Jes Simmons, PhD

Photo by Alex Grabiec

Member of the Board


Dr. Jes Simmons is the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs at Longwood University. She is the first transsexual professor and, since 2017, the first openly transsexual administrator on campus (though she readily acknowledges that gender-dysphoric students and faculty have been on campus since its inception as Farmville Female Seminary Association in 1839; they were either deeply closeted or lacked the vocabulary to voice their identities).

Dr. Jes (as Longwood students call her) underwent gender-confirmation surgery in 1997. With some hyperbole, transphobia turned her life into a game of Chutes-and-Ladders—going from grading essays and getting chalk-dust on a tweed jacket as a tenured male associate professor in a college classroom in Ohio to taking movie tickets and getting butter on her blouse as a woman working at a single-screen movie theater, followed by many years of low-wage, no-insurance jobs until she was hired at Longwood.

There, a sea-change occurred when she was asked to come out as a transsexual professor and be an ally and unofficial mentor to LGBTQ+ students (who call her “Pride Mom”). Student acceptance has been wonderful. Her awards from Longwood students include Outstanding First-Year Advocate, a Student Advocate of the Year plaque (2016-17), the Roy Nunnally Award trophy for being a student-athlete advocate of the year, a Cahoots award and “Cornerstone Brick” (2018); a Princeps award sash and recognition (2015), and a CHI Commendation and “Burning” (2016).

Dr. Jes often gives presentations about her life in two genders, on surviving and prevailing over career-destroying transphobia, and the importance of living authentically as your true self. Jes was born in England, but has lived most of her life in the U.S. She writes and publishes poetry and has played jazz/swing drums since she was 10 years old.