Reviews of Bailey's book:

by Lynn Conway

Copyright @ 2003-2007 by Lynn Conway, All rights reserved


Representative reviews:

1. "Weird Science: J. Michael Bailey's “The Man Who Would Be Queen”", by Kim McNabb
Originally published July 23, 2003, in the Chicago Free Press.

2. "Bailey as tranny chaser", posted by skylark at January 7, 2004.

3. "Very well written", Reviewer: Karen Anderson
Originally published on, April 6, 2004

4. "No Original Research",  Reviewer: Prof. Bruce Frier from Ann Arbor, MI
Originally published on, May 14, 2004

5. ""Entertainment" Freak Show", Reviewer: Bambi Blanchard , Baraboo, Wisconsin
Originally published on, June 6, 2005


See also the compilations of reviews at these pages:

Early reviews and comments by transwomen and transmen 

More reviews of Bailey's book




Representative reviews

1, 2, 3, 4, 5



1. Right from the start, Bailey's book got slammed in reviews in GBLT media:



Weird Science:

 J. Michael Bailey's “The Man Who Would Be Queen”
By Kim McNabb

Originally published July 23, 2003, in the Chicago Free Press.

"It's a shame trees had to be sacrificed in order to print J. Michael Bailey's controversial new book “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.”

Bailey takes a perfectly interesting and reasonable question-what is the relationship between childhood femininity in boys and gay men, and transgenderism — and succeeds only in writing a bunch of speculative and insulting nonsense.


Don't be fooled by the “science” in the title: There is very little science in this book. It's not science calling up a two decades-old research study and declaring it the truth for all time. It's not science without documentation — there are no footnotes, no references listed and no bibliography.


It's not science sitting at a bar in Chicago's gay neighborhood of Boystown talking to gay men and transgenders about their childhoods. It's not science when someone answers your questions and you don't like the answers or don't believe them, so you dismiss the insight as lies, or internalized “femiphobia.”

It's not science when you write pages about what “perfect” studies would need to be conducted to prove your wanted findings, and then write that, of course, these studies could never be done because of their length and complexity.


It's not science to simply quote small studies and surveys with no context. It's not science taking an 8-year-old boy's cross-dressing issue and basing an entire book on the question of what he may or may not become later in life. And it's not science or scholarship to praise your son's ability to spot gay men on the street. It's not science to base your knowledge of transgender and gay lives on what they say they are seeking in personal ads.


This book is not science. A discussion of ideas, yes. One straight man's look into an unfamiliar world, yes. Science, absolutely not.


Bailey's thesis is that there is a connection between femininity in boys and gay men and the desire to change gender. In investigating this he takes a long detour through covering gay masculinity and femininity, stereotypes of gay men and whether gay men are actually more like straight men or women.


Then he declares there are exactly two types of transgenders: homosexual and autogynephile. The former are men who want to change gender because they identify as women and the latter are men who are erotically charged by switching gender. In his limited exploration, Bailey paints an ugly picture of transgenders' alleged sexual perversity, confusion and relationships. And he makes no effort to consider transgenders who carry on “normal” jobs, friendships, sexual desires, lives, etc.


While the argument Bailey makes is pretty bad, the writing and organization of the book aren't much better. He never adequately connects the several different strands he's weaving into a cohesive whole theory. And his personal anecdotes are annoying, not to mention credibility-busting.


This book is not worth reading, even for the controversy. You'd learn a lot more reaching out to someone in the trans community and having a friendly and honest discussion with them about their lives than reading this ridiculous concoction of speculation...


Wisely and appropriately, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition has called for the National Academy of Science to investigate the book and remove it from under its banner."


The Chicago Free Press is the midwest's leading gay newspaper.

See also the Free Press article by Paul Varnell, who exposes "BAILEY ON GAY FEMININITY"




2. As time went on, and more revelations of Bailey's amoral behavior came out, Mr. Bailey was revealed for what he is:


bailey as tranny chaser

Posted by skylark at January 7, 2004 04:07 PM

by now you've probably heard about the charge that j. michael bailey (author of the man who would be queen, one of the most egregious pieces of crap ever foisted off as a scholarly study of transsexualism) had sex with at least one of his research subjects.

personally, i think the real meaning of this hasn't been openly discussed, and i couldn't really care less about the presumed breach of "professional ethics" that is going to be the main line taken up against him.

for me, what the charge really does is reinforce my view of bailey's utter contempt for his subjects, and cast the relationship between him and them starkly in terms of sex and power.

i think bailey has a thing for trannies, and used his book as a way to assert power over them, to make his sexual desire for them somehow internally acceptable according to the old rules of machismo. he really does believe that transwomen are just a kind of man, but by effectively kicking their knees out from under them and making them bend over, he establishes a social and sexual dominance which protects his hetero-masculinity.

by reducing the transsexual experience and identity to a paraphilia, he reduces transsexuals themselves to sexual objects. he also super-exoticizes these objects, heightening and sustaining their desirability. in short, he uses his authority as a "scientist" to strip his subjects both figuratively and literally, satisfying both ego and libido with the objectified bodies of what i can only call his victims.

i hope that as things proceed, it becomes only more blatantly obvious just where the true pathology lies.



3. With the further passage of time, people began taking the book itself even less seriously,

and began increasingly ridiculing it for its now all-too-obvious absurdity:


Very well written


Reviewer: Karen Anderson from Houston, TX

Originally published on, April 6, 2004


"(...)[If] we focus on his writing capacity, intent, and effectiveness of this work, we see that it is indeed one of the more influential and effective books of 2003, and the timing of the publication is right on target.

The purpose of the book is to show, to the wide general public, that gays and transsexuals have predictable characteristics and immoral behavior. It is very important that we show that they are inherently different so that present legislation in the USA can proceed as scheduled.

He accomplishes this task remarkably well. When discussing gays, he mentions several scientific reports and states his opinion as fact. Since the reports themselves may contradict his thesis, he rightfully omits the citations so as to prevent opposition. His story revolves around Danny, an effeminate boy that does not grow up to be transsexual, but gay. He believes that effeminate boys need not be transsexual, so this is a great example. He later admitted that Danny is not a real person but a character that he made up. Since he did invent Danny, he can prove whatever point he wishes. A true scientist would be encumbered by events beyond his control. By creating his study subjects, Bailey is free from such hindrances and can more effectively prove his point.

Regarding transsexuals, he starts with his conclusions and therefore again is free from contradictions. Most readers have major issues with his conclusions--that transsexual women are either effeminate gay men or fetshistic transvestites (or are lying), and condemn his book because of that. But that is not the point. The point is that he effectively proves his point not by science but by insistence. For his "study," he mainly chose prostitutes and from that, correctly concluded that most of the transsexuals in his study were prostitutes. This is an ingenious method of proving one's point via a study.

He continues to degrade and insinuate many vary bad things about transsexuals, all with immunity from contradictions that would come from an unbiased study. Indeed, although the book is touted as "science," it clearly is not, at least not to other scientists. They would label it as Pseudoscience. But the book is not designed for scientists but for the broadest general public. To them, it is science, and is full of negative stereotypes against gays and transsexuals. The book was meant to convince a large audience that these people are morally inferior and it does this very effectively. It is well-written propaganda, on par with 1930's German writings regarding Semitism. Because of that, I praise the book and award it high marks.

The timing of the book is perfect. It was released in 2003, and now in 2004, US citizens and lawmakers are being asked to legalize discrimination against these minorities. With Bailey's writings fresh in their minds, it should be easy to subjugate these groups."



4. In the end, the publication of Bailey's hateful pseudoscience as if it were "scientific fact" only served to bring shame upon not only the author, but also upon the National Academies and the entire field of academic psychology:



No Original Research

Reviewer: Prof. Bruce Frier from Ann Arbor, MI

Originally published on, May 14, 2004

This book is pretty awful by anyone's standards: voyeuristic in the extreme, with little in the way of actual research or bibliography, and with a theoretical framework largely dependent on Ray Blanchard's discredited ideas. The aim of Bailey's book is to propound the notion that all male-to-female transsexuals can be placed into two groups: either "homosexual transsexuals" who are "extremely feminine gay men," or "autogynephiliacs," men with an auto-erotic fascination with the female body or female clothing or both. To put it bluntly, there is no clinical basis for this grouping, which grossly oversimplifies reality. The actual book, however, is largely an exercise in applying this theory through (excruciatingly described) excursions to gay bars. I cannot honestly say that I have ever read a worse book on human sexuality.

What makes Bailey's book really outrageous is that it comes with the imprimatur of the National Academies, a major scholarly organization. How could this have happened? Why is it that psychologists can still get away with publishing such books?



5.  In the process, it raised deeper and more disturbing questions about what kind of person would write such a book, and about the academic and scientific institutions that so strongly supported his work:



"Entertainment" Freak Show


Reviewer: Bambi Blanchard "Bam-Bam", Baraboo, Wisconsin

Originally published on, June 6, 2005


I read this book and it brought back eerie memories of my childhood in the Wisconsin Dells years ago. I felt like my grandma sat me down in the audience of one of those old-fashioned circus freak shows on a Sunday afternoon to watch as the "ringmaster" paraded the "freaks" across the stage for the "entertainment" of the crowd. I actually remember looking into the eyes of a bearded woman once as we were ogling her ... she was just blank, like her humanity had just been taken from her. About a year later, the woman actually committed suicide by throwing herself into the Dells. And the town wondered why. I'll never forget how low people can actually go to try and "entertain" in their otherwise desperately boring lives.

I thought they outlawed those kind of crimes against humanity years ago considering the harm and anguish it caused human beings to live a life as side-show "freaks." I guess you're still allowed to do the same sort of circus act if you are an "academic" ringmaster who romps through seedy bars intentionally collecting freaky "data" and presents it to the world in an attempt to mystify and entertain the masses (not to mention to get tenure). The only problem is that all innocent transsexual, gay and bisexual people are turned into "freaks" and stripped of their humanity in the process. No one deserves that, especially not vulnerable people who are just trying to get by in this intolerant society of ours. I just wish whoever wrote this book could have seen the bearded lady's eyes that day. I wish the whole world could. We might think twice about "entertaining" ourselves at the expense of others' lives.





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