Israeli transgender activist, Michael Alroy to Speak at URI

Topic is ‘Life Begins Where Fear Ends’

KINGSTON, R.I. — Feb. 17, 2020 — Hillel, the University of Rhode Island’s Jewish Student Center, and the URI Gender and Sexuality Center will present Israeli transgender activist, Michael Alroy, as the keynote speaker for the 26th Annual URI LGBTQ Symposium.

Alroy’s talk, “Life Begins Where Fear Ends,” will take place Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. in the URI Gender and Sexuality Center, 19 Upper College Road, Kingston Campus. The lecture will be preceded by dinner at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Michael Alroy was born Michelle Haziza in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1990. At age 7, he emigrated to Israel with his divorced mother and two siblings. From the age of 9, Alroy was sent to an all-girls religious school for middle and high school education. He struggled to adapt to the strictly religious environment of his school as he began to experience a conflict with his gender identity.

After finishing school and joining the Israeli Defense Forces, more difficulties arose until he made a decision at age 20 that changed his life forever. In this talk, Alroy will talk about his personal story, relating his life’s journey from childhood to the present—his difficulties, challenges, loves, and how he copes as transgender within himself and the society in which he lives. Alroy’s 2015 appearance on the Israeli version of the “Big Brother” reality show led to a marked increase in discussion and visibility of the trans community in Israel.

“Hillel and the Gender and Sexuality Center are devoted partners in bringing thought-provoking programs to URI that examine the intersection of Jewish and LGBTQ identities. Alroy’s compelling story of squaring his religious upbringing with his genuine self is an empowering message for our community,” said Amy Olson, executive director of Hillel.

Now in its 26th year, the URI LGBTQ Symposium is a springtime series of gender and sexuality themed and events that raise awareness regarding issues within the LGBTQ community and celebrate what the LGBTQ community has done for society. Hillel and the Gender and Sexuality Center collaborate frequently to present programs that highlight LGBTQ/Jewish themes.

Alroy’s appearance is made possible in part by Hillel International’s Israel Action Program.