Deirdre McCloskey and Lynn Conway file a formal complaint
with the Vice-President of Research of Northwestern University
regarding the research conduct of J. Michael Bailey
July 29, 2003

Hard copy to follow

July 29, 2003

C. Bradley Moore, Vice President for Research
Office of the Vice President for Research
Northwestern University
Rebecca Crown Center, Room 2-223
633 Clark Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208-1108

Dear Dr. Moore:

We wish to make a formal, registered complaint against the practices of J. Michael Bailey in the "research" for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen. We would appreciate therefore official acknowledgment of receipt of this letter.

From what we can judge from a careful study of the book and from many discussions with some of the women involved, Professor Bailey has grossly violated the standards of science by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of study. He has mined the observations for slanted evidence in support of a classification theory he wished to prove, ignoring contrary evidence.

The resulting "scientific" claims in the book are so defamatory of gender variant people that they threaten the lives of many hundreds of thousands of gender crossers (and many millions of gay men: we here focus on the smaller group). The book is in particular an attack on our own persons and lives. For instance Professor Bailey diagnoses one of us, McCloskey, without having met her, as "autogynephilic," and labels "autogynephilia" a "disorder," evoking the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The book is bad science. As it was put to the attendees at the July 19, 2003 conference in Bloomington, Indiana of the International Academy of Sex Research by John Bancroft, director of the Kinsey Institute and one of the most respected sexologists in the world, "Michael, I would caution you against calling this book 'science' because I have read it, and I can tell you it is not science."

Strangely, Professor Bailey has recently claimed (on his website, not in the book) that he was writing merely a personal memoir of experience in the sexual underworld. The claim is in flat contradiction to the publicity for the book by the National Academy Press, as "cutting edge research" and the rhetoric of the book itself. Professor Bailey asserts in the title, throughout the book, and in the publicity for it that his book is "scientific." (We have evidence that he was personally involved in the publicity by the John Henry Press, an arm of the National Academy Press.)

We wonder what the explanation is for him abandoning the earlier claims that the book was based on "original research." Professor Bailey refers to his research on "homosexual transsexuals" on page 177, book, noting that the subjects were brought to him by "Cher" (Anjelica Kieltyka). He refers therefore to doing "research" involving precisely the women who have brought complaints to your office.

Professor Bailey does not mention that the women came to him for interviews as part of obtaining letters of approval for gender reassignment surgery. That is, he used his offer of GRS letters to gain access to the most intimate facts of their lives (often misreported in the book, by the way: Bailey has admitted for example to salting his prose with fictions). He has retailed the lives of private people without their foreknowledge or permission under cover of "research" and "science." He told none of the women that she was a research subject. Professor Bailey, surely, cannot have it both ways--- claiming the high moral ground of science while at the same time exempted from scientific standards of care in the handling of people's lives. Jerry Springer Meets John Bancroft is not a formula for science.

It may not be clear to everyone that Professor Bailey went well beyond a merely clerical error in neglecting to provide his human subjects with forms to sign. He did not tell the women what he was about. And he has trifled with their lives. The women involved are a vulnerable population (Professor Bailey has refused in his "research" to speak to middle-class gender crossers like ourselves, evidently because our lives would not fit his theory; or perhaps because we would not have been so easy to frighten into detailed "confessions" of the life-pattern Professor Bailey wished to detect.) The women are of course appalled and depressed by how Professor Bailey has used them. We hope you realize, for example, and share our dismay, that Professor Bailey enticed the women into his classrooms under the pretense of listening open-mindedly to their views. From various reports we believe he prepared the students to view the women on the contrary with contempt and closed minds, and afterwards evoked from the students the clichéd responses of homophobia and transphobia. Some indeed are reported in the book.

We believe that the three women we know who have recently filed charges against Professor Bailey are telling the sober truth. We are both very well acquainted with Ms. Kieltyka, and have both spoken for many hours with the woman called "Juanita" in the book. One of us has spoken at length with the other young woman---who, though used as a research subject in the same way as "Juanita," was dropped from Professor Bailey's "sample," apparently because she fits poorly into his theory. We believe that the reports by the women (including the parts we have been told of that have not been made public) are honest and credible.

The women have come forward now at considerable risk to themselves. They live anyway in "stealth," which is to say that their identities as transsexual women are not generally known. They fear that the hundreds of Northwestern undergraduates before whom they were paraded in the on-going freak shows in Professor Bailey's classes might recognize them. Professor Bailey has frightened one of them recently by repeated attempts to get hold of her, though he has been told she does not wish to speak to him. She has moved and changed her phone number.

Professor Bailey is quoted as portraying us as activists with an ax to grind "censoring" his writings (Chicago Tribune, July 29; he does not seem to grasp the difference between state censorship on the one hand and scientific and political disagreement on the other). We wish to make clear that as astonishing as Professor Bailey's mistreatment of his human subjects has been, in any case his "science" is in our opinion nonsense. To these scientific criticisms---less relevant to your deliberations than his misuse of human subjects, we realize---he has offered no replies, neither to us nor to his professional colleagues in sexology.

Professor Bailey's book claims to be the latest science on transsexualism. It is not, and reveals in numberless ways his willful ignorance of the phenomenon. He is for example not a member of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, the major professional association of scientists actively involved in the field. He has read little. He has ignored the range of transgendered experience-available for example a few blocks from his office in the person of Randi Ettner, the world's leading clinical psychologist specializing in the field (he does not appear to have read her book Gender Loving Care). The grossly stigmatizing design of the book's cover is typical of Professor Bailey's approach to "science."

The reputation of a great university has been put in jeopardy by Professor Bailey's use of its name and by his violations of its research safeguards. We are sure that Northwestern will treat our charges and those of the others more directly involved with the greatest care and consideration---care that Professor Bailey has so signally failed to exercise.



Deirdre McCloskey

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


Lynn Conway

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


cc. Henry Bienen, President
Lawrence B. Dumas, Provost


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