July 14, 2003:
Senior Academics send Alert to the Officers and Board Members of the
Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA)
[ See further below the very prompt, concerned responses to this Alert that we received from HBIGDA leaders ]
[ See also early reports of events The 18th Biennial HBIGDA Symposium in Ghent, Belgium, Sept. 10-13, 2003 ]


To: "Eli Coleman, Ph.D., Pres." <colem001@tc.umn.edu>, "Walter Meyer, M.D., Pres.Elect" <wmeyer@utmb.edu>, "Sheila Kirk, M.D., Secy-Treas." <SheilaKirk@aol.com>, "Walter Bockting, Ph.D." <bockt001@tc.umn.edu>, "George Brown, M.D." <George.Brown@med.va.gov>, "Randi Ettner, Ph.D." <rettner@aol.com>, "Louis Gooren, M.D." <l.gooren@inter.nl.net>, "Stan Monstrey, M.D., Ph.D." <stan.mostrey@rug.ac.be>, "Christine Wheeler, Ph.D." <christinewheeler@msn.com>, "Bean Robinson, Ph.D,. Exec. Dir." <hbigda@famprac.umn.edu>
From: Lynn Conway <lynn@ieee.org>
Subject: HBIGDA ALERT re THE BAILEY CONTROVERSY: Formal complaints of research misconduct are being filed with the VP for Research at Northwestern University against Psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey
Cc: "Bruce Alberts, Pres. NAS" <BAlberts@nas.edu>, "Bill Wulf, Pres. NAE" <wwulf@nae.edu>, "Harvey Fineberg, Pres. IOM" <fineberg@nas.edu>, " Henry S. Bienen, President" <nu-president@northwestern.edu>, " Thomas G. Cline, V.P. and General Counsel" <t-cline@northwestern.edu>, "Lawrence B. Dumas, Provost" <nu-provost@northwestern.edu>, "C. Bradley Moore, V.P. for Research" <moorecb@northwestern.edu>, "Alan K. Cubbage, V.P. for University Relations" <a-cubbage@northwestern.edu>
To the Officers and Board Members of the Harry Benjamin
International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA)
An Alert - Issued July 14, 2003

We the undersigned wish to alert you to major unfolding events in the transsexual community, events that are without precedent in their seriousness for trans people worldwide:

The Bailey book controversy:

As you may know, a popular uprising has developed among trans people all around the world as they've heard about and responded to the publication by the National Academy Press (JHP) of J. Michael Bailey's shockingly defamatory book The Man Who Would be Queen.

The book, with its officious presentation as "scientific" fact that trans women are either effeminate gay men or bizarrely autosexual paraphilic men, could not be more defamatory of trans women. Look at its cover art and read the title.

Bailey claims that his book is "based on his original research, and is grounded firmly in science." Two of us (Conway and McCloskey) have made direct contact with several of Bailey's original research subjects and have learned that his "firm ground" was a handful of women, all Hispanic and living in Chicago, most in the sex trade. He knew most of them only slightly, around the signing of their SRS letters. During his "research" he did not document the detailed case histories; he informally "observed them" and wrote down anecdotes about their experiences. He operated without approved research protocols for human subjects and without asking his subjects' permission. He selected pieces of their stories to "prove" his two-cell classification scheme, presenting prejudged "results" as though they were scientific fact.

We have discovered that Prof. Bailey has little knowledge of the larger transgendered community and has made no effort to amend his ignorance. He has no understanding of the variety, diversity, and varied trajectories of the thousands of gender transitions that occur in the U.S. each year. He has deliberately avoided contact with the many hundreds of successful, assimilated, postoperative trans women and trans men, easily reachable through web sites such as:


Bailey's book is politically-inspired junk science. Unhappily, Bailey managed to get his "cutting-edge science book" published by the National Academy Press (JHP). We believe this was a mistake, though not an accident. By positioning it as "a popularization of recent important scientific research," he and the National Academy Press set off the current furor.


The investigations now underway:

The rapidly accumulating results of inquiries into Professor Bailey and his allies can be followed at the following two websites, which are coordinating the trans community's web response:

Andrea James Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence information clearinghouse:

Lynn Conway's Bailey Investigation site:


Those pages document the accumulating evidence concerning many aspects of Prof. Bailey's research conduct. Prof. Joan Roughgarden of Stanford was among the first, writing to the Presidents of the National Academies that "something is terribly wrong." The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) has issued a press release condemning the book as "science by blatant assertion":


We recommend that you read Prof. Roughgarden's letter and the NTAC Press Release (we've attached copies of those documents for your convenience).


The danger:

Many in the trans community see Prof. Bailey's work as the most potentially damaging, most outlandish caricature of trans women since Janice Raymond's Transsexual Empire. Indeed it could be worse. Bailey's book is not merely a quietly published academic monograph, as Raymond's was. On the contrary, it is pitched as a trade book, and Bailey writes well (if usually fictionally). Under the mysterious-acquired imprimatur of the National Academy Press, with testimonials by such people as the linguist Stephen Pinker (who believes that biology is all), it can be plausibly viewed by the innocent as the "latest science." It is positioned to poison public opinion of trans women in the U.S. for decades to come.

This danger is heightened by the present political climate. The book has been seized on as an "icon of science" by extreme right wing homo- and trans-phobes such as the columnist John Derbyshire---who is not incidentally connected with Prof. Bailey in other ways--- See Derbyshire's June 30, 2003 review of Bailey's book for the National Review:

See also:


The filing of formal complaints about J. Michael Bailey's research conduct:

Our investigations, including much fieldwork in the Chicago area, have uncovered much that is alarming. As a result a formal complaint has been filed against Professor J. Michael Bailey with Northwestern University regarding Prof. Bailey's mistreatment of transsexual women as research subjects during the period 1994-1998. The complaint was filed on July 3, 2003 by C. Anjelica Kieltyka with the Vice President for Research at Northwestern. We have attached a copy; it is also on the web at:


Ms. Kieltyka was mentoring young Latina trans women. She brought a half dozen or so of them to Prof. Bailey, since he promised to sign their SRS letters. Without Ms. Kieltyka or the others realizing it, Prof. Bailey was in fact using them for his "research." He did not tell them they were research subjects or that distorted selections from their stories would be reported in his later publications.

When Ms. Kieltyka finally saw Prof. Bailey's writings, discussing her intimate life (we repeat: inaccurately), she complained, but he changed nothing. Bailey has used fragments of their stories, mixed with fabrications, to their sisters everywhere. Ms. Kieltyka reports for instance that Prof. Bailey recently admitted to fabricating the final, clinching "Danny" story in this "scientific" book.


We anticipate further filings in the near future of additional complaints against Prof. Bailey at Northwestern by other women. We hope the complaints are thoroughly investigated, and that proper sanctions are imposed for all confirmed violations.


Whither HBIGDA?

As a result of the widening investigations and the growing controversy, many people will turn to HBIGDA's leaders and ask your opinions about Bailey's book. We urge you to begin your own investigation into Prof. Bailey's motives, methods, and activities---including his "research" methods, his treatment of human subjects, his veracity, and his methods of reporting and publicizing his "results."

A helpful site will be:



We urge any of you who can to talk with the "research" subjects involved (we can arrange for some of you to meet them). You can come to your own conclusions. We also urge HBIGDA to take an interest in Northwestern University's investigation of Prof. Bailey's past research conduct, both to ensure that a full investigation is undertaken and to be prepared to take actions on any findings.

The trans community is watching the events unfold on the web. We believe that it is important to the success of HBIGDA that it be actively involved.


The community declares its independence:

This Bailey affair has electrified the mainstream of trans women amd men around the world, in ways that no other event has done. We are weary of being classified, caricatured, and mocked in "research" papers, and objectified and dehumanized by a small clique of arrogant, incurious, and scientifically incompetent "sex researchers" such as Bailey. We will no longer submit to their illiberal programs. We intend to fight back with the tools of open science and clear thinking.

We hope that as HBIGDA moves towards a more compassionate, informed-consent, non-judgmental, and care-giving model of the treatment of gender crossing, it will reject "researchers" who defame, caricature, ridicule and exploit trans people. We hope that you will join us in making sure that gender science is used for good.




Lynn Conway
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
University of Michigan
Member, National Academy of Engineering

Deirdre McCloskey, Ph.D.
UIC Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, and English
University of Illinois at Chicago
Tinbergen Professor of Philosophy, Economics, and Art and Cultural Studies,
Erasmus University of Rottterdam

Ben Barress, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Biology
Stanford University

Barbara P. Nash, Ph. D.
Professor of Geology and Geophysics
University of Utah

Joan Roughgarden, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Sciences
Stanford University





Our Alert raised immediate concerned responses
from HBIGDA leaders:

We were very gratified to receive the following e-mail responses to our HBIGDA Alert. The first response, from George Brown, M.D. a member of the HBIGDA Board of Directors, came in only an hour or so after the Alert went out. A few hours later, an even more extensive response came in from Eli Coleman, Ph.D. the President of HBIGDA. Dr. Coleman's e-mail indicated that our HBIGDA Alert would be addressed in an upcoming Executive Committee Meeting, and would also be put on the agenda for the Board Meeting at the HBIGDA Conference in Gent, Belium, in mid-September, 2003.


From: George.Brown@med.va.gov
To: lynn@ieee.org, colem001@tc.umn.edu, wmeyer@utmb.edu, SheilaKirk@aol.com,
bockt001@tc.umn.edu, George.Brown@med.va.gov, rettner@aol.com,
l.gooren@inter.nl.net, stan.mostrey@rug.ac.be, christinewheeler@msn.com,
Cc: BAlberts@nas.edu, wwulf@nae.edu, fineberg@nas.edu,
nu-president@northwestern.edu, t-cline@northwestern.edu,
nu-provost@northwestern.edu, moorecb@northwestern.edu,
Subject: RE: HBIGDA ALERT re THE BAILEY CONTROVERSY: Formal complaints of
research misconduct are being filed with the VP for Research at Northwest
ern University against Psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 12:56:20 -0500

To: Eli Coleman, Ph.D., President, HBIGDA
From: George R. Brown, MD, Member, Board of Directors, HBIGDA
Date: 14 July 03
This is a serious letter with serious concerns and allegations. I have reviewed the work in question and I think that this issue should be an agenda item at our next meeting.


Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 13:42:40 CDT
From: Eli Coleman <colem001@umn.edu>
Subject: Re: HBIGDA ALERT re THE BAILEY CONTROVERSY: Formal complaints of research misconduct are being filed with the VP for Research at Northwest ern University against Psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey
To: George.Brown@med.va.gov, lynn@ieee.org, Eli Coleman <colem001@tc.umn.edu>,
wmeyer@utmb.edu, SheilaKirk@aol.com,
Walter O Bockting <bockt001@gold.tc.umn.edu>, George.Brown@med.va.gov,
rettner@aol.com, l.gooren@inter.nl.net, stan.mostrey@rug.ac.be,
christinewheeler@msn.com, hbigda@famprac.umn.edu
cc: BAlberts@nas.edu, wwulf@nae.edu, fineberg@nas.edu,
nu-president@northwestern.edu, t-cline@northwestern.edu,
nu-provost@northwestern.edu, moorecb@northwestern.edu,

Dear George,

I am in receipt of this letter as well today. And, we will not only
address this in our upcoming Executive Committee Meeting but also put this
on the agenda for the Board Meeting in Gent.

I agree that while not having reviewed the book myself, I have been very
concerned about seriousness of the allegations. I think it is very
appropriate that those concerned ask for inquiry into the bodies which
govern Dr. Bailey professional behavior and I have encouraged this
activity. To my knowledge, Dr. Bailey has never been a member of HBIGDA.

HBIGDA mission is clear: HBIGDA provides opportunities for scientific
interchange among professionals through its biennial conferences and
publications. It develops and publishes Standards of Care for the treatment
of gender identity disorders. These internationally accepted guidelines are
designed to promote the health and welfare of persons with gender identity

HBIGDA's standards of care and ethical guidelnes advocates for scientific
understanding, ethical research, professionalism, and access to care.
HBIGDA is committed to educating the public about transgender health.
HBIGDA has also been very active in advocating for transgender rights.

We will do all we can to do to respond to this situation.


Eli Coleman


On 14 Jul 2003, George.Brown@med.va.gov wrote:
> To: Eli Coleman, Ph.D., President, HBIGDA
> From: George R. Brown, MD, Member, Board of Directors, HBIGDA
> Date: 14 July 03
> This is a serious letter with serious concerns and allegations. I have
> reviewed the work in question and I think that this issue should be an
> agenda item at our next meeting.




Early reports re events at the HBIGDA Symposium
in Ghent Belgium, Sept. 10-13, 2003
"WE Need to Challenge Bad Science":
Words by Dr.Eli Coleman, the President of HBIGDA,
during in his opening speech at the18th Biennial HBIGDA Symposium
while standing under a large projected image of Bailey's book.
The 18th Biennial HBIGDA Symposium was held in Ghent, Belgium, September 10-13, 2003. We have numerous independent reports from attendees (such as the one below) coming in that during his opening speech at the Symposium the outgoing HBIGDA President, Dr. Eli Coleman of the University of Minnesota, referred to the dangers of "bad science" on transsexualism - and that he did this while standing under a large projected image of the cover of J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism.
We also have reports that most of the HBIGDA attendees were very aware of and were buzzing about the controversy surrounding Bailey's book, and that a wide majority were very concerned about the "bad science" within it. The book and what to do about it were also key topics of discussion at the HBIGDA Board meeting during the Symposium.
See also Andrea James webpage for more information about this very significant incident and its aftermath:
HBIGDA President blasts Bailey book
Addressing an audience of the world’s foremost experts on gender identity, Coleman proposed a 10-point blueprint of current and future goals for the organization.
As he outlined the need to “promote sound and ethical research,” Dr. Coleman made a direct reference to The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University. The book has been widely denounced as scientifically unsound and deeply biased.
Dr. Coleman urged members to work with the transgender community to “end antipathy and distrust of researchers.” To illustrate what Dr. Coleman called “unfortunate setbacks” to ending this problem, he displayed the Bailey book cover. The book’s provocative title and image of masculine legs and feet in feminine shoes are widely considered to be deliberately insulting.
Referring to Bailey’s shoddy scholarship and deeply flawed research methods, Dr. Coleman emphatically declared: “We need to challenge bad science.”

Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
To: Lynn Conway
From: Charlotte Anjelica Kieltyka
Lynn, Yet another report from a very well-placed source: Everything we had heard about Eli Coleman's opening speech was absolutely true.....Bailey's Queen Book being prominently displayed overhead.......Everybody waiting with baited breath for Eli to confirm or deny this symbolism.......The President's brief but potent words of warning about BAD SCIENCE .......This well-placed ( and very well-known ) source told me that "you could hear a pin drop" .....My source further confirmed that Eli Coleman's words echoed their own strong feelings and the feelings of many others in the audience, exactly .....Make no mistake about it....Eli Coleman's words of Bad Science echoed John Bancroft's challenge to Bailey at the IASR meeting and all these words of denouncement (of the "Queen/emperor with no clothes) will continue to echo throughout the scientific and psychological community ......
Charlotte Anjelica Kieltyka
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. USA
[ See top of this page for the original Alert sent to HBIGDA's leaders on 7-14-03 regarding Bailey's book ]

This page is part of Lynn Conway's
"Investigative report into the publication of
J. Michael Bailey's book on transsexualism
by the National Academies"