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People with dwarfism are often stereotyped in popular media and culture. Yet our own voices are rarely heard; the full breadth of our contributions is rarely acknowledged. That’s why we embarked upon the RGA Dwarfism Role Models project – to amplify the voices of figureheads in our communities. In this installment, we had a chance to speak with the psychiatrist Dr Judith Badner, MD.

Please introduce yourself: who are you and where are you from?

I am Judith Badner, MD. I grew up near Washington, DC., but I’ve lived in Chicago for many years. I’ve also lived in Boston and Pittsburgh.

And what do you do?

I’m a psychiatrist at Rush University. I work in a clinic, seeing a wide range of psychiatric conditions with a sub-specialty in adult autism. I’ve worked as a researcher in psychiatric genetics for many years, but grant funding has become very difficult to obtain so I’m a pure clinician now.

Do you enjoy it?


How did you end up doing it?

I went to medical school, with the idea of specializing in clinical genetics and treating people with dwarfism. However, psychiatry really fascinated me, and there was starting to be a lot of work in psychiatric genetics. So, I decided to train in psychiatry with a fellowship in psychiatric genetics.

If you were 21 again, would you do something different?

No, I’ve been very happy with my choices.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Making a difference in people’s lives.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

Making 20 dresses for a play in one week!

What are the best and worst aspects about being small?

Best – learning to deal with adversity at a young age; being unique. 

Worst – the ridicule, inaccessible environments, the surgeries.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to your teenage self what would that be?

It gets better.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Can’t think of a person I admire above all others.

How do you like to pass the time, outside of work?

Reading, computer games, bicycling.

What’s your favourite book?

Lord of the Rings.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Making a positive difference in so many people’s lives.

When your time comes, how would you like to be remembered?

She tried to help people, and she had a wicked sense of humour.

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