Debra Davis

What others have to say . . .
(about workshops, training & presentations)


"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 Lavender's Person of the Year 1999. Although Davis came out at work in 1998, she faced greater adversity in 1999. In the midst of it all, Davis has maintained a sense of dignity, grace, and perseverance while continuing to educate; she's served as an inspiration, role model, trailblazer, and unbridled leader in the struggle for the rights of all people to receive their just treatment as human beings. Davis's personal and professional embodiment of courage has contributed (and will continue to do so) to the GLBT community's struggle for acceptance far beyond the next millennium. It is our privilege to honor her in this year-end issue." Lavender Magazine - journalist Ellen Lansky

"I can still remember the first day she worked as Debra. In first period, each student was given a handout regarding the change that pertained to David Nielsen. We discussed use of correct pronouns and respect for a person's choices and decisions. After that, I realized that gawking and staring were imminent; I was proven correct. Absolutely everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted to at least catch a glimpse of our new and improved librarian. Crowds formed outside the door of the library as people stopped to see Debra's blond wig, blouse, skirt and high heels. And I have to be perfectly honest, even I peered through the window to take a peek. Curiosity got the best of everyone that day, however, Debra went on as usual, despite the hundreds of eyes resting upon her. I admired her poise and confidence."
N.H. - Southwest High School Student

"As the only out transgendered librarian in a public school in the country, Davis is consistently a focal point of vicious personal attacks by the religious right. Her activism aside, that alone deserves a medal of honor." “The Crème de la Crème:” Lavender Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 135 - July 28, 2000

" . . . WOW - to see a woman that is so brave and wishes to use her journey in life as a way to empower others was humbling. I could feel love from her even though she has been attacked at so many different levels. Her bravery, her appearance, her words and her life challenged me. I am very impressed when people face incredible odds with nothing to look at as a point of reference and still find the courage inside of themselves to continue." L.D. Student, U of M

"I do not doubt you have endeared yourself to many by your honest sharing, sense of humor, integrity, and love for your students. You have said yes to a very important challenge to educate people in any way possible. Let me assure you that you have planted many seeds that will indeed grow into a more just and equitable garden." L.T. & R.J. - Cretin-Durham Hall, High SchoolTeachers

". . . Debra Davis is a person I’ll remember until the final nail is driven into my coffin! This was the most interesting and enlightening presentation I have ever attended in my college career. I think Debra is an outstanding woman with amazing courage. . ." C.H. Student - Macalester College

"I would be less than frank if I didn’t let you know that a number of families expressed dismay at the “subject matter.” (transgender) From the moment you began to speak, however, it was evident that something special was about to happen . . . You instantly had the group in the palm of your hand and proceeded in the most gentle, but undaunted way, to educate everyone in the audience. Better yet, you succeeded in allowing us to understand our own prejudices and address them in a positive and forthright manner. Change occurred before our eyes. For that, we will always be grateful . . . "
W.S. - President, Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition Int’l

". . . Your openness and honesty allowed us to alter our rigid paradigms of thinking regarding gender, sexuality, and presentation . . . I have thought a lot about you recently and of your mission of educating the public on transgender issues . . . I think of your heroism of standing up alone, for yourself as well as your countless “sisters”, to educate the not always accepting public. Your willingness to allow Debra to thrive and educate others on behalf of so many “sisters” that are not able, truly will make an impact on people’s lives. Debra, you are an inspiration to me."
B.T. - Regional Director-Counseling Clinics

"I thought the presentation was really incredible. You provided a human face to an abstract issue” . . . “ Wow! Your words enhance understanding and compassion. YOU GO GIRL” . . . “You are a beautiful woman inside and out. Most importantly you are a beautiful human being” . . . “This was an incredible portrayal of a normally “taboo” subject” . . . “ I was extraordinarily impressed by how open, articulate, and compassionate Debra is” . . . “You have many reasons to be angry for how others treat you. Your ability to transcend those feelings is amazing. . . "
Participants - Transgender issues and advocacy workshop

". . .Your talk was amazing. It totally opened my mind up to a subject that I knew little about. Your words were an inspiration to me” . . . “You are a remarkable woman and a great speaker. I am amazed by you!” . . . “Your strength is truly inspirational” . . . “ What an eye opening experience. Thank you for speaking to us. It was an honor” . . .”Thank you very much for all your insight! You’re truly an inspiration” . . . “Your spirit was and is truly inspirational. You give off such a positive aura, and I feel very fortunate to have met you . . ." U of M - First Year Students, Orientation Leaders

"Thank you so much for coming to SIU to speak. I can’t tell you how much I learned and how much visibility you brought to Transgender issues in Southern Illinois and the country - but also the understanding you created WAS PHENOMENAL! . . . you are such a sweet beautiful lady and I am proud to call you my friend." K.K. - Southern Illinois University, GLBT Group President

". . . I think Debra is a great speaker, she doesn't beat around the bush. She teaches with an open mind, and she is just so fantastically & innocently powerful & strong . . . Very good, very informal. She's a cute lady, lots of fun. . ."Students-U of Minnesota

". . . Her courage and self-respect is admirable and infectious . . ."
A.A. - Macalester College Student

". . . You can tell she was a teacher! She has a phenomenal ability to successfully convey new information to people . . ."
St. Olaf College Student

". . . The information you shared, your style of presenting and sense of humor while at the same time being very clear and precise about your topic was extremely well received and a great learning experience for us all. . ."
B.R. - Sexual Violence Center

". . .Your students at Southwest are lucky to have a woman like you at their school. Everyone in the world should have a role model who lives the motto, ‘Above all else, be yourself!’. . ." K.U. - Professor, Carleton College

" . . .We appreciated your information, your passion and your honesty. We discovered that we have much to learn and you gave us a good place to start . . ." Joint Committee for Ministry to and with Gay and Lesbian persons, their families, and friends

" . . .Very enlightening! You are a wonderful person and I feel lucky to have met you. Love Ya! Wish you could talk to my parents and make them understand." Student, Stillwater High School

" . . .Your ability to understand the wide variety of dynamic relationships that these people are involved in was clearly evident in their willingness to share, listen and learn, You presented in a very relaxed atmosphere, which was greatly appreciated. Your commitment to education and advocacy, and willingness to share your story is truly inspirational." Hennepin County, Community Health Department.

" . . .Just wanted to let you know that I've been getting *FANTASTIC* feedback about your campus visit . . . you are a wonderful woman." President, Kalamazoo College - GLBTSO

" . . .You are a very strong and courageous woman and your attitude to others people's feelings was amazing . . . the world would be a better place if more people had the outlook on life that you do . . . we will never forget meeting you, stay as stunning as you are and don't be shy to come see the quilt square we sewed for you" Students, Minneapolis South High School

" . . . I am so grateful she came to speak to us . . . her story touched my heart . . . the frankness of Debra is both encouraging and enlightening, that we all should listen to our inner voice and be 'true to our self.' . . . Debra really brought home the idea that transgendered people are just people, like you and me, like everyone else. She was warm and personable and addressed the class as would any skilled teacher. . . I found a new respect for differences in people. This was a very enlightening experience for me. . . Debra Davis brought this issue (transgender) up front and personal, as a real person. She handled it with grace and dignity. . ." Students, "Women: Images and Realities" college class

" . . . I loved the way Debra defined gender as the sex between your ears. . .Debra was amazing. I think that what she is doing with education is phenomenal. This is what needs to be done in order for everyone else to receive equal treatment. Her work is very motivational and I walked out of the presentation feeling revived and energized. . . It was probably one of the most interesting classes ever. I was just so amazed how powerful and strong Debra is. It was such a learning experience for me and opened up my mind to so many new possibilities. She is definitely a role model. I found myself leaving the class so happy. . . I learned so many things about sexuality, gender, stereotypes, and people's own ignorance. I felt I walked out of class with more knowledge of not only who Debra Davis is but who I am as a person and as a female. . . Hearing Debra Davis speak was so enlightening! It really gave me a great deal of appreciation for the wonderful difference one person can make in the world. . . I think the whole class bonded after Debra spoke. She told such an amazing story that was so interesting and emotional. I wanted to cry after hearing her story because it was so emotional and spiritual. I have a new outlook on life. I have a new respect for transgender people. . . I felt like crying because she was just so inspiring and such a rare kind of person to meet. I couldn't help but think that she was an angel sent to help other transgender people. I thought she was a wonderful roll model for everyone. . . She helped me understand by putting such a wonderful face with this particular form of diversity (transgender). Her openness and willingness to answer questions created a very comfortable and interesting learning atmosphere. I could have listened to her all day and I think there was so much to learn from her." Students, "Family Social Services - Preparation for working with Families" college class

" . . . At first I must admit I was a little shocked about Debra, but after about a minute I was used to her and I absolutely fell in love with her. I was so inspired by her courage and her strong sense of self. I think everyone can learn from her in gaining a higher confidence and doing what is right for you. Everyone has the right to be who he or she wants to be . . . My mind was opened and I was touched." A.D. Student, U of M

" . . . I was profoundly moved and spiritually touched by Debra's words. Her courage to be herself in a world that doesn't really allow and except diversity all that well, has made me feel that there are some really strong and courageous people living among us, and she is one of those people . . . I feel that she has completely motivated me to live my life as "I" feel is the correct way for myself . . . I have never before been exposed to anyone like Debra. Listening to her speak gave me the feeling of embarking on something new, something that was going to forever change my perspective on life. . . Her life story is amazing. A life story that will stay in my memory forever, as a reminder of how incredible the human spirit can be." J.W. Student, U of M

" . . . I loved her final thoughts at the end. Self Esteem, look forward to each new day, nobody can make me hate, I know that I'm OK, we all have a destiny, believe in a supreme being, and each of us having the power to change the world. These words are simple but have so much meaning. Debra made me realize so much and made the world seem so beautiful to me. This is what life is about." Student, U of M

" . . . Having Debra Davis come in and talk to us was incredible to hear. This woman was amazing. She brought a whole new side of every student into light on this day. She created an atmosphere of excitement and openness and I loved this. I admire this in people, to have the ability and desire to inspire others in an enlightened way was assume."

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

© - debra davis -


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