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‘Fighting for Their Lives’ finds an audience at The J

This past Sunday The J hosted “Fighting for Their Lives: Understanding Trans and Gender-Diverse Identities.” The program featured Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, interviewed on stage by Richard Friedman, associate editor of Southern Jewish Life magazine.

Nearly 100 people attended Sunday’s event, which featured journalist Richard Friedman interviewing Dr. Morissa Ladinsky.

At UAB, Ladinsky is co-leader of a team that provides gender-affirming care to transgender youth and teens and support to their families. Friedman’s story in SJL about Ladinsky, her work, and her faith, “Fighting for their Lives: Jewish Pediatrician in the Middle of Alabama‘s Transgender Battles,” was honored recently by the American Jewish Press Association.

Nearly 100 people attended the event, which was co-hosted by The J and Southern Jewish Life.

“In hosting this event, The J again opened doors and gained visibility for some of our most marginalized Alabamians,” Ladinsky says. “When voices come together, we can uplift those in need and enhance equity for all. This is who we are as Jews.”

“It was gratifying to see the turnout and level of interest in this program,” adds Friedman. “People from the broader community who attended thanked us for helping them learn more about Judaism and the commitment of Jewish people to helping all people.” 

A few of the many items that the duo’s conversation touched on included how discussions about trans and gender-diverse identities should be considered a topic (not an “issue”), and how gender identity and sexual orientation have no bearing on each other and are traits over which individuals have no control (much like left- and right-handedness).

Ladinsky also provided an update on the pending Alabama law that would criminalize doctors providing gender-affirming care to minors, and the two discussed how Judaism has inspired and informed Ladinsky’s work.

“Morissa was outstanding,” says Friedman. “She is courageous and principled, and was extremely clear in her answers and explanations.” 


“Fighting for Their Lives” and the recent “Together Against Antisemitism” programs both reflect The J’s commitment to exploring contemporary topics within a Jewish context.