J. Michael Bailey

John Michael Bailey (born July 2, 1957 in Lubbock, Texas) is an American psychologist and professor at Northwestern University. He is best known for his controversial work on biology and sexual orientation, which suggests a heritable component for sexual orientation. Some of his work in this area has elicited a very strong reaction from members of the gay and transgender communities, ranging from revilement to nomination for a Lambda Literary Foundation (an organization that promotes LGBT literature) award. Academic criticism has included accusations of research misconduct and practicing psychology without a license, but these accusations have been found unsubstantiated and characterized as a "form of harassment" in an investigation conducted by Northwestern University.

Background and career

Bailey was born in Lubbock, Texas. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Washington University in 1979 and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989, where he studied under behavioral genetics researcher Lee Willerman.

Bailey became a professor at Northwestern University in 1989. In the 1990s, Bailey published several papers that suggested a heritable component for sexual orientation. In 2003 he published his first and only book, The Man Who Would Be Queen.

In October 2004, Bailey resigned as chairman of the Psychology Department. Bailey still serves as a Northwestern professor.


Bailey is well-known for research involving biology and sexual orientation. In the early 1990s he coauthored with Richard Pillard a series of twin studies which examined the rate of concordance of sexual identity among monozygotic twins (52% concordance), dizygotic twins of the same sex (22%), non-twin siblings of the same sex, and adoptive siblings of the same sex (11%).

The Council for Responsible Genetics and other researchers have criticized this work for using a self-selected sample, a problem which his later studies have attempted to remedy.

Based on Bailey's interpretation of evolutionary psychology, homosexuality is an evolutionary mistake or paradox, and may represent "a developmental error." He has linked homosexuality to higher levels of psychopathology.

In December 2006, he controversially suggested that aborting a fetus after fetal screening for sexual orientation is "morally acceptable....even assuming, as we do, that homosexuality is entirely acceptable morally" Bailey's view was that selecting the sexual orientation of one's offspring would be beneficial because it "would further a parent's freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise."

The Man Who Would Be Queen

The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism was published in 2003 by Joseph Henry Press. In it, Bailey lays out an argument that male homosexuality is congenital and a result of heredity and prenatal environment. He also suggests that transsexualism is either an extreme type of homosexuality or an expression of a paraphilia, known as autogynephilia.

The book generated considerable controversy, as well as a formal investigation by Northwestern University, where Bailey was Chair of the Psychology Department until shortly before the conclusion of the investigation. Northwestern made it clear that his change in status had nothing to do with the book. Bailey insists that he did nothing wrong and that the attacks on him were motivated by the desire to suppress discussion of the book's ideas about transsexualism, especially autogynephilia.

Written in a popular science style, the book summarizes research done on the topic that supports Bailey's opinions. The online version of the book (along with most other books in the catalogue) was removed from the Joseph Henry Press site in February 2006.

In 2003, critics of Bailey's controversial book levied claims of research misconduct. Northwestern University investigated Bailey, but did not reveal the findings of that investigation and did not comment on whether or not Bailey had been punished. Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar at Northwestern, published a history of the controversy three years after the investigation concluded. The New York Times reported that Dreger found Bailey "basically blameless." Her results have been accepted for publication in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. According to Dreger, the allegations of misconduct could more accurately be described as forms of harassment and intimidation by Bailey's critics in an effort to destroy him personally and professionally. For example, some critics' harassment included postings photographs of Bailey's children with obscene captions to the Internet. "If we're going to have research at all, then we're going to have people saying unpopular things," said Dreger in a New York Times interview, "and if this is what happens to them, then we've got problems not only for science but free expression itself."

Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men

Bailey once again stirred controversy in 2005 as senior author of a study which claimed male bisexuality does not exist, based on results of controversial penile plethysmograph testing. The testing found that of men who identified as bisexual, 75% were only aroused genitally by homosexual imagery, and 25% were only aroused genitally by heterosexual imagery. They concluded that bisexuality was a subjective experience: "Male bisexuality appears primarily to represent a style of interpreting or reporting sexual arousal rather than a distinct pattern of genital sexual arousal."

The study received wide attention after a New York Times piece on the study that coincided with the opening of the 2005 International Academy of Sex Research convention. The article and study were criticized by LBGT groups and by FAIR. Critics argued the sample size was relatively small, consisting of only one hundred (100) men. Also, all of these subjects were "self-selected", from ads placed in LGBT and "alternative" publications. Then the researchers had to disregard results of thirty-five percent (35%) of this population, as non-responders.

Agreeing with the author's conclusion that bisexuality is a subjective experience, the late Dr. Fritz Klein, a sex researcher and the author of The Bisexual Option argued that "social and emotional attraction are very important elements in bisexual attraction."

Still others argued that measuring genital arousal to two-minute-long sequences of pornographic gay or lesbian films is a crude and inaccurate measure, which could be easily influenced by external factors such as discomfort with the research process itself as well as there being issues with the use of plethysmograph. These issues could easily account for 35% of the subjects not responding genitally to any sexual stimuli.

Selected bibliography

See also

External links

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This article is based on "J. Michael Bailey" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=J.+Michael+Bailey&action=history