A critique of J. Michael Bailey's "The Man who would be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism" begins by introducing Michael Bailey and key ideas like Blanchard's autogynephilia.

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Who is J. Michael Bailey and What is the Controversy?

J. Michael Bailey is the Psychology Department Chair at Northwestern University. After graduating college he was a mathematics teacher before returning to school to study Clinical Psychology . His earliest work was about genetic contributions to IQ. For over a decade his work has examined human sexuality, especially gay men's expression of femininity.

Controversy seems to endlessly surround Michael Bailey. Much to the chagrin of religious conservatives, Bailey's early research suggested a genetic contribution to sexual orientation (e.g., Bailey & Pillard, 1991). In the recent past, some conservative members of the United States Congress were upset with the National Institute of Health's decision to fund some of Bailey's research that included showing pornographic movie clips to women (e.g., Chivers et al, 2003). They attempted unsuccessfully to pass a law to end funding of his and others grants. Most recently, transgendered persons from across the political spectrum have become upset with his book, "The Man who would be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism. (Bailey, 2003)"

The most contentious part of the most recent controversy is in how Bailey endorses Blanchard's mis-directed sex-drive model of transsexuality. Bailey's interpretation of Blanchard's model promotes the idea that transsexual women are, in essence, men. For example, he says, "Heterosexual men who want to be women are not naturally feminine; there is no sense in which they have women's souls (Bailey, 2003, pg. xii)."

Blanchard's model of transsexuality comes from the perspective of psychopathology ("what's wrong"), rather than a value-neutral approach to transgenderism. For example, rather than asking, "what is transgenderism?", Blanchard's (1991) asks, "What kind of defect in a male's capacity for sexual learning could produce anatomic autogynephilia, transvestitism ...?" Though Bailey portrays himself as the objective scientist [1], nowhere is his book does he oppose the value judgements inherent in a mental illness model of transgenderism. To the contrary, he expresses hope that upcoming editions of the DSM will distinguish autogynephilic and homosexual transsexualism (Bailey, 2003, pg.176) [2]. When it comes to discussing homosexuality, his feelings are very explicit and very different. He discusses homosexuality's removal from the DSM and challenges some of the claims that mental illness suffered by gay men at rates beyond the general population are due only to social stigma (Bailey, 2003, pg.81-83). Even so, he passionately says, "Regardless of what we learn, nothing I have written suggests we should return homosexuality to the DSM and again consider it a mental illness (Bailey, 2003, pg. 83)." Bailey recognizes that he holds different value judgements for homosexuals and transsexuals when he discusses the pathology of 'homosexual' transsexuals: "People who believe that homosexuality is not a disorder tend to dislike the implication that a subset of homosexuals are disordered (Bailey, 2003, pg. 179)."

Bailey's descriptions of cross-dressers and 'non-homosexual' transsexuals differ from accounts given by many of these transgendered persons. Bailey does not believe this is an honest difference of interpretation. Rather he exacerbates the controversy by suggesting the differing views are the consequence of transgendered person's outright lies and obsession. [3]

Nine months after the book's release, the controversy continues. Transsexual women continue to be upset about being portrayed as really men, as inherently mentally ill, and as obsessive liars when they fail to agree with him. In what follows: I examine Bailey's book, the controversy over using Blanchard's model for an overarching understanding of transsexuality, and the data Bailey uses to suggest transgendered people lie.

Footnote 1: For example, the abstract for J. Michael Bailey's talk at the 2003 conference of the International Academy of Sex Research suggests that his book provoked transgendered "identity politics" and this reaction is a "hindrance" to "scientific truth."

Footnote 2: The DSM is an official list of mental illnesses as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. As I discuss elsewhere, it would be more in line with consensus views of mental illness to diagnose the suffering of transgendered persons (e.g., depression) rather than diagnosing who a person is as a disorder. Subsequent treatment could include therapy, medicine, and transitioning.

Footnote 3: On page 175 Bailey (2003) says, "There is one more reason why many autogynephiles provide misleading information about themselves that is different than outright lying. It has to do with obsession."

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