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J. Michael Bailey
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Controversial Sex Researcher
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Chicago Gay Paper Nixes Ad From Controversial Sex Researcher

By Mark Fitzgerald

Published: August 15, 2006 3:35 PM ET

CHICAGO The Chicago Free Press will no longer publish an ad soliciting gay males for a sex study because of the involvement of a controversial Northwestern University professor, the gay-oriented weekly declared in its current issue.

The action has stirred strong emotions among defenders and opponents of the work of the professor, J. Michael Bailey.

A transsexual activist, Lynn Conway, hailed the Free Press in an e-mail for taking "a courageous action ... (that) is a new and very effective way to defend against rogue scientists such as Bailey."

At the same time, the newspaper has been "inundated" by letters defending Bailey's work -- many of them apparently prompted by an e-mail blast to a listserv from Bailey himself, Free Press Editor Louis Weinberg said Tuesday.

In an editorial in its Aug. 9 edition entitled "Bad Science," the newspaper said would not allow itself to be used "to further the dubious agenda of someone who believes he should not be held accountable to our community."

Bailey is the author of the 2003 book, "The Man Who Would Be Queen," which angered transsexual and transgender persons for some of its assertions, which Bailey said are based on rigorous data. Northwestern investigated allegations that Bailey acted improperly during the research for the book, but never disclosed any specific discipline. Bailey resigned as head of the psychology department, but remains on the faculty.

Bailey has also angered some gay activists with research he says show that bisexuality probably does not exist as a sexual orientation in men; that gay men "on average and in some respects" tend to be more feminine than straight men; and that the traditional explanation that a transsexual woman is a "woman trapped in a man's body" is wrong, and better explained, among "one kind" of transsexual women as "erotic excitement at the idea of becoming a woman."

"The main complaint is that Bailey's been accused of a lot of improprieties over the years, and he's never returned our calls," Editor Weisberg said. "He's using us as science experiments but not being very accountable to us as a community."

In an e-mail to E&P, Bailey said researchers placed the ad looking for two or more gay brothers from the same family for a genetic study of male sexual orientation.

"We have advertised around the country for this study, and we have never had a problem," he said.

Bailey, in his e-mail to colleagues, said the editorial was "very hostile and very inaccurate." And in a letter to the Free Press he also sent to E&P, Bailey said he had responded to “the of the various accusations against me concerning my book” on this Web page:

“What should be obvious to anyone who takes the time to visit the vast websites that a very few angry transsexual women have erected in my honor is that they hate the ideas I wrote about,” Bailey wrote. “I have been willing to say -- in my book, in my research on male bisexuality, in my research on femininity in gay men, and in my work generally -- things that are true but that make some people irate.”

He said his conclusions simply follow research data, and that “if I believed that my work was truly harming gay people, I would stop doing it.”

In its editorial, the Free Press said “we cannot in good conscience steer our readers to a study that Bailey is part of,” and that before accepting future ads for sexuality research, the ad staff will ask who is involved in the study.

“If Bailey is,” the newspaper said, “we won't accept the ads.”

Mark Fitzgerald ( is E&P's editor-at-large


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