Literature Professor Joy Ladin, formerly known as Jay Ladin, 47, showed up for her first day of school sporting pink lipstick, a purple shirt and a black skirt. She cheerfully strutted through the doors of the Midtown campus’ main building, where she oversees the writing center.
Many at the Jewish university are horrified by the presence of the transgender professor. Some fear the news could cut alumni donations.
Ladin and the school won’t comment on the situation, but some rabbis are shocked that she’s still a member of the faculty.
“He’s not a woman. “He’s not a woman. He’s a male with enlarged …….,” said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior dean at Yeshiva’s rabbinical school and a professor of biology and medical ethics. “He’s a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual.
“There is no niche where he can hide out as a female without being in massive violation of Torah law, Torah ethics and Torah morality.”
Even if not in spirit, Ladin remains part male.
Ladin wouldn’t respond to Tendler’s statement, and her only comment on the controversy was: “I’m not at liberty to discuss the matter.”
The conflict with the university started at the end of 2006, three years after Ladin joined the faculty. Less than two weeks after the university gave the celebrated poetry and literature professor tenure, she told them that she was transgender and in the process of becoming a woman.
The university placed Ladin on indefinite leave, according to faculty members, who requested anonymity. After months of heated debate among rabbis, administrators, Ladin and her lawyers, the university agreed to let her return, according to sources close to the negotiations.
No one from the school would comment officially, but many faculty members, who spoke anonymously, said the decision was legally motivated.
“They didn’t have a choice unless they wanted to be embroiled in a legal battle,” said one faculty member. Ladin had to face a far messier legal battle on the home front.
Ladin’s wife filed for divorce and custody of their three kids and moved out of their Amherst, Mass., house, according to friends.
Although some rabbis are outraged by Ladin’s return, many students are celebrating.
Sarah Rindner, 25, of the Upper West Side, took Ladin’s classes twice in 2006 before the professor went on leave.
“This is great news, and I’m sure the university won’t regret it,” said the former student, who now works as a high-school English teacher.
Shayndi Raice Sigall, 26, of the Upper East Side, took Ladin’s class in 2004 and said her return would offer students a unique learning experience.
“There are transgender people all over the world, and this is a wonderful opportunity for the school to show students firsthand how you can respect and learn from someone who might be different from you,” Sigall said.
The transgender community is also thrilled with the surprising decision.
“I think it’s fabulous and wonderful. I don’t know of any other religiously conservative university that employs someone trans,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
University President Richard Joel declined comment, except to say, “I’m proud of my university and all my faculty.