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Melissa Sue Robinson, a politician and businessperson from Nampa, Idaho, was born Charles Edward Staelens Jr. in Jackson, Michigan on July 16, 1950. Having lived most of her life in Lansing, Michigan, Robinson moved to Nampa in 2008. Robinson had gender reassignment surgery in December 1998 and was one of the identical twins featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show entitled "when One Identical Twin Changes Genders" in September 2005.
Robinson is the former owner of a construction company and filed for bankcrupty in 2005. She obtained a BA in political science from Michigan State University in 1994 at age 44. In 2001, after a transgender woman, Nikki Nicholas, was murdered near Detroit, Robinson founded the National Association for the Advancement of Transgendered People, a not-for-profit organization which advocated for transgender people worldwide. Robinson has run for several political offices in Michigan, and helped to pass anti-discrimination ordinances that included gender identity and expression in Lansing and East Lansing, Michigan.
Robinson ran for Mayor of Lansing, Michigan in 2003, for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2004 and 2006, the Michigan State Senate in a special election in 2006, and was running for Mayor of Nampa, Idaho in 2009 and garnder less the 3% of the vote. In the races in Michigan she was forced to use her old male name next to her new name on the ballot due to a Michigan law stating that candidates who have had a change of name within ten years of the election must include both names on the ballot. Robinson unsuccessfully fought that law in 2006, and it ceased to apply to her in 2008. Ran in 2010 for Legislative District 12 and garndered 27% of the vote.
Because Robinson's identical twin was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, the twins participated in a 1992 National Institute for Mental Health twin study, in which she served as a control. Both twins were mentioned (not by name) in Dr. Torrey's book "Schizophrenia And Manic-Depressive Disorder: The Biological Roots Of Mental Illness As Revealed By The Landmark Study Of Identical Twins" by E. Fuller Torrey, Bowler, Torrey, Edward H. Taylor, Irving I. Gottesman and Ann E. Bowler Publication Date: 1995-03-31.