In the Chicago Free Press
The Midwest's #1 Gay Newspaper
April 16, 2004
TRANS ACTIVISTS FILE CHARGES
AGAINST NU PROFESSOR
By Gary Barlow
"Armand Cerbone, a psychologist and incoming president of the Illinois Psychological Association,
said the allegations raise serious questions..."The charges are substantial," said Cerbone...
"It would appear that even if there was consent, there was not informed consent,"
said Cerbone, inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame last June.
If he provided a clinical service and he doesn't have a license, that's a very serious offense...""
TRANS ACTIVISTS FILE CHARGES AGAINST NU PROFESSOR
By Gary Barlow
Northwestern University psychology department chair J. Michael Bailey faced new charges last week that he practiced clinical psychology without a license, counseling transgender women and writing letters to surgeons on their behalf.
The allegations, turned over to the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and a NU committee investigating Bailey on other charges, stem from research techniques Bailey employed in the writing of his book, "The Man Who Would Be Queen."
"Between 1996 and 2002 Mr. Bailey interviewed and counseled young transsexual women who believed him to be a licensed clinical psychologist," stated the complaint filed by two transgender professors and a California-based transgender advocate.
"He wrote their letters of recommendation for gender reassignment surgery on Northwestern University letterhead," the complaint stated. "A license is of course required to practice as a clinical psychologist in Illinois. The Springfield office of the Department of Professional Regulation has confirmed that Mr. Bailey was not licensed in Illinois at the time."
A second complaint to the IDPR asked state investigators to also look into charges filed last year with NU that Bailey "published confidential case-history information about transsexual women he had interviewed as a clinician, and that he published this information without the women's knowledge or permission."
The complaints were filed by University of Michigan professor Lynn Conway, University of Illinois-Chicago professor Deirdre McCloskey and Andrea James, owner of California-based tsroadmap.com.
Bailey's book, published without footnotes, references and bibliography, alleged that prostitution is "the single most common occupation" among transgenders. It was panned by transgender advocates and women described in the book, who said Bailey met them in Chicago bars frequented by transgenders, befriended them and wrote the letters of recommendation surgeons require before accepting clients for gender reassignment surgery.
Those women, in complaints filed last year with NU, said they had no idea they were part of Bailey's research. One also alleged that Bailey had sexual contact with her.
The IDPR complaints were filed after James decided to check Bailey's professional credentials.
"Over the years I've kind of learned to check up on them," James said. "Some of these guys just play fast and loose with the rules and don't think the rules apply to them. I have no doubt he's violated the spirit of the law. It's up to the state to decide if he's violated the letter."
Bailey failed to return CFP phone calls seeking comment on the allegations but told the NU newspaper, The Daily, "I've done nothing wrong."
Conway said that denial didn't surprise her.
"To evade the (initial) charges at Northwestern he took the turn that it wasn't really research, that he was being more of a journalist," she said.
Conway said the young women Bailey counseled, as well as the surgeons he wrote letters to, assumed he was properly licensed.
"These letters have to come from a licensed clinical psychologist," Conway said. "By posing as a clinical psychologist, they all told him their stories. They thought it was confidential. They were never told it was research."
Conway said she and others worry that Bailey's actions, if unpunished, could make transgenders wary of psychologists.
"It threatens to completely break the trust that transgender and transsexual people have with clinicians," she said. "If nothing is done, how can we ever trust clinicians again?"
Armand Cerbone, a psychologist and incoming president of the Illinois Psychological Association, said the allegations raise serious questions.
"The charges are substantial," said Cerbone, who stressed he was speaking for himself, not the IPA, which has taken no official position on Bailey since he's not an IPA member.
"It would appear that even if there was consent, there was not informed consent," said Cerbone, inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame last June. "If he provided a clinical service and he doesn't have a license, that's a very serious offense. ...If he provided assessments and rendered a diagnosis which in turn got them insurance and treatment, then he had a clinical relationship with them."
Cerbone also said Bailey's book raised questions about his credibility as a researcher.
"There are statements in there that you would not expect to come from a scientific researcher," Cerbone said. "They border on moral judgements."
NU spokesman Charles Loebbaka would not comment on the charges against Bailey or the course of NU's investigation, which appears to be moving slowly. Conway said neither she nor, to her knowledge, anyone else making allegations against Bailey has been contacted by the NU investigating committee, which issued a statement confirming its investigation more than five months ago.
"People can stonewall and hope people get tired and don't pursue this case," Conway said. "It's just given us more time to gather more evidence."
She added that more charges "will probably be brought in the next month or two." And if NU's investigation doesn't move forward with more urgency, Conway said, charges will likely be filed with civil rights and research protection offices in the United States Department of Health and Human Services.