Alice Dreger

Timeline of her personal feud with me


hermaphrodite monger
hbo middle sexes
Alice Dreger in a still from the HBO
Middle Sexes preview (Thomas 2005)
in which we both appear. The
“hermaphrodite” title appears in original preview video.

Me (on left) in a still from the HBO
Middle Sexes preview (Thomas 2005)
in which we both appear. The
“transgender” title appears in
original preview video.

Alice Dreger background

(Alice Dreger main article)

monger (verb): To trade or deal in: said especially of unfair or illegal methods and dealings.

Alice Domurat Dreger is a self-styled “hermaphrodite monger” (Dreger 1994) and former tenured professor who currently holds a job at Northwestern University. Dreger is the J. Michael Bailey of the intersex community: someone whose trade is writing and speaking about controversies surrounding marginalized populations.

Dreger is most famous (if you can call her that) for pushing to abandon the term “intersex” in favor of the medicalized term DSD, for “disorders of sex development” (Dreger 2005). Though Dreger has claimed that "DSD isn't terribly stigmatizing” (Dreger 2006a), activists and experts have objected to Dreger’s pathologizing disease model (e.g. OII 2006, Diamond 2006). Like her counterpart Bailey, Dreger leverages her academic connections to suppress and discredit criticism.

Dreger’s academic influence had faded by 2006, however. She claimed she wanted to spend more time with her son and was “exhausted” (Dreger 2006b), but what was really exhausted was the money she’d been paid to prepare promotional materials for the DSD Consortium (Dreger 2006c), a group from which she was about to resign. What’s a part-time minor academic with no upcoming projects or funding to do?

Hack journalists want to be in their stories, and hack historians long to make themselves part of history. Alice Dreger craves the fame and attention that have largely eluded her, and her preferred methods and dealings include complaining, rumor-mongering, and trolling. I believe the record shows that she instigated a personal feud with me in hopes of positioning herself as somewhat relevant again in academia, part of her attempt to recast herself as a bioethicist.

Normally, I don’t bother dealing with kooks and academic nobodies like Dreger. I’ve learned they’re just not worth the effort. I did not issue a public response to Dreger's antics until August 2007, about 18 months after she began fixating on me.

Alice Dreger unsuccessfully tried to suppress a 2006 speech I was invited to give at her school and twice tried to get me fired. Her obsessive anger following those failures drove her to spend a year on her magnum opus about Bailey’s 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen and the ensuing investigations (Conway 2003, Wilson 2004). Dreger calls her work a “partial history” (Dreger 2007), apparently missing the second meaning. It is certainly partial in both senses. This 53,000-word apologia epitomizes why I left academia. Sadly, this kind of sloppy, vindictive nonsense passes as scholarship today, especially at the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the house organ for Bailey and his cronies (Springer 2007) associated with Toronto’s regressive CAMH Clarke Institute. It’s remarkable how much Dreger deliberately omitted despite rambling for over 60 pages.

Unfair methods: intellectual dishonesty and media manipulation

Though there are many, many more examples, I want to note at the onset one key instance of Alice Dreger’s intellectual dishonesty in service of her personal vendetta against me.

Dreger’s claims that I have made “explicit threats” against her are patent nonsense. I am well-known for my anti-violence activism. The all-transgender Vagina Monologues I co-produced in 2004 benefited the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (now called Peace Over Violence). That event was historic enough to be made into a documentary (Aronson 2006). I’m featured in a book of anti-violence activists (Ensler 2005). I speak about stopping anti-trans violence in a documentary in which Dreger also appears (see side-by-side screenshots above) (Thomas 2005).

Her claim that she is “in fear” (Dreger 2006e) is obviously a disingenuous tactic. Dreger just needed a nemesis to inject herself into this faded controversy and to make her involvement more melodramatic. She also needed a pretext not to interview me for her “history.” My first emailed response to Dreger assumed her questions were in good faith, despite her petulant tone. Her response proved I was wrong about her intent. Dreger’s selective quoting in order to make me sound menacing is laughable when put back in context.

In response to Dreger’s ongoing personal vendetta against me, now masquerading as “scholarship,” I am releasing our seven private emails for the record, as well as related emails to others in which we mention each other. Dreger’s gossipy, partisan hit piece is certainly not newsworthy, but Dreger is pushing hard to get her media connections to cover this non-event. She explains how to manipulate reporters on her website:

… the best way to do it is the one-two punch: publish in a medical journal, and then make as big a media stink about it as you can, for example, by writing a national editorial about it, or by using relationships you’ve developed with reporters. (Dreger 2006d)

Bailey had developed a relationship with Benedict Carey at the New York Times, who wrote me on 2 August 2007 requesting comment about Alice Dreger’s unpublished paper (Carey 2007a). Carey didn’t think the Bailey investigation was newsworthy enough to mention in his 2005 “Straight, Gay, or Lying” piece about Bailey’s bisexuality “controversy” (Carey 2005). Carey was criticized by everyone from media watchdogs (FAIR 2005) to LGBT rights groups (GLAAD 2005, NGLTF 2005) for his reporting. In 2007, Bailey and Dreger fed him Dreger's unpublished apologia in hopes of getting Carey to print a story just as the IASR annual sexology conference started. Carey’s bisexuality piece was similarly timed in 2005, but this time it appears his Times editors were aware of the appearance of impropriety and postponed it until after the conference (Carey 2007b). Since Carey and others apparently take Dreger seriously, I decided to defend myself from Dreger’s 18 months of escalating personal attacks.

Timeline and correspondence

Below are the seven emails Alice Dreger and I exchanged, unabridged and chronologically ordered with contextualization and annotation. Four of them were on the first day she contacted me (May 16). Since few will want to slog through this, here's a summary:

  • May 9, 2006: Dreger contacts faculty in unsuccessful attempt to suppress my upcoming Northwestern University speech.
  • May 11: Dreger contacts my student hosts in unsuccessful attempt to suppress my upcoming Northwestern University speech.
  • May 13: Dreger publishes "The blog I write in fear" in unsuccessful attempt to get me to respond.
  • May 16:
  • May 18: Dreger's attempts at stifling dissent are unsuccessful. I speak at Northwestern.
  • May 22: I stop by Dreger's offices while in town to see her and another person I know in her program.
  • May 27: Intersex activists contact me about Dreger's "lies, distortions and outright bigotry."
  • June 1: Dreger unsuccessfully tries to get me fired from my speakers bureau. I send a note mocking her efforts.
  • June 7: Dreger publishes "A follow-up on my encounter with Andrea James," selectively quoting exactly as I predicted.
  • June 12: Dreger and Bailey unsuccessfully try to get me fired from my speakers bureau again.
  • June 13: Dreger begins interviews for her "history."
  • August 1: Dreger interviews continue.
  • September 20: I link to intersex activists critical of Dreger's "disorders of sex development" model.
  • October 1: Dreger emails her mailing list bemoaning my attempts to "ruin" people and discredit her.
  • October 3: I mockingly suggest to Dreger that she stop fixating on me, to no avail.

May 9, 2006:

Alice Dreger gets the alarm call:

“Bailey emailed me to let me know that Andrea James had been invited by Northwestern University’s Rainbow Alliance to speak at the Evanston campus of our university.” (Dreger 2007)

Apparently attempting to ingratiate herself with Bailey, her coworkers, and Northwestern administrators, Dreger starts contacting faculty at Northwestern about getting my speech stopped.

They generally ignore her attempts. One academic takes her to task for trying to stop the free exchange of ideas:

“I support Northwestern students in gathering knowledge about sex and sexuality from many points of view.” (Dreger 2006e)

She’s none too happy, so Dreger escalates things.

May 11:

Alice Dreger contacts Northwestern’s Rainbow Alliance in hopes of silencing me. (Dreger 2007)

Though Dreger claimed in her May 16 letter to me that this led to a "productive dialog," they in fact ignore her.

She’s none too happy, so Dreger escalates things.

May 13:

Alice Dreger posts “The blog I write in fear.” (Dreger 2006e) It focuses on some deliberately offensive satire I wrote in 2003 about how Bailey tends to reduce sexuality to pseudoscientific binaries. Bailey had no problems with mocking gender-variant children in his lectures (Roughgarden 2003), so I responded in kind. Today, the only place that satire is available is on Bailey’s website, part of his pattern of using his own children in service of his arguments.

With Mother’s Day the next day, Dreger must have been feeling a bit sentimental about being a mommy as she blogged about me:

“I just hope she keeps her words off my kid. (Defender of children, my ass.)” (Dreger 2006e)

Dreger opines about why my upcoming lecture should be stopped:

“I would feel the same way were someone to be interested in, say, inviting a neo-Nazi to speak on campus.” (Dreger 2006e)

She adds:

“I hardly think there is any point in hearing from folks like Fred Phelps, nor do I think it makes any sense to invite Andrea James.” (Dreger 2006e)

I ignore her.

She’s none too happy, so Dreger escalates things.

May 16:

Alice Dreger contacts me by email to make sure I had seen her blog, hypocritically advising me to  “consider toning down (better yet, ending) your attacks.”

Dreger also mentions an email I sent in 1998 to Anne Lawrence (James 1998, see Appendix 1), before it was public knowledge that Lawrence's 1997 resignation as an anesthesiologist (Washington Dept. of Health 1997) was connected with Lawrence's erotic interest in ritualized genital modification (which Lawrence describes as "autogynephilia," a sex-fueled mental illness made up by Ray Blanchard). Based on Dreger's misinterpretation of my first-blush response to Lawrence's introduction to the concept (Lawrence 1998), Dreger claims that I clearly describe myself as an “autogynophile” [sic].

From: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 13:41:11 -0400
Subject: a quick note

Dear Ms. James,

I presume by now you've heard about my blog regarding your visit to our campus:

I thought about contacting you directly regarding this, but I get the sense from your posts that productive dialogue is not a real option for us. Happily the post has led to productive dialogue with others, including your student hosts.

In response to my post I also ended up talking with Anne Lawrence, who forwarded me an email you sent her in 1998. In case you don't recall, in that message you praised her work, Blanchard's work, and clearly described yourself and other trans women as autogynophiles [sic].

For the record, I have no problem with autogynophilia [sic] --the concept or the identity. I confess that what confuses me is how you got from that to all this.

As someone who finds herself working in pediatric gender clinics to try to get doctors to be more supportive of children with atypical gender and sex presentations, I'd personally appreciate if you could consider toning down (better yet, ending) your attacks. The kind of rhetoric you employ only leads doctors to believe that children who don't end up gender-stablized [sic] end up violent and angry. Naturally, I know otherwise, but I do find progress is more quickly achieved by staying in civil discourse.


Alice Dreger, Ph.D.
Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

Though I was about to jump on a plane to speak at her school, I send back a 2,500-word response outlining the issues, explaining why I took that tack with Bailey and correcting her misinterpretation of what I meant in the 1998 email to Dr. Lawrence. I have linked key terms below for reference; full URLs were in original.

From: Andrea James <>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 17:52:08 -0700
To: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
Subject: Re: a not quick note

Hi Alice--

Yes, I read your recent troll about a three-year-old (and settled) debate. I'm chalking up your Helen Lovejoy-style "Won't someone please think of the children?" histrionics to Mother's Day weekend. You'll have to do a lot better than comparing me to Fred Phelps and neo-Nazis to compete. One guy who used to have a hate site about me is doing a life sentence in Colorado for a string of sexual assaults, so some rich straight white yuppie mommy blogger breaking Godwin's Law isn't really in the same league in terms of the offensiveness or intimidation I deal with on a daily basis, ya know? ;)

So, despite the way you decided to start this dialogue, let's proceed, shall we? You have somewhat of a one-sided picture on this, likely caused by USENET kooks like Willow Arune and Kiira Triea, not to mention three years of damage control by Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence, and a sense of institutional loyalty to your employer. Since we are three years after the fact, let me get you up to speed. This is very messy and complicated, so I’ll try to keep it short.

We'll start with Blanchard’s neologism "autogynephilia." As I discuss in “The Anne Who Would Be Queen,” I fell for this simplistic trap of categorization myself early on. Back when I first got on the internet in 1995, I had come across some of Ray Blanchard’s early writings on the “types” of transsexuals and summarized them online. It seemed like a useful rudimentary way to think about sexuality in our community, and I still believe it has its limited uses in explaining that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. As many others have, I also did not grasp that this was a paraphilic model which casts our motivations as a sex-fueled mental illness. One of my majors was classical Greek, so I assumed "philia" (friendly love, affection, friendship, as opposed to “eros”) could be considered in apposition to "phobia" (panic fear/hatred) and suggested to Dr. Lawrence that my own motivation might be better described as "autoandrophobia," a hatred of my self as male. I see my own self-loathing as akin to anorexia, mitigated greatly by transition. You'll find all that in the letter that was sent to you.

It wasn’t until Bailey’s book that I saw where all that was going in terms of the DSM and other forms of institutionalized oppression we face. I have written up a page summarizing why "autogynephilia" is an iatrogenic artifact here:

A fuller, more “scholarly” discussion of the issue is here:

I have also written up some background on Anne Lawrence, including the very telling ethics incident that forced her to resign as an anesthesiologist and an incident that occurred with me when we were planning to collaborate on a book. As you probably know, I maintain the foremost site on the practical aspects of transition, and Dr. Lawrence maintains the largest collection of surgery photos and first-hand reports (which it turns out has an erotic component). At that time, I didn’t see a need to duplicate efforts, since our sites were complementary. Since then, Dr. Lawrence has removed all links and references to sites that don’t share the same views, as well as links to several surgeons who have threatened lawsuits, which might give the impression that Dr. Lawrence is not a pariah in the trans community. You can read about the whole sordid mess here:

Dr. Lawrence has compared transsexualism with amputee fetishism at amputee fetish conferences (the analogue to “gender conventions,” which Dr. Lawrence also cruises, according to those who go to them). In that community they divide the fetishists into devotees, pretenders, and wannabes, and I discuss that here:

As I have mentioned, I believe it’s better to drop the medicalized “paraphilia” stuff (which is being questioned as a concept) and think of gender variance in terms of interest in feminization, erotic interest in feminization, and autoerotic interest in feminization. These interests can be objective (toward others) or subjective (toward self) as well as for others and for self, and they do not rely on binaries of male/female and gay/straight. They also acknowledge that interest in feminization is not necessarily erotic, where in the BBL model it is always driven by sexual desire (“that which moves us most” according to Anne Lawrence) and is modeled as a psychosexual pathology.

Now, on to Blanchard and company. During the time they were the sole source of funding in Ontario, they turned down 90% of trans people who came to them for sex reassignment. This led to an incredibly competitive system where they ended up turning down anyone who would not submit to their increasingly regressive requirements, which led to serious sampling bias. That meant anyone who could do so got their health services through private or extralegal networks, as it had been done before ”gender clinics” cropped up in the late 1960s. That left two main groups for Blanchard: those who got off on the forced feminization and humiliation of the “Jurassic Clarke” program, or those who had to report to his offices because of sex offences. Oh, and children who Blanchard pal Ken Zucker forces to conform to gender roles to “cure” them. It turns out that Blanchard and pals consider “male gender dysphorics, paedophiles, and fetishists” to be basically the same thing. Some have suggested that Blanchard’s interest stemmed from seeing if chemically and physically castrated sex offenders had less recidivism. Perhaps you’re aware of another Canadian, Aubrey Levin at the University of Calgary, who performed similar experiments on gay South African soldiers. Anyway, the Clarke Institute is named for Canada’s foremost eugenicist, Charles Kirk Clarke, and was originally an asylum. Blanchard was one of the first members of the “Human Biodiversity Institute” mailing list for eugenics, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, or whatever they are calling it this year. The most noted surgeons in Canada, Menard and now Brassard, will not accept referrals from the Clarke. I suggest reading “Access Denied” by Ki Namaste for a good overview.

Most people who actually read Bailey’s book, from the head of the Kinsey Institute to the President of HBIGDA on down, realized it was not science and told Bailey just that. That’s probably why he vacated his post at the IASR right after John Bancroft called him out in front of an auditorium of his peers. Bailey’s book is a variation on the old “gay cure” narrative, where Bailey heroically cures a gender variant child growing up without a father figure by stepping in to set an example of a real man and by forcing the child to conform to gender roles. Never mind that the “Danny” story is apparently a fabrication... Perhaps that’s something you can look into. Never mind that Bailey abandoned his own family, either (right around the time he started “studying” transsexual women)... perhaps some issues being resolved there.

Bailey’s book is a polemic, modeled after The Bell Curve and other successful books of that kind put out by members of the Human Biodiversity Institute list. They learned that controversy is marketable and gets you on TV. Bailey’s writing is a refinement of the work by his mentor Lee Willerman, a prominent member of the American Eugenics Society. As The Advocate called Bailey’s work last month, his is “a kinder, gentler homophobia.” Had he kept his book scholarly, like the article where he says screening for and aborting gay fetuses is morally acceptable and a matter of parental rights, the response to his book would have been different. Here’s my take on what’s really going on, now that he’s claiming his science proves males are “gay, straight, or lying”:

For the best overview of Bailey, I recommend Nancy Ordover’s American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism. She places his work squarely in the context of the American and German eugenics movements.

As for Kiira Triea, she’s quite a story, too. Former Johns Hopkins employee who after a 1993 breakdown claims to have been subjected to sexualized experiments by her employer when she was younger. [2007 correction: though Triea had a Johns Hopkins email address at, she does not appear to have been an employee.] Since the breakdown, she’s become a poor man’s Laura Albert, a semi-employed wannabe rocker who created a bunch of JT LeRoy type “transkids” only she knows, and who all have Spanish, Japanese, or Finnish names. The Finnish is related to the open source program Linux, invented by a Finn. Denise Tree (as she was known then) was once the Linux newsletter editor, and her own new name is Finnish. There’s also her friend Dr. Aeirt, whose surname is an anagram of her new name. I’m sure there’s a reason ISNA has backed away from her a bit, but it seems she still has the ear of a few people there despite being a little off her rocker these days.

Willow Arune, the leader of the “autogynephilia” movement, is another character from whom you’ve undoubtedly heard:

Make sure to read the part about being a fugitive from Thailand because of a multimillion-dollar forgery charge. You can read about the abortive “autogynephilia” movement here:

The little graph gives a sense of the relative size and significance of this ersatz movement, which is greatly exaggerated by the volume and obsessiveness of their efforts. Yahoo pulled the plug on them after their “leader” Arune started a Yahoo group devoted to cyberstalking me, which encouraged other detractors from my other areas of consumer activism. Some of the tone is preserved here:

As you can see, you will need to ramp your histrionics up a bit to compete, but I consider your blog entry in the same general category as this one, what with the Nazi analogies and all. One of the other hate sites about me was called, by the way. Usually a Nazi analogy is the sign of someone who is a little unhinged when they are writing.

Our suite of websites gets well over three million visitors a year, probably four million this year at the current growth rate. If you ask actual transsexuals, not what are described in the literature as “transvestic applicants for sex reassignment,” I think you’ll find that your opinion of me is a little out of step with the world outside of the BBL clique. Sorry if you got a bad first impression from something I had on my site for a couple of weeks in 2003. I apologized to Bailey’s son directly three years ago. The only place it lives on is at Bailey’s website and in the posts of his vocal supporters. When we sit down for a chat, I’ll explain exactly why I took that tack if you wish. You know what’s funny? Bailey was flogging away at that dead horse during his IASR lecture titled “Identity politics as a hindrance to scientific truth” when Dr. Bancroft stood up and told him his book was not science. The sexologists who witnessed it said it was obviously the turning point in Bailey’s career, and you could see it on his face as the crowd sat in stunned silence. Wish I coulda been there. That’s when this matter was settled to me, long before the half-assed “investigation” and the double secret probation that NU won’t discuss.

Of course, Bailey continues to be popular at Northwestern. I mean, it’s pretty hard not to make sex interesting for college students, right? Then there’s his exotic safari tours of gay bars and transgender hooker bars, and his “freak of the week” afterschool specials where he trots out some gay guy who for $50 will tell about his 500 sex partners, or attention-craving eccentrics who desperately want an audience and don’t understand how they appear to others. Bailey’s the Jerry Springer of academia. No wonder the kids love him.

Since he “cures” Danny in his book, I guess it makes sense you’re down with him, too. After all, you ask “Why not change minds instead of bodies?” Bailey’s book is a perfect answer the very question that drives your life’s work! Allowing kids like Danny (well, real kids, not made up ones) to express gender as they wish “could come at the cost of more transsexuals,” as Bailey intones in his book. Better change those minds now with indoctrination and aversion therapy! The kids on the playground were pretty good with their own brand of aversion therapy when I was growing up, and now that has the imprimatur of science! I know people who were institutionalized as children for “gender nonconformity,” so whenever psychologists start talking about “nonconformity” as a disease, a little chill runs up my back. Did you know during Charles Kirk Clarke’s tenure, 50% of institutionalized people in Canada were foreign born immigrants, especially Bolsheviks, unionists, those kinds of “defectives”? Psychology as a tool of oppression is still alive and well, but they have gotten a bit more sophisticated in its use.

So, you and I can talk before Calpernia and I give our lecture if that would defuse things for you in some way. I am anticipating some hijinks while I’m there thanks in part to your efforts. The guy who runs the conservative student paper doesn’t like me either, because I made him retract some libel he published about me last year, so he and his gun nut buddies might be out for the show, too. Should be a good time. I cut my activism teeth on clinic defenses in Chicago during the Operation Rescue heyday, so I’m ready for anything. You see, I have two feet in. I am ready to take a bullet if that’s what it takes. That’s the difference between you and me. If you aren’t getting arrested or shot, you probably aren’t doing enough in my book. There are different kinds of progress, too. I’m capable of being all mediagenic when it’s called for (as you and I both were in the “Middle Sexes” documentary). Not all progress involves civil discourse and bringing people around to your way of thinking.

If you want to do an in-person thing, I’d prefer to meet with you next Monday or Tuesday, the 22nd or 23rd. I can come to your office downtown if you wish on those days. If you want to meet before our talk, you’ll need to come up to Evanston. In any case, I hope we can have a chat sometime soon, after you have looked over the links I’ve included in this not quick note.


P.S.: To end on a light note, you might have missed what in my opinion is much better satire of his book:

The earlier one was written before I knew Bailey had abandoned his wife and children to “study” transgender prostitutes and date his former Northwestern students. It makes the same “two-type” point in a subtler way.

P.P.S. Time constraints keep me from proofing this note, since I wanted to get this to you before I leave. Sorry it’s a bit long, but I don’t have time to give this the kind of thorough editing I usually give emails.

Dreger sent this 25-word response about a half hour later:

Ms. James,

I scanned your response and realized that the folks who told me attempts at productive dialogue with you is [sic] pointless were right.


Alice Dreger, Ph.D.
Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

Ignoring her grammar, I respond:

And I am starting to wonder if the folks who sent me supportive notes since you embarrassed yourself with that rant were right about bothering to respond. I planned to ignore you until you contacted me directly. I still answer all emails.

Though hope fades, the door remains open for a dialogue. Sounds like you've chosen sides on this one already, though.

See you in Chicago.


May 18:

I speak at Northwestern. Alice Dreger does not attend. Because of Dreger, the head of student affairs reads an opening statement echoing the faculty who told Dreger they support the students’ right to gather information from many points of view. Northwestern assigns a security guard in case of problems.

May 22:

As discussed in my first note, I stop by Dreger’s office to speak with her in person, but she is not there. Another person in the program whom I knew from when I lived in Chicago was not there, either. I speak with her colleagues briefly (they were all having lunch at a big table) and I leave my business card for Dreger.

May 27:

When I get home, I have an introductory email from intersex activist Curtis Hinkle of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII) who tells me Alice Dreger’s “lies, distortions and outright bigotry have damaged a lot of us.” Hinkle added that he felt her work “is very damaging to intersex kids” (Hinkle 2006). I first learn about her efforts to crush opposition to her pet concept, “disorders of sex development” (DSD). Since I have criticized disease models of gender variance (James 2004), I start to see how similar she is to Bailey, especially in terms of the “parental rights” arm of the modern eugenics movement. I bristled at her maternalistic attitudes toward intersex critics and the ascendant place reproduction has in her life and worldview. I thank the activists and offer to link to their information, suggesting they call the piece “Mommy Knows Best.” OII later uses the term and describes Dreger as “the self-appointed Mother of the intersex community in the United States” (Costich 2006). Echoing the “mommy” jab from my first response to her, I write Dreger:

From: Andrea James <>
Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 09:49:54 -0700
To: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
Subject: Mommy Knows Best

Sorry I missed you the other day. Your colleagues seem quite affable, and not as fearful as you.

DSD is going to be your merm and ferm. You have made a spectacular misstep with this disease model, though still not as inept as Bailey’s. Can’t wait till you and DSD are discredited by intersex activists (e.g., the world outside ISNA) and top-tier ethicists (e.g., not you) looking at the bigger picture. Your one-issue advocacy is selling out a larger movement for the sake of expediency. Bad move, mommy.

I’ll do what I can to assist them in discrediting you, and we’ll chat in person soon.


June 1:

Alice Dreger tries to get me fired from my speakers bureau:

From: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
To: <info @wolfman>; <scott @wolfman>
Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 7:25 AM
Subject: Andrea James


I wanted to let you know about this post, which explains why I recommend against inviting Andrea James to speak:

Her recent actions (i.e., responding to my criticisms with explicit threats to me/my work and implicit threats to my child) merely confirmed what I wrote originally in that post.


Alice Dreger, Ph.D.
Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

My speakers bureau writes:

Hi Andrea,

I wanted to let you know we got this sent to us.

I know we did not book that date for you and I read her blog which seems awfully angry & misplaced.

However, I thought I would let you know. . .

Let me know if I can do anything or should know anything!

I explain:


This person is upset because I got the Chair of the Psychology Department at her school investigated for ethics violations and wrote some satire of his tendency to reduce human sexuality to pseudoscientific binaries. I offended her sensibilities as a rich entitled mommy in academe, apparently.

Alice is a very fearful person, as you can see from her blog. I have to put up with this nonsense from losers like this all the time. That wasn’t even the most histrionic blog entry about me that week. Sorry you had to see the downside of being a political activist working to stop hackademics like this kook, and I look forward to our continued relationship!


Now that she’s trying to affect my livelihood, I respond to Dreger with what I know will put her over the top:

From: Andrea James <>
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 14:45:49 -0700
To: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
Subject: FW: Andrea James

You sure you want to play this way, Alice?

I know you can’t see it, but you are really embarrassing yourself with this angry mommy routine. Your thin skin and general fearfulness are affecting your judgment. You are cracking me up with your ineffectual rage.

I have made no threats to you or your precious womb turd. I could care less about your kid and your sense of breeder entitlement. I am, however, going to do what I can to discredit your lame-ass DSD model. At least you got that part right. I’m sure in your mind that constitutes a threat. You exemplify so many things wrong with academia today.

Hope that clears things up.


PS: I pre-wrote an “In fear” blog update you can just copy and paste:


That email was the match I handed Dreger which has led to her self-immolation. I believe that was the day Dreger decided to write her retaliatory hatchet job passing as sexology scholarship. In typical “gotcha” fashion favored by trolls, she spent the next year gathering any dirt she could, obsessed that I was out to “ruin” her.

She claims she contacted campus police, and since I was never detained by them or the Department of Homeland Security, I assume both law enforcement groups did what everyone else does.

They ignored her.

June 3:

A friend in Chicago tells me Anjelica Kieltyka called her to find out what my birth name was. Around this time, Kieltyka contacts Dreger (Dreger 2007, p. 6).

June 7:

Alice Dreger dutifully does exactly what I knew she would do and writes “A follow-up on my encounter with Andrea James” (Dreger 2006f). As I’ve noted, we’ve had no in-person “encounter,” but that sounds way more melodramatic than “A follow-up on my email to Andrea James.” Dreger’s response is substantively similar to my proposed cut-and-paste above, including the selective quotation of “womb turd” but minus the CAPS LOCK. That my use of “womb turd” will be the first ever instance of that phrase published in an “academic” journal (Dreger 2007, p. 4) says volumes about the quality of Dreger’s scholarship, her willingness to use her child for leverage in an argument (just as Bailey does), and the “scholarly” journal in which it appears.

June 12:

My speakers bureau gets a note from Dreger’s pal Bailey, too. They write:

Just so you know we did get a few more emailed from that woman & today received one from Bailey himself.

They tell Bailey:

We represent close to 100 speakers, all with varying opinions, topics, and beliefs. We are not responsible for their work outside of the events that we produce for them.
Please do not contact us, or have anyone else contact us, regarding this matter.

June 13:

Bailey’s none too happy, so he of course responds.

I wonder if you would take this approach if you found out that one of your client speakers had written in favor of neo-Naziism. I hope not. In which case, your response is unsatisfactory in every respect.

My speaker’s bureau ignores them both.

Alice Dreger starts looking for different ways to hurt me and decides to write a “history” of the Bailey fiasco, featuring me as the heavy.

She interviews or corresponds with Drew Bailey (June 20), J. Michael Bailey (July 6), Jim Marks (July 22), John Bancroft (July 22), Kim Wallen (July 26), journalist Robin Wilson (July 27), and Northwestern’s Institutional Review Board (July 31).

August 1:

An anonymous troll publishes a record of my court order for name change online and starts emailing me and others, using my former name as their email address.

Dreger interviews C. Bradley Moore (August 1), Simon LeVay (August 2), Ray Blanchard (August 2), Eli Coleman (August 4), J. Michael Bailey again (August 8), Anne Lawrence (August 8), Deb Bailey (August 9), Stephen Mautner (August 11), journalist Bill Horne (August 15), and Anjelica Kieltyka again (August 16).

The same day as her first formal Kieltyka interview, Dreger calls Professor Lynn Conway at the unlisted number Kieltyka had. Knowing that Dreger is working on a pro-Bailey hatchet job, Conway tells Dreger to stop harassing her.

Alice Dreger corresponds with Joan Linsenmeier (August 17), Jamison Green (August 20) interviews J. Michael Bailey again (August 25), contacts Walter Bockting (August 30), staff at HBIGDA (September 12), and interviews Anjelica Kieltyka again (September 19).

September 20:

I take two minutes to add a link on one of my sites to “Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development(OII 2006), created by intersex activists around the world criticizing Dreger and her DSD pathology.

Dreger interviews Anjelica Kieltyka two more times (September 22 and September 27), as well as Kiira Triea (September 28).

October 1:

Dreger writes to her mailing list confirming she has resigned from the DSD Consortium and blaming me for her woes:

The thing I want you to know is that I pissed off trans activist Andrea James (see, and as a result she decided she would try to attack me via attacking the DSD terminology. (Dreger 2006g, see Appendix 2)

This letter contains early versions of the same attacks on me in Dreger’s 2007 “history.”

October 3:

My readers tell me Dreger is sending out the mass mailing blaming me for the growing international concern about DSD. Here’s a typical response from me:

From: Andrea James <>
Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 19:17:13 -0700
Subject: Re: Dreger on You, etc. blah, blah, blah

What a kook, huh? Dreger has been fixating on me since I spoke at Northwestern last spring— writing my agent and anyone else she can think of. The obsession is not reciprocal, though, so it’s a little weird to see I have become her go-to folk demon. I don’t think she sees how she comes across to others. She seems to think I have mind control over Milton Diamond and IS activists around the globe who object to being labeled sextards by Dreger & co.:

I think she’s mad because she knows deep down that this was a huge mistake that will be a part of her legacy. If she keeps it up, I may actually even take a day or two and craft a response...


I can’t resist sending one last note to Dreger:

From: Andrea James <>
Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 23:03:55 -0700
To: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D." <>
Subject: Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development

Hi Alice!

Saw your latest rant. I am really in your head, aren’t I? Maybe Aron can manage your disorder with SSRIs.

When I expose quacks, kooks and criminals, it is merely by documenting and commenting on their own words and actions. It’s very telling that you construe this as “intimidation.” You’ll definitely know if I ever bother to put a few days against writing a public response to your ongoing harassment and insults.

While it’s oddly charming that you partly attribute the impending implosion of your career and legacy to me, your fixation on me is not reciprocal. Try to get me out of your head, sweetums. Drugs, therapy, hobbies, whatever it takes.

I am not the cause of your inevitable fall. You are.



I have no doubt Alice Dreger will continue to escalate what she started. She’ll try to set the rules of engagement and play the victim when her rules aren’t followed. She will spin lies of omission and distortion to bolster her arguments. She will use her child in this feud just as Bailey does. What Dreger doesn’t seem to understand is that I don’t care about her faux academic civility or credentialism. They are designed to give people like her the upper hand.

Looking beyond her ridiculous personal vendetta against me, I do hope I can assist those questioning Dreger’s disease model of intersex, just as I question disease models of gender variance (James 2004). Discrediting bad ideas and bad scholars will lead to empowerment for those who should be speaking for themselves. She can’t hurt me, but she can hurt a lot of intersex people in the long term.

In the meantime, I will periodically begin the work of discrediting both Dreger’s “partial history” and her.

With luck, farsighted activists and academics will soon see through Dreger’s petty, self-aggrandizing nonsense and pathologization and see both for what they are. That’s when Alice Dreger will finally get her wish. She will be a part of history, as an unfortunate historical footnote.

First published online 14 August 2007


Aronson J (2006). Beautiful Daughters. Logo.

Baechler M-N (2006). DSD - Silencing intersex voices - Switzerland Organisation Internationale des Intersexués.

Bailey JM (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press.
[online version removed in February 2006]

Carey B (2005). Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited. New York Times, 5 July 2005.

Carey B (2007a). Alice Dreger paper/NY Times questions. Personal email correspondence to the author, 2 August.

Carey B (2007b). Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege, New York Times, 21 August 2007.

Conway L (2003 ff.). An investigation into the publication of J. Michael Bailey's book on transsexualism by the National Academies.

Costich J, Hinkle C (2006). Talking About What Matters? A response to Alice Dreger.

Diamond M (2006). Variations of Sex Development Instead of Disorders of Sex Development.
Replying to Hughes IA et al. Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2006; 91: 554-563

Dreger A (1994). What is the deal? bionet.women-in-bio, 24 May

The Hermaphrodite Monger ADREGER at UCS.INDIANA.EDU

See also Dreger A (1994). Unsubscribing. bionet.women-in-bio,  27 September
“From: ADREGER@UCS.INDIANA.EDU (‘Alice Dreger, Hermaphrodite Monger’).”

Dreger AD, Chase C, Sousa A, Gruppuso PA, Frader, J (2005). Changing the nomenclature/taxonomy for intersex: a scientific and clinical rationale. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism, 18. 729-733. Dreger’s original proposal was “disorders of sex differentiation,” later revised to “disorders of sex development.”

Dreger A (2006a). What are Disorders of Sex Development? Quoted by April Herndon on blog, 14 March 2006.

See citation at Brömdal A (2006). Intersex - A challenge for human rights and citizenship rights (PDF), p. 109.
[now removed, copy preserved at Fact Sheet on DSD activism (with footnotes) at OII]

We realize, of course, that any terminology including the word “disorder” can be construed as pejorative. We’d also like to emphasize that we use the abbreviated form of DSD whenever possible. Explaining why this is important, Alice Dreger writes, “we find that, when accompanied by an explanation of what we mean, DSD isn’t terribly stigmatizing. And an important point: the acronym DSD is very useful—and thus, the acronym should be favored over the spelled-out term— because as an abbreviation we don’t focus on ‘disorder’.” We explain what we mean, and then use the term “DSDs.” Thus, we recognize that this is not a perfect term, but we hope ISNA’s supporters and allies will understand that it’s helping us enact real change in medical care.

Dreger A (2006b). Talking about what matters.

Dreger A (2006c). Consortium on Disorders of Sex Development.

Dreger A (2006d).  Get thee to a hospital. 14 August 2006

Dreger A (2006e). The blog I write in fear. 13 May 2006

Dreger A (2006f). A follow-up on my encounter with Andrea James. 7 June 2006

Dreger A (2006g) DSD terminology. 1 October 2006. Full letter at Appendix 2.

Dreger A (2007, in press) The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Ensler E, Tennyson J (2005). Vagina Warriors. Bulfinch Press.

FAIR: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (2005). New York Times Suggests Bisexuals Are "Lying:" Paper fails to disclose study author's controversial history. 8 July 2005.

GLAAD: Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (2005). New York Times Promotes Bisexual Stereotypes in "Straight, Gay or Lying?"

Guillot V (2006). We in France are deeply concerned about the DSD guidelines and the very terminology. Organisation Internationale des Intersexués.

Hinkle C (2006). Personal email correspondence to the author, 27 May 2006.

James A (1998). Personal email correspondence to Anne Lawrence. 9 November 1998. Full letter at Appendix 1.

James A (2003). The Anne Who Would Be Queen.

James A (2004). A defining moment in our history: Examining disease models of gender identity. Transgender Tapestry, Fall 2006, 110:pp. 18-23. Originally published September 2004.

Lamarre C (2006). Grosses bises solidaires! Organisation Internationale des Intersexués.

Laramée J-C (2006). The title of Dreger’s blog entry says it all: Talking about What Matters. Organisation Internationale des Intersexués

Lawrence (1998). "Men trapped in men's bodies:" An Introduction to the Concept of Autogynephilia. annelawrence. com
[original now removed]

Nagant E (2006). We are not “disorders” ! Organisation Internationale des Intersexués

NGLTF: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2005). Task Force denounces New York Times story promoting bisexual stereotypes. 11 July 2005

O'Brien M (2006) Commentary. Organisation Internationale des Intersexués

OII: Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (2006). Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development.

Roughgarden, J. (2003, April 25). Psychology lecture lacks sensitivity to sexual orientation. The Stanford Daily.

Siedlberg S (2006). The Genuine Question. Organisation Internationale des Intersexués

Springer (2007) Archives of Sexual Behavior Editorial Board

State of Washington Department of Health (1997). Documentation in Anne A. Lawrence investigation, Case Number 97-05-0042MD.

Thomas A (2005). Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She. HBO.

Wilson R (2004, Dec. 10). Northwestern U. will not reveal results of investigation into sex researcher. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. 10.

Appendix 1: 1998 letter from me to Anne Lawrence

Since her first letter to me on May 16, 2006, Dreger has been keen to label me an “autogynophile” [sic]. Though I explained her misreading to her in my detailed response that day, she continues to distort a phrase from a 1998 letter in order to make that assertion.

Parts in purple were quoted by Dreger (Dreger 2007). Section in bold is where Dreger selectively quotes and paraphrases in order to avoid using my appositional term “autoandrophobia” as explained in my detailed response. See additional information below the text of the letter.

Note also that by ending the first quotation where she does, Dreger implies I’m saying the paper backs up my own experiences, rather than backs up my experiences reading letters from correspondents.

From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, November 09, 1998 6:26 PM
Subject: Excellent paper!

Hi Anne--

I have a couple of more weeks to recover at home from my 10/28 labiaplasty and implant repositioning, and my 11/2 chin revision. It's given me some time to look at sites I haven't seen in a while, and to work on my own.

I just read your autogynephilia paper and found it to be excellent, as expected. I'm sure you've gotten quite an array of responses, since TSs are extremely reluctant to be categorized and defined by others. A definition is inherently inclusive or exclusive, and there's always going to be someone who doesn't feel they belong in or out of a definition.

I got body slammed by the usual suspects in 1996 for recommending a Blanchard book. Sure, he's pretty much the Antichrist to the surgery-on-demand folks, and I've heard some horror stories about the institute he runs that justify the nickname "Jurassic Clarke." However, I found many of his observations to be quite valid, even brilliant, especially in distinguishing early- and late- transitioning TS patterns of thought and behavior. I don't buy into all of Freud, either, but that certainly doesn't invalidate his many brilliant insights.

Now that I have received a lot of letters from TSs, I have found that your paper backs up my own experiences. One correspondent used a phrase I found most interesting. She had been lamenting her inability to pass in public and asked for advice. When I gave her a number of tips, she had excuses for why none would work. Normally, I write these people off as a waste of my time, but in this case I pressed her about what would really make her happy, and what she meant by passing.

Her response was "I want to be able to pass in the nude after surgery."  I wrote, "Passing in the nude is great and everything-- I certainly want that, too. But the opportunities for nudity in my life are extremely rare-- about .1% of the time."

I pressed further and realized what she seemed to mean. She did not really care about passing in public as much as she did passing in private. She seemed to want to admire herself in the mirror as female. This was her definition of passing. To her, she could look past all the other unpassable parts and zero in on her notion of what true passing meant-- having a vagina. She could stare at her vagina and the rest wouldn't matter. Classic anatomic autogynephilia, no?

She knew that her masculinity would be a barrier to standard intimate nude situations-- say, a locker room or a sexual relationship. That wasn't what it was about to her. It was about admiring herself, the way crossdressers masturbate while looking at themselves in a mirror.

You might say she desired passing in the pubic sphere instead of the public one... ;)


Now, I'd like to throw out a thought for you to ponder. I am obsessed with my appearance, and I characterized it to you as similar to the way an anorexic sees herself as fat. I still am horrified and dismayed to see traces of masculinity when I look at images of myself.

Would this be "autoandrophobia," perhaps?

I have noticed in most TSs, and in "surgery addicts" especially, a certain sort of self-loathing, a drive to efface every shred of masculinity. While I readily admit to my own autogynephilia, I would contend that my own drives toward feminization seem to have a component pushing me from the opposite direction as well.

Now, if you think you've caught a lot of shit about autogynephilia, just imagine what would happen if I used "TS" and "self-loathing" in the same sentence! Nonetheless, I see my own transsexual feelings paralleled in the words of people with other body dysphorias. Obviously, I'd need to think this through pretty seriously before I'd say anything for all to read, but your paper helped me form a word for that part of my own drive toward feminization.


Finally, I have decided that my true contribution to the collected body of TG knowledge is to concentrate on the oft-neglected topic of consumer issues. To that end, I will be putting up what I believe will be the definitive resource on financing transition in a week or two. I'll let you know when it's ready.

Again, excellent thinking, and I look forward to reading more.

Take care,

Below, I have reproduced one passage as Dreger altered it for her upcoming paper.


Dreger alters this with italics for emphasis.


Dreger inserts this bracketed paraphrase
to avoid my term "autoandrophobia"
from just before the passage she uses.
Distorting decontextualized comments
is a favorite tactic of this self-styled
"hermaphrodite monger."

Dreger uses every trick in her book to distort and obfuscate, despite my lengthy explanation. This is part of the “gotcha” mentality of professional trolls like Dreger, a mindset which emerged from USENET and blogs and is now infecting academic discourse.

Appendix 2: 2006 letter from Alice Dreger to intersex activists

From: "Alice Dreger, Ph.D."
Subject: DSD terminology
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2006 09:58:56 -0400


I hope your intersex rights work is going well as I write. As always, I personally appreciate what you're doing to help build a better world for intersex children and adults.

I see that Curtis Hinkle is up to his usual behavior, this time attacking me personally about the DSD terminology. I want you to know one thing, and then to make a suggestion.

The thing I want you to know is that I pissed off trans activist Andrea James (see, and as a result she decided she would try to attack me via attacking the DSD terminology. She told me this explicitly in an email on June 1, 2006. I quote: "I could care less about your kid and your sense of breeder entitlement. I am, however, going to do what I can to discredit your lame-ass DSD model. At least you got that part right."

I also quote here from her email of May 27, 2006: "DSD is going to be your merm and ferm. You have made a spectacular misstep with this disease model, though still not as inept as Bailey’s. Can’t wait till you and DSD are discredited by intersex activists (e.g., the world outside ISNA) and top-tier ethicists (e.g., not you) looking at the bigger picture. Your one-issue advocacy is selling out a larger movement for the sake of expediency. Bad move, mommy."

So besides sending me threats about my son, James has opted to team up with Curtis to achieve her aims. Hence her links to Curtis's work on her general-attack site.

I want you to know this because I think a lot of intersex people are in danger of having their progressive energies sucked up by an offshoot of James's attempts to irritate and discredit me, which are offshoots of her attempts to ruin other people.

That said, I do think it is definitely worth having productive discussions about the DSD terminology and when it is worth using, and I'm glad people are taking about it.

So my suggestion is this: When you're engaged in discussions about this, PLEASE do not waste time discussing what I think or what I have said or anything else about me. Focus on what matters -- intersex people and their well-being. It doesn't matter what I think or say, except insofar as perhaps some people wish to know how I see the debate. What matters is how well people with intersex are.

So please try to keep the discussion focused on what really matters, and that way James won't be harming the intersex community the way she has so tragically harmed the transgender community. (You won't know about a lot of that harm, but I do, because since I spoke up, many trans people have written to me to tell me what she's done to them. They are much too afraid--for obvious reasons--to speak publicly about what she's done to them.)

As I talked about in my recent blog on the terminology (, I would really like to see people try to direct their writing, speaking, and thinking energies towards engagement with those with real power. That is not Curtis Hinkle, or for that matter most other intersex activists, including me. That is the doctors and the parents who need our help understanding how to make things better and better. That's why I spend the vast majority of my energy doing that kind of engagement and I encourage you to do the same, even as people whack at you (or your friends and allies) and try to distract you from your real work that I know you do so incredibly well--peer-support work, human rights work, educational work, medical reform work.

Please feel free to share this email with whomever you wish. I also welcome those of you who have my DSD resignation letter to go ahead and leak the rest of it; there's nothing in there or any of the rest of my work that I'm not proud of. Indeed, I'll attach the letter here so you all have the whole of it.

It has been my great privilege and honor to be so well advised and supported and led by you and your colleagues.

Best wishes,

Alice Dreger, Ph.D.
Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

International responses to Dreger's rumor-mongering (e.g. Siedlberg 2006, O'Brien 2006, Laramée 2006, Guillot 2006, Lamarre 2006, Nagant 2006, Baechler 2006) suggest that her attempt to blame me for this controversy is being ignored. Dreger's attempts to push her promotional materials and "consensus statements" about DSD are going to be challenged by farsighted activists who are finally speaking for themselves.