Debra Davis

Executive Director of the Gender Education Center
Educator & Trainer


       “Debra Davis leads by example. She serves as a role model, and mentor for the GLBT community in the areas of education, acceptance, and advocating for the transgender community among others. She is a quiet, steadfast, and tenacious activist who builds and cultivates relationships in order to advance the cause of GLBT individuals.” (Human Rights Campaign introduction at their 2001 Leadership Award presentation)

       Debra Davis is a high school librarian who came out in May of 1998 as a transgender woman at Southwest High School in the Minneapolis Public Schools. This highly-publicized transition was believed to be one of the first successful transitions in the nation, of a transgender person working with children in secondary education. She literally left school on Friday as a man and successfully returned on the following Monday as the woman, Debra Davis. As you can imagine, it was headline news both locally and nationally for days. She worked successfully for the next three and one-half years in that position and recently retired after 32 years in public education.

       Debra is also the Executive Director of the Gender Education Center, a small non-profit organization of differently gendered people dedicated to support, advocacy and education. Over the last 20 years she has presented over 1,100 workshops and presentations involving over 40,000 participants (details can be found in our current outreach report located on this site.) She is called as an expert witness in court, is consulted by employers, law enforcement, human rights agencies and nonprofit service providers regarding policies that affect transgender people and is especially effective in coordinating workplace transitions for transgender employees. Debra is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and conventions through-out the country. Many colleges bring her to their campus to draw attention to LGBT issues. Her dynamic, thought-provoking presentation move and inspire audiences.

       She continues to be an out, proud and visible transgender person working for human rights in our communities.

    *     "2009 Diversity Program if the Year Award" - Millikin University, Ill
    *     Curve Magazine's "2006 - Making Waves" One of the six trans activists every dyke should know about.
    *     "2005 PRIDE Award" for people who "embody PRIDE: rallying individuality, diversity & equality."
    *     Human Rights Campaign 2001 Bryan Coyle Leadership Award.
    *     Lavender Magazine’s “1999 Person of the Year.”
    *     Twin Cities Pride 2000 celebration's "Grand Marshal" (Minnesota’s summer GLBT celebration with over 400,000 participants).
    *     Voted Best GLBT Community Activist in 2000 by a “Creme de la Creme” reader’s poll.
    *     Recipient of the 1999 Human Rights Fund Award by Philanthrofund Foundation.
    *     "Outstanding Leadership in Community Activism 2004 Award" by the Madison Area Transgender Association.
    *     "Strength, Courage & Leadership While Working for Equality & Justice Award" in 2003 by OutFront Minnesota.
    *     “Acts of Resistance Award” by the 1998 GLBT Youth Network Building Conference.
    *     2004, 1998, 1996, 1995 “Spokesperson of the Year” by the City of Lakes Crossgender Community.

Debra Davis & the Gender Education Center
P.O. Box 1861, Maple Grove, MN 55311
gec at


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