The Gender Education Center (GEC) started as
a branch of the City of Lakes Crossgender Communitys educational
outreach program. In the late 80s and early 90s this program did a
handful of presentations each year.
As more and more transgender people left their closets and homes they found few, if any, safe places and fewer friendly people. Because of our work, thousands of people now have a greater understanding of transgender people. There are more safe places, and more transgender people feel empowered to leave their closets and be a part of our world. Our community is connected to work with each other when group action is needed in human rights. Transgender people also know they are not alone when facing workplace transitions.
The Gender Education Center is a Minnesota-based advocacy and education non-profit organization working toward understanding, acceptance and support for the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) communities with an emphasis on differently gendered people. Starting our work in 1990, we became a Minnesota non-profit corporation in 1994. Believing that much of the hatred in our world is rooted in fear of the unknown, we go where there is opportunity to work for change to provide resource information, presentations, workshops, training, and consulting on transgender issues. We work side by side with transgender people who are trying to live their lives. We advocate for change in work places, schools, government & law enforcement, and health care systems on issues of basic human rights with people who identify as differently gendered.
Even though Minnesota has had basic protection in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations for transgender people included in its Human Rights Act since 1993, very few people or organizations understand what this means. When transgender people have good information and know they are not alone, the result is social change. When one transgender employee transitions in a work place, the entire staff learns about acting with respect regardless of inner feelings or religious beliefs. Employers learn that this is also the law; we challenge management to set good examples.
When transgender people are turned away by organizations or agencies we help them dialogue about gender and what it is. This has caused changes in mission statements and understanding at many places in the Twin Cities. We are involved with transgender HIV/Aids advocacy, education and housing. We also work with youth who are questioning their gender identity and with helping professionals when they need help with gender issues.
The Gender Education Center's, Executing Director, Debra Davis has been actively involved in public education and training for over 45 years, and has directed the Gender Education Center since its creation. GEC works in concert with organizations of all kinds addressing the Human Rights issues of differently gendered people.
We have found personal contact with transgender people essential to social change. We need to confront our discomfort with gender differences by face to face contact and dialogue.
Over the last 8 years the Gender Education Center gave 232 presentations & workshops involving 8,200 participants. (See: 2011 - 2014 Outreach Report) In the last twenty five years we have been to colleges and universities 500 times, 80 High Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools, given over 200 workshops to members of the medical field and other helping professions, held 209 training sessions for companies and corporations through out the country, 87 presentations at religious institutions, 182 workshops for educators and teachers and dozens of other presentations to a wide variety of diverse groups. We have been interviewed in the media by radio, television and newspapers 162 times about transgender issues. Over the last 25 years we have given over 1,240 presentations (complete list of where we've been) involving nearly 47,000 participants.
Our award winning web site, www.debradavis.org, has been very successful. More than 150 pages of information, averaging hundreds of hits each day. We update the site with new information, photos of events and colleges we visit and new articles of interest on a regular basis.
Other transgender organizations exist that cater to the social and psychological needs of the transgender community. We target outreach, education, advocacy and social change as a primary goal. GEC works in partnership with these organizations as well as with organizations in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities. We work in alliance with the University of Minnesota - Program in Human Sexuality, nationally known for its work in the gender field as well as with the major independent therapists and clinics who work with the transgender community throughout the state. We also work with other local and National Transgender organizations as well as mainstream organizations on topics and issues concerning the transgender population (ie. Chrysalis changing their policy to include transgender women, and public school systems when dealing with transgender employees)
We have helped dozens of organizations with the transition of transgender employees, giving these employees the opportunity to continue their employment in a safe, respectful environment. In most situations, transgender people are fired when they come out at their place of work. In Minnesota, transgender people are covered under the Human Rights Act in regards to employment, housing, and public accommodation. The Gender Education Center spends much of time explaining what this means to employers, and the fact that they can not discriminate against a transgender employee just because they are differently gendered. We have given over 200 workshops in the workplace on these issues.
We also work with community service organizations giving training support to their staff. Some of these agencies include OutFront Minnesota, Minnesota Aids Project, Planned Parenthood, Youth & Aids Project, The Bridge, Golden Valley, Bloomington and the City of Minneapolis Human Rights Commissions, Chrysalis Women's Center, District 202 (for GLBTQ youth), Sexual Violence Center, Alexandra House and Casa de Esperanza, (shelters for battered women) CADA Women's Shelter in Mankato - MN and the Red Door Clinic.
Recently we have worked with elementary, middle schools and high schools, training students and staff on GLBT issues and on how to integrate these issues into their policies and curriculum. We were also involved in projects that get GLBT books into metropolitan school libraries.
We continue to work with medical institutions and hospitals such as Mayo clinic in Rochester, Ramsey County Hospital, North Memorial Hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center, U of M Hospitals, Aurora Medical Center in Milwaukee - WI and Allina Health Systems giving workshops and presentations to their staff and also as a resource when dealing with special problems with members of our community.
We also receive referrals from many GLBT organizations when they get requests for transgender information. We have even worked with the Hennepin County Sheriff's office in the formation of a policy and guidelines for the treatment of transgender offenders when they are being incarcerated.
The Gender Education Center is a community-based, volunteer organization. There is no paid staff. Debra Davis is the executive director and makes the day to day operational decisions. Over the years dozens of volunteers have worked in the organization and served on panels and presented workshops donating hundreds of volunteer hours.
Freedom of gender expression.
The elimination of unfair discriminatory practices on the basis of gender orientation.
A working relationship with the health care community.
An awareness, understanding and acceptance of gender diversity within the social service, academic and religious communities.
An honest, realistic, and unsensationalized portrayal of the gender community in the media.
A meaningful place at the table in the GLB communities.
GENDER EDUCATION CENTER
P.O. Box 1861
Maple Grove, MN 55311
gec @ debradavis.org