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07 July 2008

J. Michael Bailey (1957 - ) professor of psychology.

From Lubbock, Texas, Bailey did a BA in mathematics at Washington University in St Louis in 1979, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Texas in Austin in 1989. His thesis was on the biological causes of homosexuality.

He became a professor at Northwestern University, Illinois, the same year. While he is a professor of psychology, he is not a licensed psychologist in the State of Illinois. He was married until a divorce in 1996, and has two children. Also apparently he has a sexual interest in beautiful transsexuals, and spends a lot of time in gay bars.

He worked on studies of twins and sexual orientation, although his studies were criticized for using a self-selected sample. He found that 52% of the identical twins of homosexual men are also gay, compared to 22% of fraternal twins and 9% of other brothers. He has described homosexuality as an evolutionary mistake, a developmental error.

He was a thesis advisor for Anne Lawrence’s PhD at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality at San Francisco, which she received in 2001. She is self-professed autogynephile whose writing style and opinions are similar to those in Bailey's book. Curtis Hinkle proposes that maybe Lawrence was a ghost-writer for the transsexual part of Bailey's book.

The Bailey book is The Man Who Would Be Queen, 2003, in which he argues that male homosexuality is innate (=hereditary + prenatal environment), and presents transsexuality in the two forms argued for by Ray Blanchard, and endorsed by Lawrence, that is: (a) extreme homosexuality, with early transition and frequently living by prostitution (b) autogynephilia, a fetishistic obsession with the self as female, late transition and heterosexual marriage prior to transition. He kept the disparagements in Blanchard’s terminology, and reinforced them with the title of and the image on the front cover of his book. Like Blanchard he ignores trans men.

His sample was of only six transsexuals, all found in the same gay bar. Although he is not a licensed psychologist he wrote approval letters so that they could get gender surgery. Two of them have accused him of having sex with them without making it clear that they were research subjects. Anjelica Kieltyka is presented in the book as a typical autogynephile, a description that she rejects. She filed a formal complaint that he ignored her reactions to an early draft of what he wrote about her.

His book was initially proposed as a finalist for a transgender Lambda Literary prize, but this created such an outcry, including thousands of petition signatures in just a few days, that the nomination was withdrawn. He has been strongly criticized by such transsexual academics as Lynn Conway, Joan Roughgarden, Ben Barres, Barbara Nash and Dierdre McCloskey who sent a joint letter to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health(WPATH) (previously HBIGDA=Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association) and got a supportive answer. This led to Ray Blanchard’s resignation from WPATH. Lynn Conway and Andrea James have devoted parts of their websites to a refutation of the Blanchard-Bailey position. A formal investigation by Northwestern University cleared him, but he also stepped down as Chair of the Psychology Department.

In 2005 he was the senior author of a study, based on penile plethysmograph testing, that denied the existence of bisexuality in males except as a subjective experience. At the same time he regards all females as potentially bisexual. His response to actual male bisexuals is the same one that he has to transsexuals who feel that they do not fit into his two categories: he accuses them of lying.

In 2006 he suggested that aborting a fetus after fetal screening for sexual orientation is morally acceptable as it furthers the parents’ freedom.

In 2007 his colleague at Northwestern, Alice Dreger, wrote a 60-page history of the controversy, that has itself become controversial in that she found Bailey to be “basically blameless”.

In 2012 there was a media fracas after he included a live sex demonstration in his class.

*Not the UK actor, nor the jazz critic.

Does this binary categorization have to be inevitably disparaging in its terminology and attitude. Here is an essay by a transgender person who has attempted to rewrite it in more friendly terms: Alice Novic.

Curtis Hinkle's proposal that Lawrence (co)wrote the third section of the book is intriguing. More likely however is that Bailey just took from her thesis. He would not be the first professor to use the work of his graduate students.

Basically Bailey went looking for a fight, and he found one.

Lets see: we have a soi-disant heterosexual who hangs out in gay bars, and who denies the existence of male bisexuals. Indeed.

When someone rejects those giving counter evidence as 'liars', then that someone is probably wrong.

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