At 35 he became a teacher in Antelope, outside Sacramento, California, and won awards for providing inspiration to at-risk teens in what became the award-winning Media Communications Academy. He was awarded an $80,000 grant for his program, won the school's award for the teacher who most inspires students and received a standing ovation from the district's staff at its annual meeting in 1998.
Warfield started transition to Dana Rivers early in 1999 with the intention of returning to school in September as Dana. This was supported by the school, and other teachers read a letter from Dana to their classes, and Dana was interviewed by the school newspaper. However all of four (out of 1500) parents complained that their religious and moral standards had been violated when Dana explained herself to students. They were supported by the Pacific Justice Institute (a right-wing activist legal organization that would be designated a hate group in 2014 by the Southern Poverty Law Center). The PJI threatened the board with lawsuits if they did not try to fire Dana. At a school board meeting a parent said that her 16-year-old daughter was traumatized from hearing about transexualism. However the daughter stood up and told the board that her mother was wrong.
Dana was fired by the school board. Her students protested her suspension with frequent phone calls to the local radio station and marched to the state capitol. Three school-board trustees were threatened with election-recall petitions in protest. Dana was honored with a $10,000 grant from the Colin Higgins Foundation for courage in the face of discrimination. She sued the school board and settled for $150,000 – they also agreed to drop all charges and expunge Dana’s record of all reference to the dismissal. They agreed to use only her new name in all record keeping, and to support her future employment as a teacher by giving to prospective employers an accurate history of her teaching career. Thus she had permission to return to teaching at a different California school.
Dana completed surgery in June 2000 with Dr Eugene Schrang. For three years she was a trans activist appearing on various media including Oprah. People magazine named her one of the 25 most intriguing people of 1999, and Jane magazine named her one of the Gutsiest Women of the Year. She met with Congressman Barney Frank who later dropped trans persons from the campaign for employment non-discrimination right (ENDA) for supposed tactical reasons. There was talk of a book and a film, but they never happened.
Dana then moved to San Francisco and found employment teaching social studies and history at a county jail Charter School.
In November 2016, an Oakland female couple, 56 and 57, and their 19-year-old son, died after being stabbed and shot. Their garage was set on fire. Rivers was arrested outside, covered in blood. She was charged with murder, arson and possession of metal knuckles.
- Evelyn Nieves. "After Sex Change, Teacher Is Barred From School". New York Times, Sept 27, 1999. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E4DC1E3FF934A1575AC0A96F958260&pagewanted=all.
- Margot Hornblower. "He? She? Whatever!" Time, Oct 3, 1999. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,31822,00.html.
- Clare Howell interviews Dana Rivers. Queer Resources Directory, 7 Dec 1999. http://www.qrd.org/qrd/trans/1999/interview.with.dana.rivers-12.07.99.
- "Bigotry Becomes Teacher's Pet Peeve". Colin Higgins Foundation. 2000. www.colinhiggins.org/courageawards/profile4.cfm.
- Carol Keys. Hostile Climate 2000: Report on Anti-Gay Activity. People for the American Way, 2000: 45, 91-2.
- Sheila L. Cavanagh. "Teacher Transsexuality: The Illusion of Sexual Difference and the Idea of Adolescent Trauma in the Dana Rivers Case". Sexualities, August 2003, 6,3-4: 361-383.
- Indrani Sen. Human Rights of Minority And Women's: Transgender Human Rights. Isha Books, 2005 :91.
- Heather Cassell. "Trans teacher changing lives in SF jail". Bay Area Reporter, 01/03/2008. www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2582.
- Vanessa Sheridan. The Complete Guide to Transgender in the Workplace. Praeger, 2009: 30, 144.
- Heesoon Jun. Social Justice, Multicultural Counseling, and Practice: Beyond a Conventional Approach. Sage Publications, 2009: 153.
- Stuart Biegel. The Right to Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America’s Public Schools. University of Minnesota Press, 2010: 53-5.
- “Former Sacramento teacher, once disciplined over gender change, arrested in triple homicide”. The Scaramento Bee, November 16, 2016. www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article115107563.html.
- Veronica Rocha. “Former teacher who sued over sex-change firing faces charges in Oakland triple homicide”. Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2016. www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-dana-rivers-oakland-triple-homicide-20161116-story.html.
Matt & Andrej Koymasky.