Debra Davis


Below are a few of the more popular photos that organizations have used for promoting events with Debra Davis.

      Debra Davis is the Executive Director of the Gender Education Center, a Minnesota-based advocacy and education organization working toward understanding, acceptance and support for the GLBT communities with an emphasis on transgender issues. Starting in 1991 the Gender Education Center has presented over 1,200 workshops and presentations involving many thousands of participants. GEC is one of the few transgender non-profit organization doing this kind of work in the Upper Midwest.

       In the spring of 1998, Ms. Davis came out as a transgender woman at her job as a Media Specialist at Southwest High School in the Minneapolis Public Schools. This highly publicized transition (news-paper article) was one of the first in the nation of a transgender person working with children in secondary education. She literally left school on Friday as David and returned on the following Monday as the woman, Debra Davis. This photo was taken that Monday morning as she was getting ready to come out to her High School staff (talk she gave to her staff that day) of over 150 people.

       Ms. Davis has been an out, proud and visible transgender person working for human rights in our communities for over two decades.

       Pictured with Debra is Carol Johnson, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools when Debra transitioned, and Al Ortwig, St Paul Public Schools - School Board Member. They are at the 2001 Minnesota Human Rights Dinner and award ceremony.

       Debra is the winner of the 2001 Brian Coyle Leadership Award, presented by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Also winning were the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public School Systems. The following is part of Debra's introduction as she was about to receive the award.

       "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."

       Over 1200 people attended the October 21, 2001 dinner and reception. Debra is believed to be one of the few transgender people in the country to receive the Human Rights Campaign Leadership Award. She is the first transgender Minnesotan to be so honored.

       Debra was honored to be chosen the 2000 Twincities Pride "GRAND MARSHAL." This 35 year old celebration in the center of Minneapolis, host's the largest parade in the upper midwest. The celebration now draws over 400,000 people in its two day run in Loring Park. Debra also has had a booth there for the last 19 years. You can find her on the west side of the park, next to the path that leads to the Minneapolis sculpture gardens, under the big oak tree. Be sure to stop buy and say Hi. Pictured with Debra is her grand daughter Victoria, as they lead the 3 hour parade down Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis in late June of 2000.

      When Debra came out at Southwest she was supported by family, friends, co-workers and allies. The Minneapolis school district and her school itself were unwavering in their support for her. Here she is pictured in the library with Jan, the library clerk, Clarence, the other Media Specialist at Southwest, and her mother and father who came to visit one day.

       Debra attributes the success of her transition to the many others who supported her. In fact, there was so much support that the extreme right wing was upset because no one else seemed to be upset.

       When Debra was in the process of coming out at her school in 1998, Connie Hope was one of the special people that kept her going. She helped Debra through the entire transition. Connie is a practicing attorney. They are known for their work supporting and defending human rights for all people. They are both still active in the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) communities.

       In 1999 Debra was named    "Person of the Year" by  Lavender Magazine. Their article includes the following introduction . . . .

       "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 human rights. 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."

       To the right is Debra's 2000-2001 Southwest High School staff ID picture. (don't you just hate ID photos!)

       One day in March of 2000 the students filled the halls of Southwest High School with signs of support for Debra. Here's the story.

       Debra was also honored during the 1998 national coming out week celebration. She was also the featured speaker at the   National Coming Out Day Interfaith Service on Sunday, October 11, at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. She considers this presentation one of the most powerful and meaningful events she has experienced. The church was full of community members, allies and well-wishers. She was deeply moved by the warmth and acceptance she was shown.

      Debra Davis, Gender Education Center Executive Director, with President Bill Clinton, June 2000 at the Fine Line Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota

       Here is a very early picture of debra. (It's sometimes amazing what "glamor shots" can do.)

       Debra wrote about what her life was like when she first started to accept the fact that she was transgender. These were the early days when opportunities to express her feminine self were very few. Sometimes the logistics of just getting out of her house could be very complicated. The   article was published in  FocusPoint Newspaper, during the summer of 1998.

       "Grandchildren are the joy of my life." Here is Connie with Matthew and Victoria. Connie is one of their favorite people. Of course there was an 'open cookie jar' rule at Debra's house. But that's what grandparents are for. Debra's third grandchild, Ricky, arrived on March 28, 2000 at 6:30 in the morning, (7 lbs. 13 oz.)   

       Here is a picture of Debra's grandchildren, Victoria - 5 1/2, Matthew - 2 1/2, and Ricky - just 4 weeks old. He keeps everyone very busy. You can imagine how the dynamics of this family have changed. Victoria is very much the big sister, and Matthew is learning that he is no longer the center of attention, like he was!

       "We will be adding more personal pictures of grandchildren and family on another page in the future."

       "Here is Connie and me with my grandchildren, Matthew - 4, Victoria - 7, and Ricky - 2. Matthew and Ricky are not quite awake yet. We were all at the Minnesota Rainbow Families Conference in February of 2002. The conference brought together over 800 participants including GLBT parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren, allies, supporters, and friends of our communities. This annual, all-day conference brought us all together to celebrate our families. It is still taking place every spring, usually in Minneapolis."


       "Here is a holiday picture (12/25/02) of me with my grandchildren, Ricky - almost 3, Victoria - 8, and Matthew - 5. Victoria is holding their newest family member, Teddy. It was the first holiday celebrated in their new home. It's my daughter and her husband's first house so it was a very special time with the family. A good time was had by all!"

       "Here is Debra Davis with her grandson Dylan, born in early June, 2004. He was her 4th grandchild. She now has 5 wonderful grandchildren (Ryan born in April, 2009) that take up a lot of her time when she is not traveling and giving presentations through out the country. More personal information on Debra can be found on her family and friends pages."

       Here is Debra with her grandchildren Ricky 5, Victoria 11, and Matthew 7, at Debra's home during their Christmas celebration in late December, 2005. Debra spends a lot of time with her family when she is not traveling for the Gender Education Center, speaking and presenting workshops through out the country. Her home is a favorite gathering place for the family.

More recent photos of Debra Davis and her family and friends can be found on the "Debra Davis family and friends pages:"

Fall '06 through Summer '07 family and friends page

Spring & Summer '06 family and friends page

Winter '06 family and friends page

2005 family and friends page

Summer '04 family and friends page

Fall '04 family and friends page


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