Robin Pinnel on publicizing bigotry

Robin Pinnel is a publicist at Joseph Henry Press, the publishing arm of the National Academies Press. Pinnel is responsible for writing much of the defamatory materials about sexual and gender variance put out by the National Academies Press in support of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey.

Robin Pinnel's work for Bailey:

Gay, Straight or Lying? Science has the answer (21 March 2003)

Pinnel is credited by name in the above "article" about The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. This glorified press release was placed in several queer publications around the time of the book's publication in Spring 2003.

http://glbchat.com/Home/news.asp?articleid=4126

Pinnel message (2 April 2003)

Pinnel sent this out to drum up publicity for Bailey in Atlanta. Bailey eventually just resorted to showing up at Emory University for free (and stinking of booze).

See also Caitlin Antrim's letter to Pinnel.

Attachments:

"controversial ideas" by J. Michael Bailey

controversial ideas [PDF file: requires reader]

"praise" compiled by Ann Merchant

praise [PDF file: requires reader]

"timeline" by Robin Pinnel

timeline [PDF file: requires reader]

Press release (28 April 2003)

See also Lynn Conway's commentary on this defamation.

Advocate advertisement (10 June 2003)

National Academies Press website (retrieved June 2003)

web link: NAP site

open letter [pdf]

press release [pdf]

Pinnel is probably placing this sad little classified in gay mags:

The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by Michael Bailey. "Recommended," Out Magazine.Available at www.jhpress.org and bookstores.

April Fool's in black and blue

From the Selective Quoting Dept.: Publisher's Weekly ran the following review on April 1, 2003. The black part is the selective quotation Bailey and friends use, Pinnel wisely avoids the critical blue part.

"An associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, Bailey writes with assuredness that often makes difficult, abstract material-the relationship between sexual orientation and gender affect, the origins of homosexuality and the theoretical basis of how we discuss sexuality-comprehensible. He also, especially in his portraits of the women and men he writes about, displays a deep empathy that is frequently missing from scientific studies of sexuality. But Bailey's scope is so broad that when he gets down to pivotal constructs, as in detailing the data of scientific studies such as Richard Green's about "feminine boys" or Dean Hamer's work on the so-called "gay gene," the material is vague, and not cohesive. Bailey tends towards overreaching, unsupported generalizations, such his claim that "regardless of marital laws there will always be fewer gay men who are romantically attached" or that the African-American community is "a relatively anti-gay ethnic minority." Add to this the debatable supposition that innate "masculine" and "feminine" traits, in the most general sense of the words, decidedly exist, and his account as a whole loses force." -- Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Source

Biographical information

Robin Pinnel is a University of Virginia graduate with a Bachelor's in English, and the former Daily Cavalier student newspaper editor. While there, Pinnel had at least one class with Rita Felski, who has contributed the introduction to Bland & Doan's important historical critique of "sexology." Pinnel used to work for a literary agent/lawyer called Gail Ross (who does a lot of nonfiction books out of DC). She has an MA in writing from Johns Hopkins.

She was scheduled to appear at the same 2003 Lambda Literary Foundation event in Provincetown which listed Bailey:

(THE INFLUENCE OF transgender WRITING ON LESBIAN AND GAY LITERATURE –
Gail Leondar Wright, Moderator; Toni Amato, J. Michael Bailey, Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, Gordene McKenzie, Nancy Nangeroni, Riki Wilchins )

[I contacted Gail Leondar-Wright, who stated this was cleared up and Bailey was disinvited.]

I suspect one of two things happened regarding Robin Pinnel's decision to link herself with Bailey for the rest of her literary career:

Generous version:

Maybe Pinnel was forced to promote a book that may or may not match up with her political beliefs. Someone unfamiliar with the issues who ended up on the wrong side of the argument. Several Bailey reviewers fall into this category.

Jaded version:

Robin Pinnel might be a total slimeball or old schooler herself with an anti-trans axe to grind. She is attending Johns Hopkins, after all. Not to mention that even my former colleagues in advertising all thought PR people were bottom-feeders who drop off their morals and values at the reception desk every morning. Her coworker, editor Stephen Mautner, isn't getting back to me any more as of August 2003.

Robin Pinnel's work below kept getting cranked out long after it was clear that the book was problematic. Still, it may be a case where she simply set aside her morals long enough to pick up a check for her role in marginalizing women in in the transgender community.

Contact information

"We make mistakes. And when we make those mistakes, we try and correct them the best we can. With every letter we receive, we learn something new about responsible reporting. And we pass that piece of knowledge to those who come after us. That is why we grow stronger every year. Feedback is key in our business."

-- Robin Pinnel in 1998

Feel free to contact Robin and share your feedback about her handiwork!

Robin Pinnel, Publicist
National Academies Press
Publicity Department
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
email: rpinnel@nas.edu
phone: (202) 334-1902
fax: (202) 334-2793

Phone: 202.213.7520
rpinnel@yahoo.com

Further reading

How PR flacks contribute to the rash of bad science reporting:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/story/0,12980,1564369,00.html