A Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence clearinghouse
This clearinghouse explores varying viewpoints about The
Man Who Would Be Queen and the ideology that informs the work of J.
Michael Bailey, Ray Blanchard, and
This clearinghouse was created in April 2003 to document materials in this controversy as they became available. Though much of it remains in an unsynthesized format, pages about key people and concepts have been updated in some cases. Due to renewed interest in the topic following attacks on Bailey's critics by his coworker Alice Dreger, links and descriptions are being updated throughout.
For a chronological
overview of this matter, please see the timeline
of events compiled by Professor
history: revised 26 June 2008
In March 2003, J. Michael Bailey,
then Chair of the Psychology Department at Northwestern
University, published The
Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.
Despite having science in the title and being promoted as original
research, many consider the book scientifically
unsound and deeply biased. It describes gender variance in metaphors of
disease and impairment
that are an extension of Bailey's
belief that homosexuality is an evolutionary mistake and a developmental
error. Bailey's writings on homosexual eugenics and his belief that male bisexuals are liars echo his thinking on trans issues as well.
Bailey's book is based on an obscure and outdated model of gender variance created by Ray Blanchard of Toronto's notorious Clarke Institute.
Bailey's and Blanchard's models contradict cutting-edge research by renowned
experts on causes and motivations of those who express gender variance.
Initial positive spin created by Joseph
Henry Press publicist Robin Pinnel
and a handful of Bailey supporters
(primarily sexologist Anne Lawrence and
members of a conservative-run eugenics
thinktank) quickly gave way to a deluge of negative responses by a wide
range of concerned communities, starting with academics,
notably those responding to Bailey's lectures
exploiting gender-variant children. For a sense of the size and global scope
of the protest, a petition against the book garnered over 1,300
signatures from 35 countries in just its first few days. Given our percentage
of the population, this would be equivalent to obtaining millions of signatures
in a few days from the general population.
Also speaking out were those of us working to stop defamation of trans people
in the media,
and even the research
subjects portrayed in Baileys book. These voices were later joined
by those from the gay, bisexual, transgender,
communities. In early 2004, hate group monitor Southern
Poverty Law Center featured Bailey's and Blanchard's ties to neo-eugenicists and right-wing journalists.
These early negative reviews were later echoed by many of Baileys
own peers in sex research, as well as by clinical
experts on transsexualism. In front of large crowds of peers, Kinsey Institute Director John Bancroft M.D. said the
book was "not science," and HBIGDA
President Dr. Eli Coleman said it was "bad
In the wake of this, book
sales tanked, Bailey has vacated his position as an officer of the International
Academy of Sex Research and was subject of a full
investigation by Northwestern University for failure to get informed consent.
In November 2003, Bailey's mentor Ray Blanchard
finally resigned from HBIGDA after their officers
wrote to Northwestern expressing concerns, suggesting that Blanchard will go
down in history as what George Rekers is to homosexuality: the old-school holdout
who outlived his time.
Normally, a book this scientifically unsound and tainted with charges of academic
misconduct, practicing without
a license, fabricating
data, and sex
with a research subject would not even be dignified with a response by many
involved, but this book somehow got published through the National
Academies Press, online via the NAP website and in print through their Joseph
Henry Press unit, which specializes in science books for popular audiences.
Executive Editor Stephen Mautner claimed
in a 24 June 2003 letter that the book was subjected to scientific review
and was reviewed as a well-crafted and responsible work. Mautner
refers to Bailey as a scientist who follows a legitimate avenue
of scholarship and research. In the wake of a full investigation into the systemic failures at the National Academies, they continue to remain silent about their culpability.
In November 2004, Northwestern University reported that Bailey
resigned as Psychology Department Chair and that Northwestern was taking
action against Bailey based on their findings. In February 2006, the online version Bailey's book was quietly removed from the National Academies Press website.
Bailey's lurid and unscientific portrayal is easily disproven by successful
trans women and men
around the world leading joyous and productive lives after transition.
Discrediting Bailey was the easy part. Framing the theoretical issues involved is the profoundly difficult part of this controversy. The Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence model of gender variance raises several issues regarding reproduction, assimilation, biological determinism, and what it means for trans people and society at large.
Please note that many of the concepts and terms discussed in the following
articles are controversial and/or inconclusive. They give a
sense of the issues at hand, and are not definitive statements on any particular
vs. the border patrol of sex and sexuality
This short essay seeks to frame the debate sparked by this book.
Causes of transsexualism: Current
This position paper by Milton Diamond, Ph.D. and 20 other renowned sex
researchers summarizes the latest scientific research.
True Selves: An introduction to
motivations for transition
Dr. Mildred Brown has observed in her clinical practice that some people
seeking feminization do so for reasons other than the traditional motivation,
and questions whether these reasons are "transsexual" in the clinical
Bailey's words and ideology
Homosexuality and gender variance represent an "evolutionary mistake"
and "developmental error," according to Bailey's ideology. This
disease model of these traits has led him to "gay gene" and "gay
germ" hypotheses about causation. This section explores Bailey's links
to the eugenics movement. It includes extensive quotations from his
work and includes a chart of "usual suspects" who are part of
This site is designed to complement the concurrent Investigative
Report by Lynn Conway. Our research into how this book got published and
promoted focuses on the following six entities.
Joseph Henry Press and the National
Joseph Henry Press published this book under the auspices of the National
Academies. This section documents the people accountable for this decision.
J. Michael Bailey's employer. Northwestern faculty, administration, and
students have had a range of responses to Bailey's work and the charges
leveled against him. This section documents these reactions.
Clarke Institute (Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health)
This Toronto mental institution is home base for most of Bailey's collaborators
and is heavily involved in the North American eugenics movement. It is widely
considered by gender-variant people and experts who work with them as out
of touch and regressive.
Human Biodiversity Institute
This conservative-run eugenics think tank hopes to usher in "The Age
of Galton." Francis Galton coined the term "eugenics," and
this group represents a revival of the eugenics movement.
In March 2004, Amazon removed 35 customer reviews of Bailey's book, all
but one of which gave it the worst review possible. This had a net effect
of raising his average rating a full point and giving the wrong impression
that opposition to the book was evenly divided. Since that time, one or two anonymous trolls continue to add shill reviews, which are pretty easy to spot.
Lambda Literary Foundation
This group nominated Bailey for an award in February 2004, which led to
immediate protests. The nomination was revoked in March 2004, the Director was ousted in 2005, and the site is currently offline.
Scientific criticism and commentary
A selection of papers by academics and other experts.
The trans community has mobilized around this matter, with a wide variety
of letters, published commentaries, petitions, etc.
Published commentaries on Bailey
A selection of comments from people concerned about this book and its message.
Commentaries on Anne Lawrence
Anne Lawrence is the chief apologist and collaborator with Bailey and Blanchard.
Lawrence very strongly identifies as having a sex-fueled mental illness invented
by Ray Blanchard. Lawrence's career and life are now spent promoting this
Alice Dreger's attacks on critics of J. Michael Bailey
In 2006, Bailey's coworker Alice Dreger at Northwestern University began an ongoing backlash against the populist response to Bailey's book, culminating in a one-sided hatchet job on key critics of Bailey.
A defining moment in our history:
examining disease models of gender variance
LINK: My GenderTalk
interview on "A defining moment"
Gender identity and expression take on different meanings within different
systems of thought. Because medical technologies are available to assist
in the somatic expression of these identities, several medicalized disease
models of the phenomena have developed. This article examines three disease
models as typically applied to those who seek feminization:
Psychosexual pathology (Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence [BBL] model)
The author argues that the BBL model is the least scientific and most
stigmatizing, tracing its roots to the eugenics movement of the 19th century.
Psychopathology (gender identity disorder [GID] model)
The GID model is currently considered legitimate within psychological
literature and is a required diagnosis to receive access to trans health
services in many places. The author reviews several problems with mental
illness models, including childhood gender nonconformity and
transvestic fetishism, two other mental disorders
currently considered legitimate diagnoses. The author makes several analogies,
asking readers to consider whether racial nonconformity or
religious identity disorder seem legitimate as well.
Pathology (birth defect model)
This third metaphor of impairment describes a physical disorder rather
than a mental one. The order implied by positioning these
traits and behaviors as diseases reinforces heteronormative hierarchies.
These models use scientific-sounding terminology to reinforce the social
belief that the purpose or function of sex and
sexuality is procreation. This leads to an examination of historic problems
with anatomical thresholds for determining sex, and parallels with other
bioethical debates about technologies that disrupt the natural
order of procreative sexuality. The author suggests this is a phenomenon
that is stigmatized in many cultures, and makes some suggestions for ways
to consider it independently from models of sin or disease.
Introduction to taxonomies and
This section looks at various models of gender variance and the implications
of those models.
Some funny parodies, cartoons, and essays about this matter. I'm sure you
need it by now.