Man Would be Queen
Autogynephilia & the Michael Bailey controversy
Bailey resigns as chair of psychology at Northwestern University!
In the Lambda Literary Foundation's decision to remove The Man Who Would be Queen - The Science of Gender Bending from their finalists list in the transgender category executive director Jim Marks said, "The change was prompted by a request from the panel of judges that is reading all the finalists in the transgender category, which said the book was not appropriate for the category." He continued, "This has been a difficult and humbling experience for the foundation. Weve never before had a case in which a book whose author and publisher both affirm their support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual rights has been opposed by those who say its content in fact is antithetical to those rights."
The Man Who Would be Queen is not science, even though its title states, The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. It is anecdotal information supporting Ray Blanchard's autogynephilia theory. Bailey's book has no surveys, no data tables, no statistics, no footnotes. No references are offered to primary literature either. Six transgendered people are mentioned by name (pseudonym). Bailey did not take detailed and rigorous notes when interviewing these subjects and relies on his recollection of their meetings. This sample is highly non-representative because the women he interviewed he met while "cruising" (p. 141) in "the Baton, Chicago's premier female impersonator club,'' (p. 186) leading to an occupational and socio-economic bias.
The controversy is over Bailey's two 'definitions' of transsexuals: autogynephiliacs and homosexual transsexuals.
The term, autogynephilia, was first coined in the 80s by Ray Blanchard of the Clarke Institute in Canada. It remained a marginally-accepted, fringe issue until the National Academies Press publication of J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would be Queen. It caused a firestorm of protest in the trans community because of Bailey's claim that there are two types of transsexuals: autogynephilic transsexual, that Bailey's describes are people with an "erotic obsession with the image of themselves as women," and homosexual transsexuals or "extremely feminine gay men." The debate was intensified with the Lambda Literary Foundation's nomination of The Man Who Would be Queen for their 2003 transgender category awards.
The loudest opposition to Bailey and his ideas has been, understandably, from the trans community vs. what appears to be a minority of supporters consisting of some in the queer community, lay-persons and psychologists who have little, or no, experience in gender identity. Dr. Anne Lawrence also supports the autogynephilia model of transsexualism. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Lawrence and the work she's done for the trans community and impugning her reputation (as some do) is not my desire. She has an excellent website including a section devoted to autogynephilia.
Transsexual women are often hesitant to admit a sexual component to their transsexuality, primarily because of the stigma that if you're sexually turned-on by being a woman you're not transsexual, but a transvestite or crossdresser (some who get a sexual kick out of dressing as women). They want to portray themselves, rightly so, as having the core identity of a female, but were born a phenotype male and not just those who find feminization erotic. We should look at the solicited emails on Dr. Lawrence's site from this perspective. I think these are people who felt ashamed, or unwilling, to admit they had a sexual component to their transgenderism and used Lawrence's autogynephilia email page as a place to vent. Many of the reports are from TGs who don't want SRS (sex reassignment surgery) and aren't transsexual, further supporting that Bailey is wrong.
I think they've made the assumption that I'm sexually excited by being a woman, so I must be an autogynephiliac.
When, in fact, they're transsexual women who have a sexual component to their feminization that's peripheral to their core identity as female. Or they're not transsexual at all, instead transgender or a transvestite.
Let's look at Bailey's second "category" of transsexuals: homosexual transsexuals that he defines as "extremely feminine gay men." A homosexual is a man who's sexually attracted to men. He identifies as male and would never think of cutting his penis off. Whereas a MTF transsexual identifies as female and dislikes her male genitalia. The confusion arises as some transsexual women had sex with men while they were still male and may have identified as gay. However, that doesn't negate the fact that the person was inherently transsexual to begin with and went through a gay phase (I went through a similar phase when I thought I was a crossdresser) before transitioning. Also, we need to take into account the soft, smooth skin and the overall erotic female body can be a turn-on, especially when one has been in a body that felt uncomfortable and alien.
The Man who Would be Queen promulgates images of us as sexually-obsessed men who want to be women solely because it's erotic or we're gay men who have sex reassignment surgery to (as Bailey puts it) "have better gay sex with men." It's unfortunate that a degreed psychologist wrote, and the National Academies Press published, these skewed ideas.
Incredibly, some college-level human sexuality courses are using The Man Who Would be Queen as a reference book. That is unfortunate. There's no better way to muddle the distinctions between gays, transvestites and transsexuals than using his book in the classroom.
If you want to read The Man Who Would be Queen please don't contribute to Bailey's coffers by purchasing the book new (its no longer available to read online), borrow or buy it used on eBay or Amazon.
most glaring and repetitive offense committed by Bailey is one of language:
he usually uses the dated psychiatric convention of using biological
sex and anatomy as the point of reference for talking about gender and
sexuality. More and more modern therapists are realizing that to call
a transsexual woman 'he' or 'male' is an insult to our dignity and an
infraction of our right to self-define. Plus, let's be honest, it's
just plain insensitive."