Dee Dee Chamblee — known to most as Mrs. Dee Dee — has been a pillar in the Atlanta trans community for decades, working with trans women of color who engage in sex work and who live with HIV/AIDS. Her formidable organizing and storytelling skills have galvanized and inspired young activists for years. Originally from Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Chamblee ran away from home as a teenager in the early 1970s and found affirmation from local drag legends like The Lady Chablis and Tina Devore.
Chamblee’s early experience as a sex worker, as well as her time spent navigating the criminal justice system while being wrongly incarcerated, has informed her work and advocacy. She founded LaGender Inc. in 2001 to provide local transgender people with education and resources on HIV prevention and intervention, homelessness, mental health, and wrongful incarceration. In the nearly 20 years of its existence, LaGender Inc. has served as a safe haven for trans people interested in social justice and learning the skills necessary for survival in a world that tells them they shouldn’t exist.