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Former Richmond researcher and LGBTQ activist Dr. Judy Bradford has passed away

GayRVA Staff | February 15, 2017

We got an email from some members of Richmond Lesbian Feminists about the passing of Judy Bradford. Bradford lived in Richmond for many years where she was active in the LGBTQ community, with RLF, as well as being an outstanding researcher.

The folks at Fenway Health, an LGBTQ-specific health group where Bradford was Co-Chair, published a nice memorial about her and they gave us permission to rerun the piece. Check it out below via Fenway Health:

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dr. Judy Bradford passed away this weekend after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  As Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute from its inception in 2001, Judy played a key role in building a framework for LGBT-focused research and teaching. She was the first research scientist to head a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded population studies center focused on sexual and gender minority health, and the first to receive NIH funding to support a summer institute to train the next generation of LGBT health researchers, held right here at Fenway. Judy was a key influencer of NIH policy as a member of the Council of the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

She had the distinction of serving on the first Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel focused on lesbian health almost 20 years ago, and then was key in the IOM’s recent landmark report on sexual and gender minority health disparities. She was a passionate believer in improving the health of our community by performing sound research and by teaching others how to do this research.

Judy was an activist, mother, scientist, wife, adventurer, kayaker, investigator, mentor, and charming and engaging presence whose loss will be felt by many throughout our immediate, national and global communities. She will be sorely missed, but her legacy will live on through her lifetime of accomplishments.

Other local folks also reached out about their support for Bradford. Local activist and fellow VDH employee Ted Heck pointed to her work with the Virginia Department of Health and the HIV Community Planning Group when she was at VCU.

“She was an amazing woman, and I too was very privileged have known her as a member of the Richmond Friends Meeting when I was a teenager in the ‘80s, and to work with her and other members of the Transgender Task Force on the Transgender Health study,” Heck said in an email.

An email from one of Bradford’s collegues, Michael L. Hendricks, Ph.D., ABPP at the Washington Psychological Center, P.C., similarly painted a picture of a women who put her work with the community front and center:

I had the absolute privilege of working in collaboration with Judy for 11 years, from 1994 through 2004. During those years, I chaired the Research Committee of the Virginia HIV Community Planning Committee, housed within the Virginia Department of Health, and Judy headed the Community Health Research Initiative (CHRI) at Virginia Commonwealth University. The VHCPC, in its inaugural meeting, dedicated itself )and funding) to a long-term commitment to research to better understand the various communities affected by HIV and which prevention and treatment strategies worked best in each of these communities. CHRI was our partner in this endeavor, and Judy and I developed an amazingly effective working relationship that produced multiple studies on increasing complexity and sophistication.

The model developed by Virginia was later studied by the CDC and subsequently mandated for other Community Planning Groups across the country. Our last study together was the Virginia Transgender Health Initiative, which produced the first truly state-wide database of a wide range of factors that impact the health disparities of transgender individuals, and which we accomplished in partnership with our good friend and gender warrior, Jessica Xavier. Among other things, the results of this study provided the foundation for what became the Minority Stress Model for Transgender individuals.

Soon after the completion of the Virginia study, Judy retired from VCU and moved onto Fenway, where her brilliance was able to shine without the fetters of a state political structure that was not always supportive of her work with LGBT and HIV issues.