation with the class bully, and decided to become the toughest, strongest man she could be. It worked. President Lyndon Johnson himself commended her for her fitness exploits. But there was a price. Decades later, having built the “perfect life” as a man, with a loving wife, three beautiful children, and a successful career in business, she still couldn’t understand why, deep down, she felt like a failure and a fraud. Finding the courage to confront her true nature, her honest gender identity, she made the courageous transition from male to female. It felt like a victory until rejection by her family compounded her doubts  and challenged her will to live. At her darkest, she contemplated ending her life. But she survived and the tools she discovered by learning to be herself and to ask for help, ultimately turned her life around and set her on a path to help others do the same.

Parallel Transformation: Becoming a Jewish Woman

Like so many people, Michaela spent much of her young life feeling like she was on the outside, that she didn’t belong, looking for that feeling of security and home. Even as a child, she was a seeker, pouring through books on different religions, on spirituality, always searching. As a man, she married a woman, had three beautiful children, and built a life, hoping that gnawing feeling would go away. It didn’t. Until she went on hormones. Once Michaela began the process of acceptance, of transitioning, of finally feeling she was in the “correct” body for her soul, a surprising spiritual transformation followed. Everything fell into place. She felt drawn back to Judaism, the religion of her ancestors. It was b’shert. Attending an LGBT-friendly temple, she began the process of converting to Judaism, meeting with her rabbi, studying texts. For the first time, everything started to connect. Michaela speaks eloquently on the tremendous power of self-acceptance and how it opens the doorway for the path to transformation. Once she accepted all of the different aspects of herself, change happened. For her own Jewish naming ceremony, Michaela chose the middle name Irvi, Hebrew for “one who crosses over the river Jordan.” She learned that she wasn’t just becoming a woman, she was a Jewish woman. Finally feeling home.

What people think about Michaela

"You connected with the entire class. A lot of tears and heartfelt testimony during and after your presentation. Thank you ..."
Ron Rubine
Field Deputy
Councilmember Mitchell Englander
Los Angeles City Councilmember
President Pro TemporeTwelfth District and professor at Cal State Dominguez
"I was so happy that you could come and help us out at the Keck Medical School on Monday. I know that your presence made a HUGE difference to the students. What a wonderful opportunity to help future doctors make a difference for our
Elaine Suranie
USC Keck School of Medicine
Click here for more Testimonials
Booking Request
To bring Michaela to your college, conference or event (or if you have any questions about bookings), please do not hesitate to send us a message.