- National Transgender Advocacy
- Press Release about J.Michael
- June 21, 2003
- For more information about this controversy, see
press release is also on the NTAC website.
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- Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 08:59:52 -0400
RELEASE: CONTROVERSY ERUPTS OVER GAY AND TRANSSEXUAL BOOK, NTAC
URGES NAS REVIEW, INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
- For Immediate Release: June 21, 2003
- From: The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC)
- Contacts: Media Director, Robyn Walters, Seattle, Washington
- NTAC Chair, Vanessa Edwards Foster; Houston, Texas
- Contact Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Phone: 832-483-9901, 360-437-4091
- Website: http://www.ntac.org
CONTROVERSY ERUPTS OVER GAY AND TRANSSEXUAL
- NTAC URGES NAS REVIEW, INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
The gloves have come off, and a scientific brouhaha has developed
over J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would be Queen,
published by Joseph Henry Press, imprint for the National Academies,
including the National Academy of Science. Respected members
of the medical and scientific world as well as transgender activists
have decried as worse than junk science a publication that is
long on intuition and devoid of original research data.
Such well known and respected transsexual women as Professor
Lynn Conway, University of Michigan; Professor Joan Roughgarden;
Stanford University Biology Department, Dr. Becky Allison, MD;
and Christine Burns, Vice President of Britain's Press for Change
organization, decry the simplistic Blanchard theory posited as
truth by Bailey based largely on his observations of transsexual
prostitutes and others who frequent gay bars in Chicago. They
have expressed concern over the treatment transsexuals could
expect if the Blanchard-Bailey position were taught as fact.
Conway, Roughgarden and Burns have called on the National Academy
of Science to investigate Bailey's work and to remove the book
from under the imprimatur of the national Academies.
The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) supports this
action and calls for independent research into other potential
transsexual taxonomies. Many educated, intelligent, and successful
transsexuals disagree that "two sizes fit all" The
categories of homosexual and autogynephile do not capture these
individuals' experience and ignore their self-description and
understanding. Bailey's limited definitions turn all other opinions
into "self-deception," which strains credulity.
Even Anjelica Kieltyka, portrayed as "Cher," a major
character in Bailey's chapters on autogynephilia has disavowed
Bailey and Blanchard's all-inclusive categorizations. She has
been quoted as writing, "It is most unfortunate that he
[Bailey] used me and my case history as the 'poster child for
autogynephilia'... using all of my case study (under the pseudonym
of "Cher") to support his chapters on "autogynephiliacs."
Unfortunate because here was an opportunity to break away from,
rather then [sic] give further support to a dead 'Freudian' mixture
of onanism, narcissism and paraphilic transvestite fetishism.
I refused to join this bandwagon of Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence,
to which I would also add Zucker and Bradley of the Clarke Institute."
In a May 3, 2003 letter to the presidents of the National Academy
of Science and the National Institute of Medicine, Dr. Joan Roughgarden,
Stanford University Professor of Population Biology, states the
following: "Many are claiming that the Academy has become
complicit in publishing junk science... The situation is actually
worse however. Junk science at least goes through the motions
of science. Junk-science books include references, footnotes,
data tables, and statistics to create the semblance of science.
Only by tracking down the references can junk science be refuted.
Bailey, on the other hand, has written a thin book without references,
a book that nonetheless makes exceptionally broad and dubious
claims in the name of science, and draws legitimacy from appearing
under the Academy's imprint and on the Academy's website. The
situation is remarkable. There's nothing in Bailey's book to
refute other than hot air - no data tables, no statistics, no
knowledge of the principles of classification, no experiments,
no controls, no out-groups, nothing."
Three primary reasons for the opposition of successful transsexual
scientists and educators to Bailey's book include a near complete
lack of research details or reference; the apparent omission
of transsexuals from other than the gay bar, sex worker, and
erotic sex scenes; and the insistence that those transsexuals
who strongly disavow being homosexual or autogynephilic are simply
in a state of self-deception or are lying. In placing all MTF
transsexuals in one of two narrowly defined categories that don't
match the reported feelings of many transsexuals, Bailey is deemed
guilty of faulty research, faulty conclusions, sensationalism,
and perhaps, of promoting a homophobic and transphobic approach
to treatment. Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence contend that transsexuals
coming from a heterosexual life who deny eroticism as the primary
reason for their transition are not being truthful. Since they
consider the feelings of such transsexuals to be false by presumption,
then all such transsexuals must be autogynephilic. QED. No need
for further research.
Bailey, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Northwestern
University, contends that early onset MTFs "those who have
known since childhood that they are "women trapped in a
man's body" are extremely feminine homosexual men. He identifies
only one other classification of MTF transsexuals: autogynephilics.
These, he contends, are men who are so erotically obsessed with
the image of themselves as women that they live as women, undergoing
sex reassignment surgery, if possible. Thus, Bailey reiterates
the 20 year-old conclusions of Ray Blanchard at the Clarke Institute
in Toronto, who first developed the model of autogynephilia to
explain transsexuals who transition later in life, often following
a long-term and successful male role. Blanchard's theory on autogynephilia
and his categorization of only two types of transsexual received
little lasting notice until resurrected by several articles written
by Dr. Anne Lawrence, MD and PhD, of Seattle a few years ago.
On page 146 of his book, Bailey writes, "The two types of
transsexuals who begin life as males are called homosexual and
autogynephilic. Once understood, these names are appropriate.
Succinctly put, homosexual male-to-female transsexuals are extremely
feminine gay men, and autogynephilic transsexuals are men erotically
obsessed with the image of themselves as women."
In a recent note to an autogynephilia discussion list, however,
Bailey said, "I have never written that transsexuals who
transition from men to women are still men. Nor has Ray Blanchard.
Nor has Anne Lawrence. The phrase "men trapped in men's
bodies," which applies to autogynephilic transsexuals, means
simply that they are not naturally feminine in the way that homosexual
m-f transsexuals are. It doesn't mean that they do not achieve
femininity, and regardless of how feminine they are, once they
decide to become women and enter that role (regardless of genital
status), they are women, in my opinion."
Bailey posits that transsexuals who lived in the role of straight
men suffer from sexual aberrations (paraphilias) rather than
from the more commonly accepted mismatch between body and the
brain's gender identity. Bailey, Blanchard, and Lawrence seem
to discount the role of gender in Gender Identity Disorder (GID),
assigning the role instead to either homosexuality or sexual
obsession. Bailey states (page 176), "With luck, the next
revision of the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental
Disorders] will distinguish "homosexual" from "autogynephilic"
transsexualism." Outspoken critics hope not. A Pacific Northwest
gender counselor and a post-operative medical doctor recently
stated in private-words to the effect that this bad idea will
die off as it deserves to do if we just don't make a big deal
Dr. Ben Barres, MD, PhD, professor of Neurobiology and Developmental
Biology at Stanford University and a female to male transsexual
puts it this way. "Bailey truly doesn't get the gender identity
dissonance that transsexuals experience -- it really is hard
for people to understand what they haven't experienced themselves.
I have talked with many MtFs who have contacted me and have listened
to the feelings they have gone through their whole lives and
it is always an exact mirror of what I have experienced as an
FtM. These MtFs have no reason to lie to me, as I have no power
over what treatment they receive. For Bailey to say that most
MtFs are primarily doing the gender change because of a fetish
rather than a true gender identity issue just doesn't ring true
to me or to many other people that have worked in clinics taking
care of many MtFs."
The danger of teaching incomplete results as fact can be seen
in Bailey's own comments (page 206). "They [my undergraduate
students] are especially hesitant to support [sex reassignment]
surgery for nonhomosexual transsexuals, once they learn about
autogynephilia. "When I press them, they say something like
the following: "But they don't have the wrong body; they
are mentally ill."" Bailey notes that Paul McHugh,
then Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins
used a version of that argument to close the John Hopkins gender
identity clinic many years ago.
Thus, Bailey seems to realize that -- despite his avowed support
of transsexuals and of gay men -- he is developing a generation
of potential gender counselors, legislators, and doctors who
will see sex reassignment as a bad solution to a sexual aberration
rather than as an effective "cure" for matching body
and the brain's gender identity.
Dr. Sarah Fox, who attended graduate school with Bailey at the
University of Texas and was briefly a teaching assistant under
one of Bailey's most influential professors says that Bailey's
apparent lack of concern comes as little surprise to her. Says
Fox, "[The professor under whom she and Bailey studied]
was a noted authority on supposed intelligence differences between
the races and sexes. Irrespective of whether such differences
may exist, I was very uncomfortable with how his teachings might
be used and/or abused by those with social and political agendas.
I discussed my apprehensions with him on at least two occasions.
He stood firm that a scientist's job is to do the research and
that it is up to others to sort out the ramifications. Bailey
seems like a chip off the old block."
In her opinion concerning Bailey's book, Dr. Julie Maverick,
NTAC Vice-Chair, said, "This book is supported chiefly through
"proof by blatant assertion." The lack of scholarship
and unwillingness to discuss opposing views strongly diminishes
the scientific credibility of this book immediately. I rather
doubt it would have passed rigorous peer review." Dr. Maverick
noted, for example, the lack of credence afforded by Prof. Bailey
to valid, peer-reviewed papers published in the 1990s that showed
gay men and male-to-female transsexuals to have different brain
chemistries and structures from each other (e.g., Zhou, et al.,
1995, Nature). Those studies showed that the brain chemistry
and structure of the transsexuals studied were much more like
those of women than those of gay men. Dr. Maverick also noted
that studies of intersex biology and behavior clearly demonstrate
a wide range of physiological and psychological conditions within
a transgender framework that do not fit the Prof. Bailey's scheme.
Dr. Robyn Walters, NTAC Media Director notes that, following
a half dozen or more email exchanges in recent weeks on an international
autogynephilia news list that counts Anne Lawrence and Michael
Bailey as members, she has yet to receive an answer to the question
of why many supporters of Blanchard's theory and Bailey's book
are adamantly opposed to even the possibility that there could
be another theory. A more comprehensive theory might include
gender identity as well as autogynephilia and homosexuality as
special cases. This would be akin to the General Theory of Relativity
including the Special Theory of Relativity. "Responses to
this line of questioning have merely repeated the mantra that
there are only two types of MTF transsexual and that those who
consider other explanations are self-deceptive liars," Walters
reported. "Relying solely on an unproven presumption of
massive self-deception does not appear to be good science."
NTAC considers the National Academies' imprimatur assigned this
book to be misplaced and ultimately harmful. Reliance on Bailey's
work will likely hurt our community in terms of health care and
in terms of legal, medical, and societal acceptance. NTAC considers
that questionable science -- potentially incomplete science --
cannot remain unchallenged and must not alone form the basis
on which future generations of transsexuals will be judged and
- Therefore, NTAC urges the National Academies to review the
research credibility behind The Man Who Would Be Queen.
In addition, NTAC urges the National Academies and such organizations
as the Gill Foundation, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,
Rikki Swinn Institute, Human Rights Campaign, and others to join
forces in organizing and funding an independent study to analyze
and categorize transsexuals who disavow a history of homosexuality
and who disavow eroticism as the reason for making their bodies
anatomically congruent with their sense of gender identity. The
results of such a study, coupled with the theory of Ray Blanchard
and the anecdotes of Michael Bailey, could well lead to a "Unified
Theory of Transsexualism" and better represent and serve
the diversity of our community.
Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National
Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a 501(c)(4) civil rights
organization working to establish and maintain the right of all
transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live
and work without fear of violence or discrimination.-
- This page hosted by Lynn Conway