The Chronicle of Higher Education
Today's News
Friday, December 12, 2003
Northwestern U. Psychologist Is Accused of
Having Sex With Research Subject

A transsexual woman who is described in a book by J. Michael Bailey, chairman of the psychology department at Northwestern University, says the professor had sex with her while she was a subject of his research. The woman also says that Mr. Bailey, as a psychologist, supplied her with a letter she needed from a professional supporting her desire for sex-change surgery.

Mr. Bailey has declined to comment on the accusations.

His book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, was published this year by the National Academies Press. The transsexual woman filed an anonymous complaint against Mr. Bailey with Northwestern in July.

The complaint, a copy of which was provided to The Chronicle on Thursday, says that Mr. Bailey gave the woman a letter supporting her "sex-reassignment surgery" in 1996. She had the surgery in January 1997, was a guest speaker in one of Mr. Bailey's undergraduate classes the next month, and had sex with him at her apartment a year later, on March 22, 1998, the complaint indicates. She says she had been socializing that night with Mr. Bailey at a Chicago nightclub.

"I would not have participated in the lecture or had anything to do with Dr. Bailey if I was aware of his hypocritical deception in obtaining any and all information about [transsexuals] that turned into research for his most maligning book," the woman wrote in her complaint to Northwestern. She is also among six transsexual women who have filed complaints with the university, saying that the professor did not tell them that they were subjects of his research and did not get their consent as participants.

Three other transsexual women, including Lynn Conway, a professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Deirdre N. McCloskey, a distinguished professor of the liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, are acting as representatives of the woman and released her complaint to The Chronicle. They say that while Northwestern has agreed to investigate complaints that Mr. Bailey did not get informed consent, it has refused to look into charges that he is guilty of sexual misconduct with a research subject.

Alan K. Cubbage, a Northwestern spokesman, said the university "is responding to the issues raised in complaints using its established procedures and policies," but he would not comment on the specific accusations. "We're not going to get into details," he said, "on where the university is on each issue."

Randi Ettner, a clinical psychologist who serves on the board of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, said that if Mr. Bailey did have sex with the woman, his behavior was "not just unethical, but unconscionable." Ms. Ettner said that the American Psychological Association "has very strict rules that psychologists are not allowed to enter into any outside relationships with clients."


Copyright © 2003 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


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"