Prominent Gender Researcher Richard Green, M.D., J.D.*
cautions J. M. Bailey on his use of language:
" - - - At our site visit, we were scolded by a psychiatrist who said that calling a girl a "tomboy" was like calling a black person a "nigger". So, there was no systematic follow-up. - - - "
- Richard Green, M.D., J.D.
In February 2003, an exceptional Letter to the Editor by Richard Green, M.D., J.D. was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The letter is exceptional because it was the first time 30 years that Dr. Green had written one. It is also exceptional in its timing and its possible encoded message.
Here Dr. Green cautions J. M. Bailey on his use of language, using the example of how the label "tomboy" for certain girls once cost him grant money. He suggests that poor use of emotionally-laden terminology might lead to funding losses from "politically correct" funding agencies.
If funding agencies were to ask trans women how we felt about Bailey's terminology, and about his sweeping caricatures of us, they might understand one reason why we are so outraged by Bailey. If only the funding agencies thought of transwomen as human beings, Dr. Green could then directly warn Bailey that his blanket and sweeping use of terms that are highly offensive to trans women might also cost him something.
Is this Letter nothing more than a hint about funding politics, and the use of the word "tomboy"? Is that motive enough to write the first such Letter in 30 years? Or is it a marker placed into the archives, just as Bailey's book was about to be published, saying: "I see it coming. I see how T's will react to Bailey's use of language about them"?
We can only speculate about its meaning here. We hope that it is more than a mere coaching regarding insuring funding by being politially correct, without any regard to the issue of emotional sensitivities of research subjects (much less those of the transgender community at large). Is Green here a keen observer and astute predictor of human social behavior, or is he a merely passing a few hackademic tips along to Bailey? You will have to ask Dr. Green about that.
Do think, however, about Bailey's labels for trans women: He labels even assimilated postop trans women as either "homosexual men" or"autogynephiles". He does this even to those who as women are in loving relationships with partners who know what fully female gendered, sexually responsive women many of us are. He does this even to those trans women who are legally married to men. And in the process he denies us our gender, and thus our very identity as human beings.
He does this by marking all trans women with one or the other of the scarlet letters "H" or "A", often following it with the deep scarlet letter "M" . Talk about using the "N" word! Well folks you've just learned about the "H", "A" and "M" words. Do not use these "HAM" words for trans women, or they ARE going to get on your case!
Give us a break folks:
Just call us "women", or, when relevant in context, "trans women".
And to all trans women everywhere:
If anyone calls you an "M" or an "H" or an "A", take names!
* Richard Green, M.D., J.D. is research director and consultant psychiatrist
at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic in London. During the 1960s he
worked in the USA with Professor John Money and Harry Benjamin and has been
involved in the treatment of transsexuals and research into transsexualism
for over 35 years. He is past president of Harry Benjamin International
Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), and researches medical, social and
legal issues surrounding gender dysphoria.