The Man Who Would Be Queen

The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism is a controversial 2003 book by J. Michael Bailey, published 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. Free access to the online version of the book on the Joseph Henry Press site was disabled in February 2006.

Summary

The book is divided into three sections: The Boy Who Would Be Princess, The Man He Might Become, and Women Who Once Were Boys.

The Boy Who Would Be Princess

The book starts with an anecdote about a child Bailey calls "Danny." Bailey writes of Danny's mother, who has been frustrated by other therapists she has seen about her son's "feminine" behavior: "In spring of 1996 Leslie Ryan came to my Northwestern University office to seek yet another opinion." He discusses Kenneth Zucker's therapy for boys with gender identity "disorder". Zucker recommends family therapy, to treat conflicts that prolong gender identity disorder, individual therapy to help the child adjust to being his biological sex, and taking away anything "feminine" from the child. Although Bailey speculates that a world tolerant of gender-nonconforming boys might "come with the cost of more transsexual adults," he adds that "maybe it would be worth it though".

Bailey uses the anecdote to discuss young boys considered to have a psychological condition referred to as gender identity disorder (GID). This term is used to describe patients, usually children, who exhibit a large amount of salient gender-atypical behavior such as cross-dressing, boys preferring to play with dolls, identification with female characters in stories or movies. This section also discusses some case studies of men who were, for varying reasons, reassigned to the female sex shortly after their birth, and emphasizes the fact that, despite this, they tended to exhibit typically male characteristics and often a desire to identify as a male.

The Man He Might Become

The second section deals primarily with homosexual men, including a suggested link between GID and male homosexuality later in life. This link was best established by the research of Richard Green, but it has been replicated in other prospective studies and many retrospective studies. In particular, he discusses whether homosexuality is a congenitally or possibly even genetically related phenomenon. This includes references to his studies as well as those of Simon LeVay and Dean Hamer. He also discusses the behavior of gay men and its typically masculine and feminine qualities.

Women Who Once Were Boys

The third section is primarily about male to female transsexualism and has spurred much controversy surrounding the book and its author. In this section, Bailey uses a psychological model due to Ray Blanchard that male to female transsexuals fall into two categories related to their reasons for a desire to transition. He also discusses the process by which this transition occurs.

When Bailey runs into Danny in the end of the book, he has become less feminized. The last paragraph of the book has Danny emphasizing that he needs to go use the men's room. Critics have suggested parallels with "gay cure" narratives, as well as parallels with the success reported by John Money in "treating" David Reimer (later proven to be academic fraud). These criticisms are inconsistent with prospective data suggesting that most very feminine boys grow up to be gay men rather than transwomen.

Controversy

Largely because of a single chapter in its third section, the book and its author have been surrounded by a great deal of controversy. The major point of contention is Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence theory, which is presented favorably. This theory categorizes transsexuals into one of two types labeled "autogynephilic transsexuals" and "homosexual transsexuals." The basic idea is that these two subtypes of transwomen transition to female for different reasons, both driven by sex:

The ability of these concepts to accurately describe some or all male-to-female transsexuals is at the center of the debate.

Bailey's most vocal critics were trans women, including two women whose case studies were featured in the book.

Bailey's critics generally claim that his book presents his speculations, anecdotes, and opinions as science. Bailey asserts that they are "misunderstanding" the book. Further, he claims that many of his most prominent critics have seriously misrepresented his actual claims and attempted to defame him because they dislike their own transsexualism being explained as autogynephilia.

His prominent critics and defenders both include peers in sexology. Bailey's response was a lecture at the 2003 International Academy of Sex Research titled "Identity politics as a hindrance to scientific truth." Immediately after Bailey's presentation, John Bancroft, then head of the Kinsey Institute, told Bailey: "Michael, I would caution you against calling this book 'science' because I have read it ... and I can tell you it is not science." Bancroft has subsequently refused to clarify what he meant by this statement. Eli Coleman, head of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association has described the book as "bad science" and an "unfortunate setback" of his own theories on transsexualism. Clinician Walter Bockting noted that "the book fails to offer a balanced and well-cited review of the scientific literature," although this omission is common in books intended for a non-technical audience (Bockting 2005). On the book's jacket, Anne Lawrence, in contrast, praised the book as "wonderful," and Simon LeVay called it "absolutely splendid."

Some GLBT rights groups have spoken out about Bailey's claims in various publications, including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GenderPAC, as well as three prominent transwomen:

While some transgendered people agree with Bailey and Blanchard, many others believe that their behavioral model is not only inaccurate, but a reflection of anti-trans attitudes and a form of defamation.

Originally, the Lambda Literary Foundation nominated the book as a finalist in the transgender award category for 2003. Transpeople immediately protested the nomination and gathered thousands of petition signatures in just a few days. Under pressure from the petition, LLF's judges examined the book more closely, decided that they considered it transphobic, and removed it from their list of finalists.

Many of Bailey's critics attack not only his book, but his personal integrity. Two of the transwomen in his book and several organizations accuse him of several ethical breaches in his work. Bailey has adamantly denied that he behaved unethically. A top-level investigation at Northwestern University, begun at the instigation of his critics, completely exonerated him. In 2003, the federal DHHS issued a clarification which formally states that taking oral histories, interviewing people (as if for a piece of journalism), and collecting anecdotes does not constitute IRB-qualified research. Furthermore, all available objective evidence shows that Bailey was with his children at his ex-wife's home on the evening of the alleged tryst.

As part of this controversy, a male-to-female transsexual person who was interviewed for his book accused Bailey of having sex with her while she was his research subject. She has refused to offer details or discuss the accusation, which Bailey has denied. Email records have suggested that Bailey was at the home of his ex-wife with their children on the date of the alleged contact.

It was also suggested that Dr. Bailey violated scientific standards by, "conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of the study." Bailey countered by stating that, "I interviewed people for a book [...] This is a free society, and that should be allowed." Research conducted by Dr. Alice Dreger of Northwestern University, reported in the New York Times, has concluded that "two of the four women who complained to Northwestern of research violations were not portrayed in the book at all. The two others did know their stories would be used, as they themselves said in their letters to Northwestern."

Following an appearance by Bailey on CBS 60 Minutes, The Advocate published an opinion piece that asserted, "Bailey's insistence on his authority in defining what does and doesn't qualify as gay and his dedication to discovering a 'cause' for gayness is only temperamentally different from those who insist on finding a 'cure.'"

In 2006, the Chicago Free Press (a GLBT free weekly) announced it would no longer accept ads for studies conducted by Bailey. In an editorial entitled "Bad Science," the newspaper said would not allow itself to be used "to further the dubious agenda of someone who believes he should not be held accountable to our community."The Free Press editor told Editor & Publisher that an e-mail blast to a listserv from Bailey himself was the source of most letters protesting the decision. Journalist Jim D'Entremont countered that "Bailey's critics follow the familiar patterns of ideologues seeking to discredit scientists whose findings they deem politically wrong."

The controversy surrounding Bailey's book has been cited as an example of infringement of academic and intellectual freedom and freedom of speech by Northwestern ethics scholar, Alice Dreger. "What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field," said Dreger. "If we're going to have research at all, then we're going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we've got problems not only for science but free expression itself... The bottom line is that they tried to ruin this guy, and they almost succeeded." Bailey called the two years following its publication as "the hardest of my life."

Concerns about academic and intellectual freedom

The controversy surrounding Bailey's book has been cited as an alarming example of infringement of academic and intellectual freedom and freedom of speech. Charges that Bailey acted "unethically, immorally, and illegally" were investigated by Northwestern University ethicist Alice Dreger, who determined the accusations were unfounded. "What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field," said Dreger. "If we're going to have research at all, then we're going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we've got problems not only for science but free expression itself... The bottom line is that they tried to ruin this guy, and they almost succeeded." Bailey called the two years following its publication as "the hardest of my life."

External links

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