Koda Mehalba knew where to find the person that it would be the hardest to acknowledge a fundamental truth about gender identity – the mirror.
“Coming out to yourself can be daunting,” said Koda, who was recently promoted to an Assistant Head Teller at the TD Bank store in South Peabody, MA. Koda identifies as a transgender man and is currently in transition.
Koda’s saving grace is having a strong community of friends and people within the LGBTQ2+ community.
“Knowing there is a community of people identifying like yourself is an incredibly powerful feeling,” he said.
Another strong support system is Koda’s employer – TD Bank.
“It is so important for a company to take a stand and be a part of something current, to be on the side that embraces equality, and to be openly supportive and go beyond for their people. That is what I find to be really special,” he said. There’s a lot of transparency here, about how TD’s message is very supportive.”
Coming out to his family has been difficult, although as he acknowledged, there appears to be a generational and cultural gap in understanding and accepting gender transitions. That made it all the more important to have community and workplace support.
TD had a system in place to make it easy
Koda came to TD a year ago and had concerns as he was in the process of transitioning. As with any new job, there is some uncertainty as to how you will fit in, and Koda thought that his gender transition could be a significant issue. But at TD, Koda found workplace equality where people are encouraged to embrace their identities and bring their whole self to work.
“I didn’t have to bring it up, my gender identity and preferred pronoun during on-boarding—it was acknowledged from the get go,” he said. “Resources were already set up for me, such as email and business cards. My managers and supervisors made sure everything was already in place for me.”
He is also encouraged by the Bank’s decision to be a Platinum Supporter of WorldPride 2019 in New York and the recent TD Diversity & Inclusion Summit.
Hopes for the future
Koda would encourage media and others to expand coverage to include more members of the LGBTQ2+ population.
“It’s very important to cover gender diverse people,” Koda said.
Taking photos/singing outside of work
During his free time, Koda is a photographer who loves taking portraits, and a singer who performs in musical theater in venues located in the North Shore outside of Boston.
The theater community has been a strong support system for Koda, and photography an important medium for expression.
“There’s so much comfort in doing what you love and being your whole self all along the way. I’m grateful for all the people in my life who raise me up,” he said.