This isn't a job that I wanted to do. However, someone needed to raise the alert about the defamation and dehumanization of transgender and transsexual women conveyed within the covers of J.M Bailey's new book.
A little background about me:
I am a woman who survived transsexualism by undergoing a gender transition some 35 years ago. My transition was a tumultous one, back in the pioneering days of such transitions. I had profound feelings of gender angst from my very earliest childhood memories, and struggled to find ways to become a girl all through my teens. I began injecting surreptitiously obtained female hormones in 1958, having learned about their effects in medical books. I was lucky enough to be atractive when presenting as a girl, and was able to find love with heterosexual boyfriends while living as a transgender girl at age 20-22. However, I was then forced to detransition, under threats by psychiatrists of institutionalization in a state mental hospital. Out of fear and desperation, I tried very hard while in excruciating angst to "be a guy" for six long years. I was near suicide when I finally found help from Harry Benjamin, M.D. in 1967. With his help, I completed my transition and underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1968.
I'm a heterosexual woman in my new life, and am married to a wonderful man. I've been the warmly loving companion of my life-partner for over 15 years now. From 1969 until 1999, I lived in total stealth. My contributions for which I am well-known in my professional fields were all made in my new life, without revealing my past. Gender transition not only saved my life, it liberated me into a freedom to live, to enjoy life and to be me! The joy I felt permeated my entire being, and enabled me to do a lot of cool creative work in my career. Most importantly, it enabled me to give and receive love ever so fully and without any holding back in intimate love-relationships, and to finally find a life-partner who is now my a husband.
Only within the past few years have I come quietly out (mainly via the web) to help provide support and information for others who must travel the same road in life as I. Up to now, those colleagues who came to know about my past have been for the most part pretty cool about it. Most of them accepted me as the woman they've always known, and they came to envision transsexualism and gender transition in the light of having known me.
In the past two years, our society has been on the track of ever-increasing understanding of transsexual and transgender women and men. There has also been a wave of new civil protections of the human rights of transgender people, especially in many of our major cities, as the many legal and social and human rights challenges facing people who undergo gender transition became more widely known about.
In all but a handful of states in the U.S., transsexual women have full legal rights as women, including, for example, the right to legally enter into valid marriages with men.
These past few years have been a hopeful time for trans women. More and more support information has appeared on the web, and more and more of us have begun to network and get to know each other via the web.As a result of all this recent networking, we ourselves, somewhat to our own amazement, now realize that there are thousands of very successful postop women out their in our society living really cool lives - normal lives - of great diversity in all walks of life.
Why I've undertaken this investigation and writing this report:
Right in the midst of all this progress regarding the normalization of transgender lives, and progress in ensuring the human rights of trans people, the most amazing thing happened: Our most prestigious scientific institutions, the National Academies, published a new book by a psychology professor named J. Micael Bailey that the National Academy Press claims in their website to be a "cutting-edge researcher and sex expert" .
You will note that the National Academy Press also claims on their website that "Based on his original research, Baileys book is grounded firmly in science."
However, as we will see, the professor who wrote this book bases it not on his own original science, but on a 15-20 year old classification scheme by a sexologist named Ray Blanchard that had been long abandoned by other researchers. He then wrote a breezy "popularization" of that old scheme by sequencing anecdotal sketches about a small handful of young latina transwomen all introduced to him by an older transwoman who was their mentor - and who had brought these women to him because he was willing to write letters of recommendation for their sex-reassignment (SRS) surgeries.
A divorced, unattached male, and a self-proclaimed hetersosexual and expert on homosexuality, Bailey has for many years lived in a gay neighborhood, frequented gay bars and is often seen socializing with drag queens and she-male prostitutes. Some among the tiny set of seven or eight transsexual women he had met while working on this book had begun their transitions by coming out within the social confines of the Chicago drag bars and sex-worker scene that Bailey frequented in his research on homosexuality. By looking at these women's stories sideways, Bailey "discovered" that Blanchard's classification scheme could be made to appear fully confirmed by exploiting this tiny sample of transsexual women. Later, as he wrote his book and his writings became known about, he refused to interact with large numbers of other transsexual women whose life-trajectories had not passed through the gay drag scene and who wanted to tell him their stories - the avoiding being confronted by any facts that might conflict with his scientific "proof by example" of Blanchard's theory.
And what does Baile say about transsexual women in this book?
Bailey says that there are two and only two types of "transsexuals": (i) "classic transsexuals", whom he redefines as "homosexual transsexuals" who are said to be a type of gay man, and (ii) "non-homosexual transsexuals" who are said to be sexual paraphilics called "autogynephilics". To Bailey, the first type are those those who are attractive and who like men, and the second type is "all the rest".
The book does not say that this classification scheme is merely Blanchard's old-outdated theory from the 1980's, and that transsexualism is much more commonly seen as a form of gender identity dysphoria (GID) these days - nor does it even reference any of that other more recent scientific work. Instead Bailey presents Blanchard's outdated classification scheme as if it were a scientific fact, and then illustrates examples under that scheme by cleverly exploiting selected anecdotes from the stories of his unwitting transsexual research subjects.
In order to get some feeling for how Bailey presents and characterizes classical early-onset transsexualism, consider the following quotes from his book:
Thus, to my amazement, I find that a new so-called "cutting-edge science" book is teaching the public (and my Academy colleagues too) the following things: that women like me are actually a "type of gay man", and that we tend to have a short time horizons with certain pleasure in the present worth great risks for the future, that prostitution is our single most common occupation , that nearly all of us work as escorts after they having our surgeries, and that few if any of us are successful at finding desirable men willing to commit to them.
Can you imagine how this makes many trans women feel, women who've paid such a high price in pain and effort and emotional sacrifices simply to correct their gender? Women who by all accounts live perfectly fine and productive lives and who by all accounts are successes in life? To then be defamed by the ill-conceived transphobic speculations of an obscure academic now being foisted on an unsuspecting public in the guise of institutionalized national-level "science"?
Hmm. Any wonder that many trans women might be a bit ticked off about this book? I mean, what kind of ridiculous nonsense is this? Stigmatizing and defamatory statements such in as those quotes above are seen as a form of hate-speech, not only trans women, but also many other people who have any knowledge whatsoever about transsexualism. How on earth could the Academies by complicit in its publication - and call it "cutting-edge science"?
Bailey's plays on language and tense to reclassify trans women as men:
Among its many serious flaws and errors, this book continues an old historic stereotypical conflation of trans identities with gay identities. By calling a trans woman who likes men a "homosexual transsexual", and by retaining that terminology in the present tense even after the woman fully transitions, all you have to do it is connect the dots to get "and thus this person is a type of gay man". It would be an entirely different matter if Bailey were to say "she WAS a homosexual transsexual" but that "she is now a heterosexual postop woman". One might disagree with the use of the term homosexual transsexual for the woman's preop condition, but at least she would emerge in the conversation as a "woman" after transition.
However, Bailey does not use past tense when calling post transition women "homosexual transsexuals" or "autogynephilic transsexuals" (the other, fetishistic type in his classification scheme). He always uses present tense and thus transports their imagery and gender back into the time of transition when he saw them and gendered them in his own mind.
It is in this use of language, which flies by most people's notice, that Bailey reinforces existing stereotypes of trans women - by projecting into their lives after gender metamorphosis the same gendered classifications as he uses prior to their transitions - by constantly reinforcing in readers' minds that these women are still "men". Once you notice that this is what he is doing, you will find evidence for it everywhere throughout his writings about transsexualism. Indeed, all his so-called "scientific research" on transsexualism seems aimed at proving that transsexual women are still "men", usually by capturing stories and anecdotes of transsexual women's lives that seem to support this viewpoint, and ignoring or declaring as "lies" any evidence against his classification scheme.
The potential negative impacts of this book:
I'm one of the lucky trans women in the roulette wheel of this life. Somehow I made it to high ground, and found many years of happiness in my new life. Even so, I find this book to be personally very hurtful.
Therefore, I can only imagine how the words in this book will hurt tens of thousands of other trans women, many of whom are not so fortunate as I. These hurts will accumulate over many years, especially if flawed claims in this book are propagated widely into university classrooms as "science" under the imprimatur of the Academy.
It is this unflinching, unremorseful public staining of all transitioned trans women (whether pre or postop) as "still being men", that is at the heart of our reaction to this book. The book's publication by the National Academies, and their claiming that it is cutting edge science, exposes the Academies as willing conspirators in propagating what will eventually be seen as sone of the worst junk science to come down the pike in decades.
The reason for our greatest concern about this book is not that is was published, but that it was published by the National Academy. If the publisher had been any other, we would not have raised this alert. Instead it would have been business as usual, we would have complained within the trans community, and the book would have languished as a sorry piece of pop-psychology as other such academic caricatures of trans women have done in the past.
The influence of the Academies spread far and wide across the academic and intellectual elite of the nation. It's imprimatur gives the appearance of a stamp of approval on its pubiclations, with far reaching implications - including being widely read and taken seriously within the Academy, i.e., within the elite elected intelligentsia of the nation.
Well, what exactly does this book do:
In this book, which claims to report original research and "cutting edge science", Bailey paints a sensationalist, prurient picture of transsexual woman as sex-obsessed objects, dehumanizing and pathologizing them as "transsexual men" whose urges to change sex arise from exotic sexual practices, rather than seeing them as transsexual women who have been forced by nature and society to run a gauntlet of emotionally shattering experiences as they struggle to escape into their proper gender.
At the heart of the outcry being expressed by trans women who have long since assimilated into society, and who have left their difficult pasts behind, is Bailey's insistance on still referring to all transsexuals in term that define them as "men". He does this by saying that there are two kinds of "transsexual men" (never indicating whether preop of postop), namely "homosexual transsexuals" and "autogynephilic transsexuals".
Bailey refers even to postoperative married trans women as "homosexual transsexuals". There can be no other interpretation of this terminology than that he means they are "homosexual men". Remember, the term "homosexual" is a gendered term: It is always implies the gender of the labelled person as a function of the gender of their love partner. This relabeling of the many transitioned trans women (whether preop or postop) who are attracted to men as being "homosexual men" runs counter to all current social practices in the United States, and is causing considerable alarm, especially since it is being stated as a "scientific fact" in Bailey's book and his presentations.
There is probably nothing crueler that one can do in words than to refer to a transitioned trans woman in gendered terms that implicitly gender her as a "man", and then insist that "science says it is so".
However, few people other than trans women and their friends and loved ones can sense how egregious is this error in verbal gendering. Most people just "don't get it", because they too have mostly figured all along that being trans is simple an extreme form of "being a gay man". Even many trans kids used to erroneously identify themselves initially as being gay, until they found out that they didn't fit into the gay community but were something else instead. As we'll see, a paradigm shift has occured in recent years where the difference between gay and trans is now much clearer on the streets.
How could this have happened? How could this junk science have been published by the Academies?
That is what this investigation is all about: To find out how on earth this book could have been published as "cutting edge science" when it is so totally out of contact with reality on our streets and with the actual results of the science that has recently been done in this area.
The "two-type" classification scheme on which Bailey's book is based was "invented" many years ago. It is not new cutting edge science. That classification scheme is an old, long discredited theory from the 1980's, a theory that does not take into account the vast amount of clinical practice and data that have accumulated since that time. Furthermore, the Bailey book does not cite ANY of the alternative research results and clinical results on the treatment of transsexual women published since that time.
However, Bailey's book plays into common stereotypes of trans women, and thus it "seems to make sense" to people who have never actually met any trans women. Apparantly it was in this atmosphere of ignorance and stereotyped imagery that the book was somehow sneaked into the Academy Press, in an case of incredibly poor oversight by the Academies.
Back in 1994 when Bailey started his work on transsexualism, he had already been indoctrinated into existing theory by Ray Blanchard to think of "classic" transsexualism is actually a form of homosexuality. As a researcher on homosexuality who had not done research on transsexualism, Bailey quite unwittingly must have felt himself qualified to do research on transsexualism without additional preparation (after all, it was "homosexuality", right?)..
As we'll see, perhaps as a result of his assumption of expertise and that in most cases he was actually interviewing "homosexual men", Baily did not take extensive case histories of his transsexual subjects. He felt he "knew" a lot about them by simply meeting and oberving them a few times, and hearing a bit about their current sex lives and the motivations for their gender metamorphosis that they reported to him.
As a result, his field work and interviews of subjects amounted to little more than "data-mining" of anecdotal reports about and very brief interviews of a small handful of trans women. These women were not randomly selected, but who were all brought to him by one trans women (Cher), who sought him out to educate him about transsexualism. He extracted from their reports and statements tidbits here and there, and then years later used those anecdotes towrite this book. The book is presented by the National Academies as supposedly being "cutting edge science" which supports Blanchard's old, long-discredited classification scheme. However, as we will demonstrate, it is nothing more than a popularization of,and indoctrination into, Blanchard's scheme via a series of anecdotal stories framed so as to teach that point of view.
We have discovered that Bailey has done no original research on transsexualism on which to base his claims in this book. Then, as our investigation began uncovering undeniable evidence along these lines, Bailey himself finally came out and admitted as much on his public website:
"- - - One misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) by several critics is that the theory of autogynephilia is based upon my own data. In fact, the theory was developed long before I began to study transsexuals. It is not based on my data at all, but on work by Ray Blanchard. - - - In my book I do present details about the lives of transsexuals whom I have met personally or with whom I have corresponded. My interactions with these individuals were not, however, the basis for the theory. Instead, they were the basis for my portrayals of real people, struggling or triumphing in real situations. That is, I used what I learned from these individuals to try to convey the complexities of Blanchard's theoryand of these people's livesto readers.- - - "
Therefore, it is now clear that the National Academies statement that "Based on his original research, Baileys book is grounded firmly in science" is a falsehood. Bailey has done no original research on transsexualism in support of the opinions stated as scientific facts in this book. In other words Bailey's claims are not based on scientifically conducted, thorough interviews.
His research" consisted merely of collecting anecdotal "stories" he picked up during brief, informal, non-scientific meetings and occasional social encounters with a small handful of trans women from a specific neighborhood and ethnic background. These were then combined with the "teachings" about transsexualism from one other trans woman ("Cher" in the book) who tried to explain transsexualism to Bailey, who had not done any extensive scholarly readings or field work on transsexualism on his own.
He collected those anecdotal stories from only a half dozen trans women. These women were being mentored by Cher, and all of them were brought to see him by Cher to get their SRS letters signed by Bailey. Bailey conducted these interviews as if they were only for the purpose of meeting the girls and helping them with their SRS letters, and he didn't take down any written notes other than writing the girls before/after names down.
Bailey did these women a very valuable service by writing their SRS letters without charging them. These women were all having difficulties with the costs of transition, and so they were very grateful to Bailey.
Note, however, that Bailey did not inform these girls at the time that they were "research subjects", even thought he later expediently used various selectively-recalled anecdotes from those meetings as evidence of "research on transsexualism. And he used those selective anecdotes in such a way as to be totally consistent with the "classification theory" he believed in when he started this "research"!
Bailey then stated his resulting opinions as irrefutable scientific fact, and has for years ignored all information reported to him about transsexualism that is contrary to his opinions. Many of us are now pressing for this series of actions to be investigated by Northwestern University, and by any agencies that might have funded this "research", in order to determine if research and professional conduct rules may have been violated.
Meantime the Academies were somehow suckered into thinking this book of anecdotes supporting an old, long discarded classification scheme, was "cutting edge science" regarding transsexualism done by Bailey. How was this done? We don't know yet - but we're going to work hard to find out.
But what about the Academies' reactions? Don't they know that this book is junk science?
The Academies' leaders must know by now that this book is junk science - i.e., merely a collection of anecdotes told to support a long-discredited scheme for classifying transsexual women. They must know that the claims of being "cutting edge" research are fabrications. Furthermore, Bailey never gained enough background context information or life-history information to actually confirm or deny whether those anecdotes were sufficient in themselves to support or counter Blanchard's "classification theory".
The Academies must also now realize by now that this book is an attempt by Bailey to gain notoriety and to commercialize his book by smearing transsexual women with the stain of prurient, deviant sexuality. After all, sex sells! Bailey knows full-well that carefully selected anecdotal stories about drag queens, shemale prostitutes, and "sex changes" might attract quite an audience among male students and male scientists. Those guys are often too inhibited to go into an adult bookstore, and certainly too inhibited to even go near (much less buy) the real thing. Well, no problema: Those guys can now buy "science books" from the National Academy Press, and in an exercise of second hand voyeurism learn about the secrets of "transsexuals's sex lives" through Bailey's voyeuristic male eyes.
However, the Academies apparantly cannot bring themselves to admit these facts. They are even still very actively promoting this book, while everyone at the Academies wants to duck the controversty the book has caused. Of course that's no surprise. No senior executive wants to admit that any serious errors were committed on their watch. So what are they doing? Just as you might expect, they are "slow-rolling"this controversy, hoping upon hope that it will just go away.
However, by promoting Bailey's book with the statement "Based on his original research, Baileys book is grounded firmly in science", statements now clearly known to be falsehoods, the Academies are doing a great injustice - dignifying junk science as "science" - and in the process propagating a scandalously stigmatizing "scheme for classifying transsexuals" into university psychology courses and out into the public realm in general.
I predict that in the end, this will result is significant damage to the credibility and reputation of the National Academies, and that the responsible executives will not be able to escape responsibility for having inflicted this wound on a highly vulnerable minority, and for continuing to do so even after being thoroughly alerted that this was happening.
What is of most pressing concern to trans women at the moment is that, given the newsworthyness of "transsexualism" and the curiousity many psychology students have about transsexual people, this book is finding a ready audience in mainstream psychology courses at major universities. This book is now being heavily marketed and is being adopted by undergraduate psychology courses at major universities throughout the United States, presumable because it has the stamp of approval of the National Academy. Thus it may be taken as gospel by the uninitiated who want to learn about transsexualism in order to be "modern and informed", without any exposure to the "other side of the story", namely that many if not most transsexual people can successfully survive transsexualism by completing a change of gender. Here are links to the book, both at Amazon.com and at the National Academy Press website:
After reading the book, you should then carefully read the following report about J. M. Bailey's recent lecture at Stanford University, in front of 10 faculty members and 100 students. Perhaps then you will be able to understand the concerns of many transpeople about the sensationalist nature of this book, and the manner in which Bailey is teaching others to use it. Our concerns go way beyond the issue of the pubilcation of "junk science" by the Academy. What is of even more pressing concern the public defamation and caricaturing of trans people in this book, by scientists, in the name of science.
Of course many students who are not transgender and who may not know any transgender students, may not understand why someone would take offense at Bailey's caricatures of transwomen. They may not immediately sense how his use of language continuously implicitly genders transwomen as men. This situation is analogous to the insensitivities that almost all white people have regarding how the use of language and cultural observations by whites so often is perceived to be racist by African Americans. Unless you are on the receiving end of it, it just passes in one ear and out the other. But to those who are targeted by such language, it can hurt and hurt deeply.
What are students actually learning from Bailey's book, lectures and teachings?
Perhaps the best way to understand what Bailey is teaching, and how it is part of an ideology and thought-style about gay men and trans women, is to read reports by students about what they have actually learned from Bailey. There is an excellent, articulate, thorought report available about what a student learned from Bailey - namely the overview by Ted Barlow of his undergraduate thesis entitled "A few things that I learned studying transsexuals"
In presenting his classification theory of transsexualism, Bailey fails to elaborate the alternative scientific point of view of the condition, namely that transsexual people experience and respond to a gender identity dysphoria (GID), in which their gender feelings are in contrast with their assigned birth gender. Under this schema, trans identities are seen as othogonal to gay identities, and, for example, a trans woman can be gay or heterosexual with respect to her own gender identification. And in this schema, one would call a trans woman "gay" if she was attracted to women, not to men.
Furthermore, once a trans girl or woman has socially transitioned (but is still preop), we would refer to her as a transgender woman, not as a "type of gay man". And all treatment would be aimed at a successful long-term outcome from her overall gender transition. For more background on the condition and the exploratory science now being done in this area, see the following link:
Throughout most of Europe and the United States, gender counselors, endocrinologists and surgeons have been treating the most intense cases of GID by enabling them to undergo a complete form of "gender transition", which involves a physical change in primary and secondary sex characteristics by hormones and sex reassignment surgery (SRS), and a social transition in which the persons themselves shift over into their new social gender during a period of "transition". Many tens of thousands of trans people in the U.S., both male to female (MtF) and female to male (FtM) have undergone transsexual gender transitions (including SRS) over the past 40 years or so. Most of these people are now "invisible", because they live in "stealth mode" and conceal their transsexual pasts.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis of GID, also known as gender dysphoria, has become a stigmatizing label, because the American Psychiatric Association lists it (GID) in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a "mental disorder".
This classification as a mental disorder rather than as an innate natural condition has long been questioned by many researchers, caregivers and transpeople. It is reminiscent of the earlier classification of homosexuality in the DSM by psychiatrists years ago. As in the case of homosexuality, there has never been any proven link between GID and other actual mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar conditions, etc. Except for their gender dysphoria, transgender people are pretty much like everyone else, and there are now many calls for reform of the DSM to remove gender dysphoria and GID from the classification as a "mental disorder".
For some examples of how well adjusted many transgender people are, and examples of how their gender transitions can turn out, please see the following webpages. In these pages you'll find detailed information, including many photographs and personal diaries, about the lives of 130 postoperative trans women and trans men. By studying these pages, you can gain an understanding of the wide diversity of social origins, first evidences of transsexualism, and then the resulting gender trajectories of trans people as they go through transition and then re-integrate into society:
As we proceed into this investigative report, please keep coming back to the stories and images that you find in those important pages. Those pages contain many data points out into the large world of postoperative, transitioned transpeople - a world that was totally over the horizon from where J.M. Bailey and Ray Blanchard did their research studies. And those 130 stories are only the very tip of the iceberg of tens of thousands more.
Every year, somewhere between 1500 and 2000 people in the U.S. undergo sex reassignment surgery as part of their overall gender transition. Many large corporations, including some of the most prestigious high-technology firms such as Intel, Apple, and IBM now have official policies that protect the HR/EO rights of trans people, and also provide support for any employee who undergoes gender transition "on-the-job".
It is this larger world, this world in which GID is being treated and gender transitions are becoming "routine", even among professional workers in our leading corporations, that you must keep in mind when reading Bailey's book. Only then will you begin to see it for what it is: Flawed science based on limited interviews with two extremely narrow and especially selected pools of research subjects, pools of subjects that almost anyone can see are not representative of the larger world beyond Bailey's and Blanchard's narrow horizons.
In this report, we will take you down the following paths, all of which to keep in mind as we go along:
(i) We will explore how many people, especially in the gay and lesbian community have gradually begun to understand the reality of GID, and to see that "trans" does not equal "gay", and vice-versa. In tiis path we will follow the social propagation of the difficult-to-grasp conception that someone may actually have inner gender feelings in conflict with their physical sex and social gender. It is the story of how one-by-one many gay people have begun to encounter trans people suffering from GID, and have individually had their eyes opened in the process. This process is similar to the way many straight folks over the past thirty years one by one have come to understand that gays are regular people too - by getting to know them one by one, and seeing that reality.
(ii) We will explore how Blanchard and Bailey, working within a narrower horizon of research subjects, and never ever believing in the GID explanation of transsexuality, came to believe with certainty in their two-type theory. We'll then explore how that theory began to propagate among a subset of sexologists and psychologists. This path will later expand to report on the detailed results of our investigations into the treatment of research subject by both Blanchard and Bailey - based on a large volume of reports now coming in from their prior subjects. These reports will enable us to better document the methods used by these researchers, and also to better characterize the pool of subject involved in their studies. The key thing to remember when studying those reports is that do not ever consider it possibile that GID "really exists. Read Blanchard's research papers, and you will find this position embedded deeply throughout. Blanchard and Bailey consider MtF transsexuals to be men, period, whether preop of postop. Just ask them point blank and they will tell you this. This understanding alone will make it clearer why so many research subjects who suffer from GID report many humiliations while in the hands of these researchers.
(iii) We will also discuss the clash of paradigms that has resulted as these two viewpoint have come into conflict as a result of the publication of this book by the National Academy. The conflict arises because by Academy publication, this book about what will soon be seen as very flawed theory is being taken almost as if it were scientific fact - and is being introduced as such into undergraduate psychology classes in the U.S. It arises further because of the conduct of J.M.Bailey during his lecture tours at leading universities - his conduct and demeanor as he presents this material which many transpeople find intensely humiliating and stigmatizing, while showing no empathy or human feelings for the people he thus stigmatizes.
(iv) We will make a more detailed critique of this scientific methods and results of this work, focussing on areas of clear concern even now: the ethnographic and sociological foundations for the work (the researchers' limited data horizon's in transland), the self-limited pooling of research subjects within the data horizon, the failure to use female control subjects, the informal nature of conducting and reporting subject interviews from which theory was constructed, the extended history of denials of reported counter-evidence (whether reported by subjects or outsiders) as "lies" and "fabrications", and the deliberate overpromotion of this theory by public defamations of any who attempt to question it.
(v) We will also discuss the damage this book can do to transpeople if it is used extensively in university psychology courses as an "introduction to transsexualism", especially if not placed in contrast to the many other excellent introductions to the topic now easily available on the web and in books. This will then lead us ito a critique of academic pychology as a discipline - asking questions such as how could top thought leaders in that field not recognize this book's fatal flaws in data horizons? How could they not have been aware of the large and growing transgender movement as distinct from gay and lesbian identities? How can they be so out of contact with modern ethnographic and sociological realities, so as to take this book almost at face value as "scientific fact"? Good questions, eh?
Consider a young teenager who present with intense gender dysphoria. Is this a boy with a mental problem, or a girl with a physical problem?
To Bailey, a male-to-female transsexual teen suffering intense GID is seen as a boy having a mental problems, in particular he is seen as suffering from one of two forms of sexually-driven deviancy. Bailey conducts research grounded in the key assumption that GID doesn't exist. He does not explore, nor conduct research using the alternative point of view that, for example, a male-to-female transsexual teen suffering intense GID can be thought of as a girl with a physical problem.
By taking the mental problem point of view upon encountering GID, Bailey observes behavior that seems very deviant and lurid from a male point of view, instead of being seen as natural attempts to rectify intense gender angst from a female point of view. From that male point of view, his sees the feminization projects that MtF trans women must complete as being incredibly lurid and strange - and he reports them from this state of mind - reporting as a male to other males about things that seem inexplicable to him - even though many women can understand exactly what is going on as the GID girl tries desperately to gain womanhood.
These two viewpoints have been in conflict ever since the transsexual phenonemon was recognized in western society and subjected to our "science". The problem we face is that the first book blessed by the Academy presents only one of those points of view, and one that has not been found to provide any relief for the condition becuase it treats trans women as deranged men. It is only from the second viewpoint of GID that we have found ways to help transsexual people afflicted with this condition, by using medical technology to help them change their physical gender so as to match their innner feelings, and to help them learn and adjust and adapt and assimilite into their new and now more appropriate social gender.
In reading through this investigative report, if there is one thing I recommend that you keep in mind, it is this: Every statement made by anyone on this subject is typically from one of the other of the BMP (Boy with a Mental Problem) or GPP (Girl with a Physical Problem) paradigmatic viewpoints regarding GID, or somewhere along a continuum in between."
In order to make sense of statements, you need to know which paradigm the speaker holds. And in order to follow argumentation, you need to know the paradigm states of all parties involved. You will notice in the process that most "argmumentation" is actually ineffective "cross paradigm" efforts at communication of ideas that simply cannot bridge the gap in paradigms. If one wants to resolve questions about which is the preferred paradigm in any particular situation, i.e., which might be more helpful in prediction outcomes based on treatments - it might be better to avoid argumentation, and instead look at case histories of actual treated cases under the two paradigms.
A corollary to this observation is that whenever you heard loud argumentation and emotional engagement, it is likely due to the fact that statements that make sense within one of the paradigms make nonsense in the other. The participants involved cannot easily step outside their existing viewpoint and try to see if the statement does make sense in the other point of view. Only then can participants find common ground for moving forward to more productive discussions about things that make a difference - like how do we best help people - and right now. Otherwise, cross-paradigm argumentation can continue indefinitely, without ever producing any useful results.
Further confusing the situation is that those who often see trans women as women will sometimes see cases that do not fit the GPP model. For example, they will see a very feminine, well practiced drag queen who can appear to be a woman, but who will then admit that she is a "man" and enjoyed having teased you. OTOH, they may sometimes have a very hard time "seeing woman" in an older non-passable trans woman - even though in their hearts they know she is one inside, and can feel her vibes as "woman".
And those who seldom or never let themselves "see the woman" in a trans woman, but always think BMP when confronted with one. But these folks can get fooled too. Often is the time when a beautiful postop trans woman dates and has a wonderful affair with an unsuspecting guy who, if he knew of her past would instantly "think of her as a man".
This conflict in viewpoints and how it plays out in reactions to individual trans women can be very complex: Parents who see BMP in their postop trans daughter may always think of her as their son, giving off strange vibes to her even if they are "accepting". At the same time, everyone around them who does not know she is trans, will react perfectly normally to her and just see "girl". But then, if they find out about her past, they will quickly sort into those who still see "girl", and those who now see BMP.
Every case of GID transsexualism runs this guantlet of shifting viewpoints. Those cases which transition in environments where the "benefit of the doubt" is given to transitioners appear to have a much easier time of it, and thus greater chances of success and assimilation as women. Those who transition in environments where the majority of people hold the BMP view have an uphill struggle against this paradigm - and often must leave those environments following their transitions if to have any chances at social assimilation.
In the end, the preferred paradigms for visualizing and treating GID transsexualism will emerge as whatever produces the most successful outcomes - outcomes measurd in terms of enabling people to successfully survive transsexualism and go on to live full and productive lives.
The very first time you meet someone, you get a lasting "first impression" that is hard to modify later on. The same thing is true about topics in books.
The first book you read on something tends to bias all future views of that topic, especially if it is a controversial topic. And especially if you read it in a college psychology class. That is the great danger in Bailey's book. It is going to create a totally warped, biased and non-representative view of transsexualism that will stain the corridors of academe for a generation or more.
Let's do a little thought experiment here:
Suppose that instead of first reading Bailey's book, all those psychology students had read Mom, I need to be a girl, an inspiring book about the male-to-femalle gender transition of a young transsexual girl named Danielle, written by her mother (Just Evelyn) who fully supported her transition.
By calling Danielle a "transsexual girl" we are not labelling her so much as using now-common terminology that means "Danielle was certain that she wanted to grow up to be a woman, even though she was born as a boy". It's no more and no less than that. In gender counseling terminology, she suffered from intense GID.
This book tells of her coming out to her mother, and how her mother helped her through her difficult transition to become a girl, both physically and socially. In the process, we learn a tremendous amount about what transsexualism feels like to such a teenager, about what she must endure in order to transition, and about how those around her help and/or hurt her during this process.
We also learn something deeper about the underlying conundrum here. Not only is the subject of transsexualism seen through the lenses of two different viewpoints, but every transsexual person is individually seen through one or the other of those lenses.
There are two diametrically opposed views of MtF GID transsexualism, and of individual transsexual women who have completed their transitions. So it has always been, and so it will always be. And guess what? You get to pick which view you are going to take of it. There is no science now to guide you in your choice. Even if you knew all the arcane details of the genetic, developmental and gender variations in intersexualism, you are still left with a fundamental constraint: Only a person themself can tell you what gender they are, underneath their clothing and inside the shell of externally developed physicality.
You've simply got to decide, depending on your gut instinct, what is happening here. For example, you've got to decide which way of looking at a particular transsexual woman is most productive, from your viewpoint and the viewpoints of those around you. Most of the time, the way you see her will be determined by factors outside your control - your prejudgments, your earlier knowing of the person in her earlier gender, or pressures from those around you to see her a certain way. And the outcomes of transsexual women's lives are dramatically affected by how all those around her make these choices.
The choices are between seeing the young teenager in the figure below as "a boy with a mental problem", or "a girl with a physical problem".
How we are seen is a major concern all through the lives of transsexual people. As we get further into and beyond transition, each new stranger we meet is ever more likely to see us in our new, corrected social gender. However, first impressions count. Once someone has gendered you, you may never be able to correct that first impression. They may always see the "boy" in there somewhere, instead of seeing the emergent or fully emerged girl. This is the conundrum of gendering, whether of oneself or of others, as is seen in the following figure from Mom, I Need to be a Girl
Ever so much depends on whether people around a transsexual girl can "see her". If her parents come to see her as a girl who needs help - they will help her, and will do so with a tremendous sense of urgency. They will be able to visualize her pain as her body is gradually being ruined by testosterone. On the other hand, if the people around her only see her as a "boy with a mental problem", then she may be doomed.
There is a gender difference in how parents of TS teens make these decisions. Mothers are more often able to "see the girl inside". They may have sensed it all along, worrying that their child would become gay - not even knowing that transsexualism exists. Mothers are the ones who most often help a teenager transition. They often can visualize the angst a girl faces is she had to wait till later in life to become a woman, watching her girlish beauty and dreams for love being destroyed in the process.
However, fathers often have much more trouble with seeing "the girl". They want a son, and have always projected a male-gendered future for their boy. They will most often just see a "boy with a mental problem" (BMP), and will hope that he "doesn't turn out gay". And they may never see the girl who has emerged, no matter how obvious it is to all others around them. Instead they will hang their heads in shame, because in their minds their son has become a drag queen, and is doing it in public - and all the time.
Consider the differences in first impressions:
Now consider the difference in first impressions not of a particular transsexual teen, but of the condition of transsexualism itself, depending upon which of two books one reads first: The Man Who Would be Queen or Mom, I Need to be a Girl.
By reading about the story of the transition of a young MtF teenager through the eyes of the mother who helped her transition, the whole drama of gender transition unfolds, and others can get to see this drama as the participants see it and feel it. In the process, the reader learns a lot about the many challenges these kids, about how others could help them and make it easier for them, and about how things turn out afterwards.
Anyone who reads Bailey's book first will get a very different impression of what transsexualism is, and about what transsexual people are all about. Bailey learned about transsexualism from researchers who thought it was a form of "homosexuality" (which is Bailey's research specialty). He had often seen gay male drag queens (gay men who in those bars dress as women, to perform and/or flirt with gay men) , but seldom a transsexual woman. When (as we'll see) he was introduced to several young latina preop transsexual women who came to him for SRS letters, he visualized them as being "effeminate homosexual men", as an extreme form of drag queen, and many people make this association since occasional TS girls do move through the drag scene on their way to transition.
As a "sexologist", Bailey is interested in what people do sexually and his interviews focus primarily on sexual activities. Thus his interviews of these girls reinforced an image of "homosexuality" since they were attracted to men and to Bailey they were "men" themselves.
The unfolding imagery about these women in Bailey's book seems to be a very warped and limited view of transsexualism from the viewpoints of those who've known trans girls like Danielle. From this GID GPP viewpoint, Bailey's methods and reports seem reminiscent of those of little boys looking through holes in the wall of girl's restrooms and describing what they see inside. How could it be otherwise? Bailey's view of us is limited by the small and localized sample in his study. And even with them, he only peepsthrough the "restroom walls" of his limited world and sees what he thinks of as mentally deranged boys dressing as girls - not TS girls suffering from GID and struggling to escape their boy's bodies.
If you were a professor of psychology at a major university, and only knew about Bailey's book, and had never knowingly met a transitioned transsexual woman, you might be tempted to adopt Bailey's book - thinking this is a cool, timely topic to get into.
By doing so, you would help spread the Baileyan as the "first impression of transsexualism" into your students minds. They would never hear about the GID viewpoint and the thousands of successfully treated cases under that viewpoint. For the rest of their lives, these students may be unable to cast off this Baileyan image of transsexualim. Think what would happen then if one of their kids came out to them as transsexual? Or one of their friends, colleagues, or co-workers.
Then think what would happen if instead the faculty member had adopted Just Evelyn's book, and spread a more accurate overall introduction to what transsexual kids suffering from GID experience, and how they resolve their gender conflict, and how they can be helped to do this by those who care for them, love them, and understand how to help them.
If you would like to use Mom, I Need to be a Girl in your course, it is easy to do: Evelyn has given the copyright to the world. You can just print it in landscape mode from my website and use it. Any time you want. No charge. And there are tons of other good references on this extended reading list that you could then refer to for more details.
Think of the huge difference first impressions make. Then decide which book YOU would use in your undergraduate course!
For further insight into the inner feelings of gender angst in young children and into how such kids struggle to find their way, you can read the online book (now in development) by a teenage MtF girl named Vicky. Vicky is just now undergoing gender transition with the support of her parents. Her diary, notes and essays provide deep, authentic insights into what these experiences are like for many trans kids.
The concept of gender identity angst as a separate and othogonal condition from homosexuality derives from the work of Harry Benjamin, M.D. who wrote the book entitled The Transsexual Phenomenon in 1966. Over the years since, rather quietly and mostly out of sight, many tens of thousands of sufferers of this condition both MtF and FtM have undergone gender transitions and gone on to live full lives in their new gender.
However, in every case, these transsexual people have had to face the reality that many of the people in their past lives cannot "regender them", even when they reach the point where almost all strangers they meet do correctly see them in their new gender. Therefore, individually and as a group transsexual people have always faced the struggle of being caught between those people who can only think of them or see them in their birth gender vs those who do see them in their new social gender. The interesting question to ponder is "how had and is the reality of gender transitions propagating through our society - so that more and more people are aware of these transitions and do see post-transition trans people as "in their new gender".
You've seen the "two views of the girl above". Now ask yourself, how did the "girl with a physical problem idea" begin to propagate, and in which communities? Then try to visualize how this new idea of the "reality of GID" (gender identity dysphoria) propagate as a function of time (in years) within the relevant communities (among the TS population, the general public, the media, gays, psychologists, and even the Academy). It is important also to notice that it did not propagate in some of those communities until very recently, and it still hasn't propagated into some of them. Try to keep this "paradigm differentially propagating through through different populations" image in your head.
And think to yourself: Is that girl abover a drag queen? Is she the "other type" of transsexual person (see below) that Bailey labels an "autogynephile"? The answer to both questions is no - and yet as we'll see, under Bailey's "theory" she must be one or the other. So something is really wrong here. What we'll find is that Bailey simply does not believe that someone can be a GPP - i.e., he does not believe in the existance of cross-gender feelings.
A message from the past: Recognize that when you read, The Man who would be Queen, you are reading a "message from the past. You are encountering the consensus viewpoint about "what GID transsexuals are" that was held in the mid-90's gay community. The modern view of GID had not propagated into that community back then. It just "didn't exist" in the consciousness and personal experience of most gay and lesbian people back then.
Bailey gained that gay male consensus view of transsexualism by doing ethnography on "transsexuals" while talking to drag queens in gay bars. For many years, Bailey's primary research area has homosexuality. Thus this "1990's gay viewpoint" should be no surprise. It is very important to recall in all future discussions that Bailey's book contains material from this 1990's gay male viewpoint (and many gays still have this viewpoint).
From the mid-90's gay male viewpoint, any male who crossdresses and comes into gay bars is a "drag queen" (DQ). I.e., he is a gay male who does drag in order to attract attention and possibly lovers among the gay male patrons there. It is also assumed that anyone who does drag is "gay". Otherwise why would they be in a gay bar?
Early gay confusions about "Sex changes": have been a total mystery to the gay community for decades, and were and are very controversial within it. Since a small minority of all TS girls move through the gay drag scene, gay men and especially DQ's see some of these young trans women from time to time. These young trans women are in those gay bars because they want to dress as girls in public and learn a lot of mannerism things before they go further into transition. However, these girls are usually NOT interested in gay sex with gay men, because gay men want to be with men not women, and those girls do not want to have anyone see or play with their male parts, reminding them that they have them. This works out OK, because very few gay men are attracted to apparent drag queens who actually "vibe like girls" instead of men.
This social structuring then led to the "old gay myth about transsexuals" which Bailey reports: Namely that the TS girls are drag queens who are unattractive to gay men. They are too feminine and vibe like girls, so gays react to them almost as if they "were women". Bailey thus speculates that they go get sex-changed in order to be able to attract straight men instead of gay men.
The very key point that Bailey missed here, and something that some of those DQ's should have told him is that most of those TS girls never wanted gay sex, they wanted het male attention as any other girls would. The TS girls themselves didn't go to those gay bars for sex, but went their in order to safely dress as females and be "seen as women".
Bailey should have considered this possibility but he just couldn't, because he was still in the old viewpoint. He had no way of seeing those "TS boys" as girls and thus sensing their true psychic needs. Missing the existence of their inner gender identity as girls, he couldn't visualize that they didn't want gay men to play with them sexually as if they were men too. They didn't want anyone, even themselves (if they could avoid it), from seeing their male genitalia (which they often tucked and hid away).The self-image of TS girls is one filled with disgust for their male genitalia, which seem like an awful growth on their body. This is a very different self-image than gay boys whether macho or femme - all those gay boys really like their male genitalia. Bailey never seems to have picked up on these differences.
If he had thought of this possibility, it would have been easy to test. He thought that only the most feminine "TS boys" wanted SRS and others didn't because they could easily get gay men. However what he missed was that many of the less feminine DQ's who are actually TS girls do get propositioned by gay men - and they most often politely turn them down. Even those less feminine, more boyish TS girls, do not want gay love. They want to be women externally, just like they feel inside.
Witnessing the drama of transition: When reading Mom, I Need to be a Girl, you are able to witness the late 1990's drama of transsexual gender transition as a teenage girl suffering from GID transitions to womanhood. This is a very typical situation seen in the transgender population - unfolding earlier here than usual, because the TS teen has the support of her mother. By following this girl as she struggles to get out a male body, we confront transsexualism as an intense manisfestation of transgenderism - of cross gender feelings that she perceives must urgently be resolved somehow. All those TS people who encounter Danielle during her TS transition see her as a girl. Within the trans population, the GID model propagated many decades ago, almost from the time when "sex changes" were first done in the U.S. in the 1960's. However, it has been a slow process for the general population to become aware of the reality that there are tens of thousands of postop trans people among us - and that many of them are never recognized as anything but in their new social gender.
Gays begin to go through the BMM>GPP shift: It has been only within the past three or four years that the thought leadership of the gay community has gone through the "BMP to GPP" paradigm shift when thinking about sufferers of GID. Like many trans women can, they too can often "see" MtF transsexual kids as girls instead of drag queens. For decades, TS women have struggled to explain ourselves to the gay community, because they often "misspoke for us" to a media who thought we were DQ's too. In fact, trans women have been in an ongoing struggle for years in an effort to explain themselves to gays and lesbians.
However, many and lesbian thought leaders have finally "got it". This happened largely because of the tensions between trans women and gays over the media coverage of several transgender tragedies in recent years. The gay community told the media that the trans women involved as if they were "gay drag queens", thus taking these tragedies as gay hate crimes. The gay community just didn't yet grasp that "transgender women" were something different from drag queens. The stormy TG vs gay conflicts and rhetoric about how to present the stories of these tragedies provide the backdrop for working out the new understanding of transgenderism and transsexualism by gay men and women.
The watershed may have come with publication of the New York Times Article entitled "The Inconvenient Woman", which appeared on May 28, 2000.
That article showed how gay rights groups had portrayed Calpernia Addams, the transgender lover of murdered Pfc. Barry Winchell, as a "gay man", when in fact she was most trans people would informally call a transgender woman (she is now a postop woman). It was a dynamite article, and got lots of people in the gay community thinking about trans people, and who we really might be, and whether in fact we were "gay". And of course everyone started finally noticing that we really were girls, and among ourselves only thought we were gay, and felt we were gay, if we liked girls!
"The Inconvenient Woman" news story showed the world how the "gay myth about transsexuals are really just male drag queens" had sustained itself. To gays the realities of our lives were invisible. Most of them just didn't know we existed. We were thought of as being among the drag queens, and presumably the femme garb came off when we left the gay bars too - even if we'd had SRS. This "invisibility" became very clear when Calpernia showed up at a gay rights press conference protesting the murder of Barry, a man she loved deeply. She was simply ignored by both the gays and the press! They were all looking for Barry's lover. People kept asking where is Barry's gay boyfriend? Only a few noticed Calpernia when she said "that's me" (but I'm a girl). After all, she was just a woman, so how could she be "gay"?
These are profound questions and it took time for the answers to settle into the gay community's minds. But now the GPP model of GID began to spread, and spread fairly rapidly.
And that is why, while working on his book's research, Bailey couldn't have known that we existed. He himself held the gay myth of transsexuals working on his book, long before Calpernia's story came out and so deeply impacted gay community thought.
Trans gets on the map: Since the time of Calpernia's story, a sea-change has occurred among gay thought leadership, especially at the powerful Human Rights Campaign. Since then they have been more proactive in pushing for transgender rights as separate and additionally needed protections from those for gays - and more and more activist groups have "added the T" to their acronyms. And we've seen the emergence into the spotlight of transgender activist organizations such as National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), which have led an expanding movement to insure the human rights of transgender people.
All these groups have had enormous impact just this past year, by causing many major cities in the U.S. to add gender identity under their HR/EO protections, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Philadelphia. All these cities now recognize cross-gender identity as a unique and different situation than homosexuality, and that transgender people need protections that they do not get under "sexual orientation" protections for gays. Many major, highly respected corporations now provide EO/HR protections for trans people, including Intel, Apple, IBM, American Airlines, and many more - especially in the high-technology industry. (Kind of amazing that Bailey didn't notice how many folks out there are fully aware of GID trans people, and their need for human rignts protections as distinct from protections for gays and lesbians.)
Under this new paradigm, the gay activists also behaved differently than in the past when a young transgender teenage girl named Gwen Araujo was murdered in California on Oct. 3, 2002. Gwen had been living as a girl with the help of her mom. She was a very pretty girl who hoped to become a woman someday (including SRS). She was beaten to death, stomped and hung by a brutal bunch of young men, when they accidentally discovered that this pretty girl had male genitalia.
When the story of her murder broke, yep, you guessed it, the press initially called her a drag queen or a homosexual youth or a crossdresser. This enraged gay activists and the trans activists who knew better, and they got together and jumped all over them for that, and for calling her "him". Later articles began calling her a transgender girl. Here a photo Gwen's story. Her murderers are now on trial in California.