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Trans Group Attacks New Book on 'Queens'
2003-06-25

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The gloves have come off, and a scientific brouhaha has developed over Northwestern University Prof. J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would be Queen (Joseph Henry Press, imprint for the National Academies). 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, including Circuit bar.

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, they state. Bailey's definitions turn all other opinions into 'self-deception,' which strains credulity, opponents said.

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 Web site. 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 ... .'

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.

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.'

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, could lead to a 'Unified Theory of Transsexualism' and better represent and serve the diversity of our community.


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