Who is “Mama” Mish?

Michelle Sheppard – Radio Personality

Michelle Sheppard is a *Transgender woman and proud parent of two amazing daughters. Born and raised in St Louis, Missouri, USA and now calls Australia home.

As she is affectionately known, Michelle Sheppard, or “Mama Mish”, is a highly respected presenter, advocate, and trainer in the gender equity space. As a transgender woman, she appreciates the difficulties within the grey created by the gender divide, traverses them herself, and willingly takes others on the ride with her.

Michelle brings her experience as a trans woman into her work, running diversity, equity, and inclusion training, mentoring colleagues, and providing extra support to anyone transitioning or affirming their gender.

Her productions carve space for meaningful conversations, breaking down barriers and successfully bringing transgender stories, voices, and issues to the fore of national discussions.

Michelle’s radio shows have been translated into podcast form, immortalising transgender voices and issues of our time for future generations. She sees her radio work and its success as a culmination of self and community discovery that radio has facilitated for her.

Through her advocacy for LGBTIQ+ employment, Michelle Sheppard raises awareness of LGBTIQ+ people facing multiple barriers to participation in employment, especially for Gender Diverse minorities.

She cofounded LGBTIQ Jobs, a jobs platform designed for businesses to directly target LGBTIQ+ people under special employment measures, resulting in winning the Excellence in Small Business award through Victorina Pride Awards.

Through her tireless advocacy, Michelle partnered with the not-for-profit organisation, Fitted for Work, helping those experiencing disadvantage get ready for work, and the Victorian Government Department of Jobs to expand job opportunities for transgender women. She advocated for the Victorian Government to commit $227,000 in funding to help transgender job seekers overcome barriers to employment.

Fitted for Work’s pilot Transgender Women Program will provide 200 transwomen and gender-diverse jobseekers with tailored support to gain work or transition while at work, improving their economic security.

The program provided mentoring, outfitting services, work readiness workshops, and networking. It will also connect participants to health, legal and financial support.

As the Senior Adviser of LGBTIQ+ Inclusion programs in the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) she has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues and barriers that LGBTIQ+ communities face in the workplace and to create and implement policy-driven remediations that build inclusivity both within the DTP portfolio workforce and for our customer base throughout Victoria.

She has gone above and beyond the boundaries and duties of her role to connect and align disparate public service LGBTIQ+ working groups and help them achieve more together than they would have been able to act separately.

Some of her high-profile engagements include JOY 94.9, Brown‑Forman, Tennis Australia, AFL, RMIT, ANZ, BMW, and Channel 9.

She embodies dignity, grace, and the change needed to make a positive difference in others’ lives, empowers women and challenges barriers to inclusion, discrimination, and harassment.

Michelle has worked in designing and implementing inclusion and diversity programs for workplaces to attract, retain and promote a diverse workforce since 2014. She believes in empowering all minorities as a top priority to help all our communities feel heard. She has strong relationship-building skills and has worked at all levels, including board, executive, people, culture, and front-line staff. She can tactfully raise awareness of equality and diversity-related issues so that it does not alienate people.

Michelle has a creative and inquisitive mind and can inspire, challenge and support people across different boundaries. Her goal is to achieve a work environment where all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.

Michelle possesses high-level advisory and communication skills and has experience working across various mediums, including social media, radio, and television.


Michelle is the former host, co-host, co-producer, and driving force of Transpositions, JOY 94.9’s flagship Transgender weekly radio program on-air for over three years. Now Michelle is a co-host of JOY’s Family Matters radio show, a weekly program dedicated to rainbow families, as well as the host and producer of Trans POV (Transgender Point of View)

The radio work has provided the time and space for Michelle to discover herself and the diversity of community radio. The powerful combination of self and community through the community radio platform has seen her efforts raise the public profile and national dialogue of Transgender, Gender Diverse and Intersex issues on a national scale. Michelle’s dedicated work has explored such complex issues as transgender dating, parenting for rainbow families, domestic violence, sexual health, the political climate around marriage equality, and the impact the plebiscite will have on the LGBTIQ+ community. Michelle and her young daughters were featured on the national news & current affairs TV program ‘Insight’. She allowed cameras into her family’s life in the hopes that it would encourage others also live their authentic life.

Michelle has realized her true power is beyond the microphone but with the microphone in hand. She remains firmly on the mic with Family Matters educating, informing and spreading love while taking it to the level. Michelle is hands-on with her approach to making the world a better place; she reaches the masses via the radio and reaches those with real power to affect our lives with her advocacy and policy work, guiding big corporates and other organisations to develop best practices to support their workers and clients.

Transpositions ran as an hourly show every week, exploring the many challenges faced not only by Transgender women but also by women in the wider community. Transpositions featured such guests as Senior Constable Gabrielle Tyacke, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) for Victoria Police, Andrew Ives, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, and community members sharing their unique stories and notable personalities who make up the patchwork of diverse life. The collection of Transgender stories and histories that have been collected as a result of the radio program being podcast has created a fantastic resource for the community to access. This resource toolkit will stand the test of time, allowing generations to listen to and watch the video blogs of our Trans communities’ stories, experiences, views and news. Michelle has been a major driving force in making this community resource of a high standard and even possible. iTunes


Family Matters was piloted in 2016, and Michelle has lent her breadth of experience to the ever-growing family of Rainbow parents and children. Through many shows, she has explored the adoption amendments, the ever-growing opposition to Rainbow families by the ACL and the complexities of healthcare and custardy issues for those who identify as Transgender, Gender Diverse or Intersex. Family Matters remains one of the most listened-to programs of JOY 94.9 and a firm favourite among listeners. iTunes

Now with Trans POV, Michelle is taking what we learned from Transpositions further and getting back to sharing stories of the community beyond the 101 introductory because the conversations involving the transgender community have gone beyond basic single answers.

As well as a reoccurring guest on various programs looking for a transgender perspective.

View podcasts at www.joy.org.au

Advocacy & Policy Work:

Michelle is now a sought-after public speaker and guest blogger through radio work. Michelle uses her public profile to host seminars on LGBTI employment and work issues, raising awareness in employers within the Banking, Energy, Retail, Education and Health Care industries. Her advocacy led to Sheppard consulting and working with corporate, universities, community organisations and secondary colleges by providing expert knowledge and guidance on diversity and inclusion principles and best practices. Such companies Sheppard has presented include ANZ Bank and AFL football, to just name a few.

Michelle Sheppard’s work has attracted attention beyond the DTP portfolio from other government entities and the private sector, resulting in greater awareness of the need to embed inclusive practices, including facilities, expanded educational opportunities for workplaces, and better outcomes for the LGBTIQ+ community.

She is working to introduce the Gender Affirmation Resource across the entire Department of Transport, further supporting the LGBTIQ+ community in the workplace. She is a driving force and critical advocate advising the whole of the Victorian government on all-gender-inclusive facilities as part of the Interbuild project to meet the needs of trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people.

Her work on gender affirmation and action has been sought as a model by Sports and Recreation Victoria, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Vic Water and Australia Post. Michelle has also been instrumental in developing and delivering the transport ally authorised officer training that Authorised Officers and Customer Service staff have attended. This innovative program focuses on improving passenger safety and customer service for LGBTIQ+ communities.

Michelle created the first transport inter-agency LGBTIQ+ working group, introducing a safe space for discussing issues, aligning PRIDE, and training strategies, aligning policy and service delivery changes, and discussing common concerns across the entire transport industry.

Its expansion is leading to more significant industry initiatives and changing traditional events from social spaces to engagement, opening new community and employment pathways. This has created a unified voice with DTP and other transport stakeholders working closely and deeply to increase diversity and inclusion across the industry to increase LGBTIQ+ employment opportunities in government-funded major transport infrastructure initiatives and projects.

Supporting LGBTI Job Seekers:

Inspiring youth and adults through radio and speaking engagements, guest speaker for AFL Essendon FC Purple Bombers, Sheppard embodies her role as a public speaker for rainbow parenting groups and employment forums for Transgender job seekers.

Through Sheppard’s personal experience of discrimination and prejudice as a Transwoman, she saw a gap in the employment market for inclusive and specific opportunities for those who are Transgender, Gender Diverse and Intersex, as well as Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.


  • Winner of the ANZ Excellence in business in the 2016 GLOBE Community Awards which recognises excellence in our community.

Radio Personality: TransPositions | Family Matters | Trans POV

  • The LOTL Power List 2016
  • AU LGBTI Awards / Shortlisted for MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster & Presenter of the year 2017
  • AU LGBTI Awards / Nominated for Journalist of the Year 2018

*Male to Female Non-Op Bigender Transsexual:

Someone born Male but transitions to Female whom has medically transitioned to align their sex with their gender identity but does not intend to have sex reassignment surgery. There are numerous reasons for this decision from unsatisfactory surgical results to those that just wish to keep their original plumbing. Non-Op’s may or may not still have surgeries for other things such as facial feminization, breast augmentation or orchiectomy even if they do not get sex reassignment surgery.

Bigender is a related term of transgender.

The difference between bigender and transgender is that bigender is having two genders simultaneously, eg both male and female while transgender is having changed gender identity from male to female, or from female to male.

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