Science Subverted: How a scientific journal became a propaganda tool in the "science war" against the social emergence of transgender women


A report by Lynn Conway

August 21, 2007

[V 9-20-07]





Ken Zucker, editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (ASB), recently subverted that scientific journal into a propaganda tool to support his colleagues and fellow ASB editorial board members Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence against widespread complaints and blogging by the transgender community.


In a series of highly prejudicial and scientifically unethical actions, Zucker and his editorial board published their colleague Alice Dreger's absurdly one-sided history of the Bailey book fiasco in the journal that they themselves control - thus launching yet another campaign in their collective war on the identities and lives of transgender women.


With the help of science journalist and ardent Bailey promoter Benedict Carey, this cabal then fooled Carey's New York Times Science Editors into believing that Dreger's one-sided history was an independent and 'scholarly' one - enabling Carey to publish a Times article (see below) claiming that Bailey had been terribly wronged by the trans community and that he has been exonerated of all charges of misconduct.


This abuse of establishment scientific institutions to cover-up past misdeeds will work against Bailey, Blanchard, Lawrence and Zucker in the end - both in the court of public opinion and in the eyes of history.  Zucker in particular is now exposed as conducting his own personal vendetta against Andrea James and Lynn Conway, two women who've been actively exposing Zucker's reparatist treatment of gender variant children (more). 


For more about Zucker's and Dreger's role in these events, see Lynn Conway's letter (below) to the Times' editors of August 19, 2007. Watch this page to follow further developments, and also see the Log of Breaking News and Timeline of Events in the Bailey investigation pages.




Lynn's letter to the editors, alerting them to Zucker's role in orchestrating these events, 8-19-07

Carey's NY Times article, claiming that Dreger's history has exonerated Bailey, 8-21-07

List of obvious errors in the Times article



Recommended Reading:

Joan Roughgarden, "The Bailey Affair: Psychology Perverted", February 11, 2004.

Andea James, "A defining moment in our history - Examining disease models of gender identity", Seprtember, 2004.

Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Seal Press, 2007.



Lynn Conway's letter to the New York Times science editors,

alerting them to Zucker's role in these events:



August 19, 2007


Ms. Laura Chang and Ms. Erica Goode

Science Editors

The New York Times

New York, NY


Dear Ms. Chang and Ms. Goode:

I have just returned from vacation to learn that Benedict Carey is publishing an article this Tuesday in the New York Times about Alice Dreger's report on one of several "controversies" created by J. Michael Bailey. This is a distraction from the crux of the issue at hand:

- Bailey's 2003 book is about "curing" gender-variant children.
- The "cure" is based on a reparative therapy devised by Kenneth Zucker.
- Kenneth Zucker is editor-in-chief of Archives of Sexual Behavior (ASB).
- The key figures in this "controversy" are all on the ASB editorial board [see note 1].
- Dreger's paper is being published in Zucker’s ASB.

Dreger’s one-sided report is thus simply the latest attempt by someone within the ASB clique to silence and discredit those working to stop Zucker's pathological science and reparative therapy against children [see note 2].

One would hope that any New York Times article would reflect that reality, but I am not confident of that – given my observations and critique of Carey's reporting on Bailey's bisexual "controversy" in 2005 [see note 3].


Please confirm your receipt of this letter and the attached notes, for the historical record.


Lynn Conway


Ms. Lynn Conway
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
3640 CSE Building

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Member, National Academy of Engineering





Notes for the Conway Letter of 8-19-07:


[Note 1]


Zucker has packed the ASB editorial board with like-minded cronies, and this small but vocal clique controls ASB publications in the field of sexology – especially regarding gender variance – to the extent that dissenting sexologists send me tips anonymously for fear of retribution.

Editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior
Kenneth J. Zucker, Clarke Institute (now known as CAMH, Clarke Division)

Managing Editor:
Allison Owen-Anderson, Clarke Institute

Editorial Board:
Ray Blanchard, Clarke Institute
Anthony F. Bogaert, Clarke Institute
James M. Cantor, Clarke Institute
Meredith L. Chivers, Clarke Institute
Michael C. Seto, Clarke Institute
J. Michael Bailey, Northwestern University
Khytam Dawood, University of Chicago (former Bailey student and Bailey supporter)
Anne A. Lawrence, only Board member unaffiliated with an institution|editorialBoard


[Note 2]


Following are the title and URL of the page I created to expose Zucker’s reparatist treatment of gender-variant children at his gender clinic at the former Clarke Institute (now known as CAMH, Clarke Division) in Toronto, Canada:

“A 2001 Magazine Article Revisited in 2007: “Drop the Barbie! If You Bend Gender Far Enough, Does It Break?””,, April 5, 2007.

[Note 3]


Following are the title and URL for the page I created to document the widespread response of the bisexual community to Carey’s 2005 article (the article about Bailey’s claim that male bisexuality does not exist):


“J. Michael Bailey attacks the identities of yet another sexual minority group: He claims that the plethysmograph proves bisexual men are "lying", and that most are just gay men after all”,, 7-06-05.




The New York Times


Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege


Published: August 21, 2007


Sally Ryan for The New York Times

J. Michael Bailey’s book about gender

enraged some transgender women.

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

AliceDreger, an ethics scholar,

investigated the accusations against

Dr. Bailey.


In academic feuds, as in war, there is no telling how far people will go once the shooting starts.

Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory.

The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

To many of Dr. Bailey’s peers, his story is a morality play about the corrosive effects of political correctness on academic freedom. Some scientists say that it has become increasingly treacherous to discuss politically sensitive issues. They point to several recent cases, like that of Helmuth Nyborg, a Danish researcher who was fired in 2006 after he caused a furor in the press by reporting a slight difference in average I.Q. test scores between the sexes.

“What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field,” said Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar and patients’ rights advocate at Northwestern who, after conducting a lengthy investigation of Dr. Bailey’s actions, has concluded that he is essentially blameless. “If we’re going to have research at all, then we’re going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we’ve got problems not only for science but free expression itself.”

To Dr. Bailey’s critics, his story is a different kind of morality tale.

“Nothing we have done, I believe, and certainly nothing I have done, overstepped any boundaries of fair comment on a book and an author who stepped into the public arena with enthusiasm to deliver a false and unscientific and politically damaging opinion,” Deirdre McCloskey, a professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of Dr. Bailey’s principal critics, said in an e-mail message.

The hostilities began in the spring of 2003, when Dr. Bailey published a book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” intended to explain the biology of sexual orientation and gender to a general audience.

“The next two years,” Dr. Bailey said in an interview, “were the hardest of my life.”

Many sex researchers who have worked with Dr. Bailey say that he is a solid scientist and collaborator, who by his own admission enjoys violating intellectual taboos.

In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake — in essence, women trapped in men’s bodies. Dr. Bailey described the alternate theory, which is based on Canadian studies done in the 1980s and 1990s, in part by telling the stories of several transgender women he met through a mutual acquaintance. In the book, he gave them pseudonyms, like “Alma” and “Juanita.”

Other scientists praised the book as a compelling explanation of the science. The Lambda Literary Foundation, an organization that promotes gay, bisexual and transgender literature, nominated the book for an award.

But days after the book appeared, Lynn Conway, a prominent computer scientist at the University of Michigan, sent out an e-mail message comparing Dr. Bailey’s views to Nazi propaganda. She and other transgender women found the tone of the book abusive, and the theory of motivation it presented to be a recipe for further discrimination.

Dr. Conway did not respond to requests for an interview.

Dr. Ben Barres, a neurobiologist at Stanford, said in reference to Dr. Bailey’s thesis in the book, “Bailey seems to make a living by claiming that the things people hold most deeply true are not true.”

At a public meeting of sex researchers shortly after the book’s publication, Dr. John Bancroft, then director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, said to Dr. Bailey, “Michael, I have read your book, and I do not think it is science,” according to accounts of the meeting. Dr. Bancroft confirmed the comment.

The backlash soon turned from the book to its author.

After consulting with Dr. Conway, four of the transgender women who spoke to Dr. Bailey during his reporting for the book wrote letters to Northwestern, complaining that they had been used as research subjects without having given, or been asked to sign, written consent.

Roosevelt University

Deirdre McCloskey called opposition to

Dr. Bailey’s theory “fair comment.”


One wrote a letter making another accusation against Dr. Bailey: she claimed he had had sex with her.

Dr. Conway and Dr. McCloskey also wrote letters to Northwestern, accusing Dr. Bailey of grossly violating scientific standards “by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of the study.”

They also wrote to the Illinois state regulators, requesting that they investigate Dr. Bailey for practicing psychology without a license. Dr. Bailey, who was not licensed to practice clinical psychology in Illinois, had provided some of those who helped him with the book with brief case evaluation letters, suggesting that they were good candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. A spokesman for the state said that regulators took no action on the complaints.

In an interview, Dr. Bailey said that nothing he did was wrong or unethical. “I interviewed people for a book,” he said. “This is a free society, and that should be allowed.”

But by the end of 2003, the controversy had a life of its own on the Internet. Dr. Conway, the computer scientist, kept a running chronicle of the accusations against Dr. Bailey on her Web site. Any Google search of Dr. Bailey’s name brought up Dr. Conway’s site near the top of the list.

The site also included a link to the Web page of another critic of Dr. Bailey’s book, Andrea James, a Los Angeles-based transgender advocate and consultant. Ms. James downloaded images from Dr. Bailey’s Web site of his children, taken when they were in middle and elementary school, and posted them on her own site, with sexually explicit captions that she provided. (Dr. Bailey is a divorced father of two.) Ms. James said in an e-mail message that Dr. Bailey’s work exploited vulnerable people, especially children, and that her response echoed his disrespect.

Dr. Dreger is the latest to arrive at the battlefront. She is a longtime advocate for people born with ambiguous sexuality and has been strongly critical of sex researchers in the past. She said she had presumed that Dr. Bailey was guilty and, after meeting him through a mutual friend, had decided to investigate for herself.

But in her just-completed account, due to be published next year in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the field’s premier journal, she concluded that the accusations against the psychologist were essentially groundless.

For example, Dr. Dreger found that two of the four women who complained to Northwestern of research violations were not portrayed in the book at all. The two others did know their stories would be used, as they themselves said in their letters to Northwestern.

The accusation of sexual misconduct came five years after the fact, and was not possible to refute or confirm, Dr. Dreger said. It specified a date in 1998 when Dr. Bailey was at his ex-wife’s house, looking after their children, according to dated e-mail messages between the psychologist and his ex-wife, Dr. Dreger found.

The transgender woman who made the complaint said through a friend that she stood by the accusation but did not want to talk about it.

Moreover, based on her own reading of federal regulations, Dr. Dreger, whose report can be viewed at, argued that the book did not qualify as scientific research. The federal definition describes “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation.”

Dr. Bailey used the people in his book as anecdotes, not as the subjects of a systematic investigation, she reported.

“The bottom line is that they tried to ruin this guy, and they almost succeeded,” Dr. Dreger said.

Dr. Dreger’s report began to circulate online last week, and Dr. Bailey’s critics already have attacked it as being biased.

For their part, Northwestern University administrators began an investigation of Dr. Bailey’s research in later 2003 (there is no evidence that they investigated the sex complaint).

The inquiry, which lasted almost a year, brought research to a near standstill in Dr. Bailey’s laboratory, and clouded his name among some other researchers, according to people who worked with the psychologist.

“That was the worst blow of all, that we didn’t get much support” from Northwestern, said Gerulf Rieger, a graduate student of Dr. Bailey’s at the time, and now a lecturer at Northwestern. “They were quite scared and not very professional, I thought.”

A spokesman for the university declined to comment on the investigation, which concluded in 2004.

One collaborator broke with Dr. Bailey over the controversy, Dr. Bailey said. Others who remained loyal said doing so had a cost: two researchers said they were advised by a government grant officer that they should distance themselves from Dr. Bailey to improve their chances of receiving financing.

“He told me it would be better if I played down any association with Bailey,” said Khytam Dawood, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Bailey said that the first weeks of the backlash were the worst. He tried not to think about the accusations, he said, but would wake up in the middle of the night unable to think of anything else. He took anti-anxiety pills for a while. He began to worry about losing his job. He said that friends and family supported him but that some colleagues were afraid to speak up in his defense.

“They saw what I was going through, I think, and wanted no part of it,” he said.

The fog of war, which can overwhelm the senses of real soldiers, can also descend on academic feuds, and it seems to have done so on this one.

In October 2004, Dr. Bailey stepped down as chairman of the psychology department. He declined to say why, and a spokesman for Northwestern would say only that the change in status had nothing to do with the book.

These unknowns seem if anything to have extended the life of the controversy, which still simmers online.

“I think for me, for the work I do, honestly, I don’t really care what his theories are,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, of Dr. Bailey. “But I do want to feel like any theories that affect the lives of so many people are based in good science, and that they’re presented responsibly.”

But that, say supporters of Dr. Bailey, is precisely the problem: Who defines responsible? And at what cost is that definition violated?

It is perhaps fitting that the history of this conflict, which caught fire online, is being written and revised continually in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is compiled and corrected by users. The reference site provides a lengthy entry on Dr. Bailey, but a section titled “Research Misconduct,” which posts some of the accusations Dr. Dreger reviewed, includes a prominent warning.

It reads: “The neutrality of this section is disputed.”


List of obvious errors in the Times article:


- - - TBD - - -



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