Correspondence on Bailey with Northwestern

I sent the following letter to William Banis, Northwestern University Vice President for Student Affairs, on 16 June 2003:

Dear Mr. Banis:

I run a website focusing on practical advice and consumer information for college-aged transsexual women called tsroadmap.com.

I’m writing because I have grave concerns regarding the activities of Dr. J. Michael Bailey of your Psychology Department, particularly the effect his recent statements regarding transsexual women could have on undergraduates. Dr. Bailey claims we are similar to the serial killer in 'Silence of the Lambs' and claims we may be biologically predisposed to work as “strippers and prostitutes.” Until recently these statements were housed on Northwestern web space. I suppose this sort of outrageous defamation falls under academic freedom, but I fear his bigotry will have a deleterious effect on young transgender people on your campus.

Many women depicted in Dr. Bailey’s recent book are very upset with what they see as his betrayal and misrepresentation after meeting him in a therapeutic or social setting. I lived in Chicago for 15 years, and I have advised young women at NU to avoid Dr. Bailey at all costs, ever since I learned of his deep-seated prejudices toward our community. I also fear Dr. Bailey has potential access to sensitive information regarding transgender students at Northwestern.

Dr. Bailey’s characterization of women in our community as extremely gay men or males with a fetish could be damaging to their mental health, and it flies in the face of cutting-edge hard science by medical professionals renowned as experts on our condition. This fringe “soft science” theory appears to have infected much of the psychology department, including several people involved in your Safe Space program.

I wanted to alert you to this very serious problem, and to ask everyone at NU to consider advising any transgender students to contact a designated liaison on campus before outing themselves to Dr. Bailey or others in the Psychology Department. I believe that such contact could be detrimental to students’ plans for transition and could hinder attempts to keep their transgender status private.

Perhaps a dedicated Northwestern web page on transgender issues would be useful. There has been a staggering increase in young people who no longer have to choose between college or transition-related expenses, and this emerging group, while small, is a very vulnerable student population. Dr. Bailey has been hard at work revamping his faculty site this month to capitalize on the “controversy” he hopes to use as a marketing tool. The pathologizing of transgender people is in its last gasps, but Dr. Bailey hopes to keep us pathologized for now, like the last holdouts in 1973, when homosexuality was finally depathologized by his colleagues.

I would be more than happy to provide a complete list of resources for young transsexuals, including resources created by numerous undergraduates and recent college graduates. I also have a full list of Evanston and Chicago area resources I can provide.

If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them.

Copies to:

Kate Rigot: k-rigot@northwestern.edu
Marcia Mahoney: m-mahoney5@northwestern.edu
Leslie DeMonte: l-demonte@northwestern.edu
Gay and Lesbian University Union: gluu@northwestern.edu
Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance (BGALA): bgala@northwestern.edu
Joan Linsenmeier: j-linsenmeier@northwestern.edu
Theresa Cropper, Dean of Students: tcropper@northwestern.edu
William J Banis: w-banis@northwestern.edu
Mary K Desler: m-desler@northwestern.edu
Gregg A Kindle: g-kindle@northwestern.edu
Mary Goldenberg: m-goldenberg@northwestern.edu