It is clear from the historical record that many people reacted negatively to TMWWBQ before (or whether) they had even read it and, in her initial email about the book to Andrea James, Lynn Conway revealed that to have been the case with her, too. Conway—who would essentially become the architect-in-chief of the backlash—first sounded the alarm about TMWWBQ to James on April 10, 2003:
I just got an alert about J. Michael Bailey’s new book. It’s just been published and of all places it’s co-published by the National Academies Press, which gives it the apparent stamp of authority as “science” [….] As you may know, Bailey is the psychologist who promotes the “two-type” theory of transsexualism [….] Anyways—not that there is much we can do about this—but we should probably read his book sometime and be prepared to shoot down as best we can his weird characterizations of us all. (Conway, 2004a)
Why were people such as Conway so sure Bailey’s book spelled trouble? Surely, the cover and the title had something to do with it, as did their longstanding rejection of Blanchard’s theory. The fact that the book was a popularization directed at the masses—and not an obscure journal article—and that it had the imprimatur of the National Academy of Sciences reasonably added to the sense that it could have a substantial impact on how people would think about MTF transsexuals. In that initial email alert to James, Conway guessed, “Sadly, his book will probably become popular with people who ‘want to understand us’, and will seem sort of ‘empathetic’ towards us, but if it is at all like his past writings, it will treat us all as rather pathetic objects of study—and of course he calls us all ‘transsexual men [sic]’” (Conway, 2004a).
In addition to all these concerns, I think it must also be the case that the extraordinarily strong reaction to TMWWBQ had something to do with trans activists’ knowledge of the long history of oppression against trans people—a history that has included criminalization, involuntary committal to mental institutions (as McCloskey learned firsthand [McCloskey, 1999]), denial of basic rights, active discrimination in housing and employment (as Conway learned firsthand [Hiltzik, 2000]), relentless harassment, mockery, and, not so infrequently, brutal assault and murder. And not just the murder of trans people themselves, but of their loved ones, too; the boyfriend of Andrea James’s close professional collaborator, Calpernia Addams, was murdered when his fellow soldiers found out his girlfriend was transsexual (France, 2000). My own experience suggests that there isn’t a single trans person who, when asked, can’t immediately recall instances of being concerned for her or his personal safety, job, lover, or family. Add to this the sense among many trans people that they have had their identities unnecessarily medicalized and pathologized, and the sense among many trans activists that they have been denied sympathy from and alliance with other queer rights leaders and feminists. (It’s not uncommon to hear trans critics of Bailey’s book liken it to Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire, a book which accused transsexuals of undermining women’s rights and actively harming women with their supposed naive adherence to sexist ideas about what it means to be a woman [Raymond, 1979].) Given all this, it is not too surprising that people such as Conway would have been—as her early emails suggest—on high alert for possible new threats.
Yet, even with an understanding of this backdrop, it can be hard to fathom how the backlash against Bailey’s book could have reached the proportions it did. Several people have remarked to me that the controversy over TMWWBQ ultimately amounted to “a tempest in a teapot,” but if that is the case, the teapot Bailey’s detractors constructed grew to the size of a battleship.
There is a remarkable graphic on Andrea James’s “tsroadmap” Website that evidences this. Let me say, before I describe this graphic, that I don’t think this computer-generated image shows what James thinks it shows. She apparently thinks it proves the horrific scope of Bailey’s supposedly anti-trans claims and eugenical desires as revealed through the intensive “investigation” into Bailey that James and Conway co-led. I think the image reveals the depth and breadth the backlash against Bailey’s book took on. Entitled “J. Michael Bailey Connections,” the graphic in question purports to be “a diagram explaining the connections of all of the people in the Bailey–Blanchard–Lawrence investigation”—Bailey, Blanchard, and physician-researcher Anne Lawrence having been lumped together, by this point, by Conway and James as a single, uniformly dangerous beast for their active support of Blanchard’s taxonomy. In the diagram, a stark black background dramatically offsets an elaborate blossom of colored bubbles, each showing some institution or field of inquiry that James apparently believes to be associated (mostly nefariously) with Bailey and his alleged anti-LBGT scheme. The bubbles are color-coded, and a key to the coding is helpfully provided: cyan is used to indicate theories and fields; purple is for universities (no doubt as a tribute to Northwestern University, whose school color is purple and who is the worst of all offenders, judging by the size of its bubble); gold is for government entities; and red is for “sexology trade group[s].” The last category includes the International Academy of Sex Research (IASR), the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the HBIGDA, a group now known as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Names of individuals appear superimposed on their institutions’ bubbles, and the names of all individuals and organizations are awarded font size commensurate with their importance in James’s scheme. Thus, Bailey’s and Kieltyka’s names appear in a larger font, while, for example, the names of Eli Coleman and Walter Bockting (sex researchers at the University of Minnesota) appear in a smaller font (James, n.d.-a).
The central contention of this diagram is that “Bailey’s theories and work as a pop psychologist are heavily informed by a combination of eugenics and sexology, put to work shaping public perception and policy of our community” (James, n.d.-a). The picture is thus presumably meant to capture how overwhelming and socially credentialed the forces against transwomen’s rights seemed to be—how much the cards were stacked in Bailey’s favor. Groups seemingly indicted by association with Bailey include the Kinsey Institute, the “National Academies of Science [sic],” and the “National Institute [sic] of Health.” The fields of abnormal psychology, criminology, and evolutionary psychology are also called to task, as are a number of prominent sexologists, including, confusingly, several who have publicly criticized Bailey’s book. The chart even features a few far-flung scholars who have told me they have no idea how they ended up in this picture. (I have explained to them the reasoning where I have understood it.) Looking at this graphic, I can see why in 2005—after 2 years of seemingly endless personal attacks, extreme accusations, and investigations—some of Bailey’s sexology friends took to wearing t-shirts reproducing the graphic, as a sort of sympathetic joke. And I admit that, when Bailey showed me one of the t-shirts, seeing the graphic for the first time I assumed it to be a satire made up by an ally to cheer him up. I had no idea the graphic was real—that it was made by James herself and was meant to be serious.
The basic story of the florid explosion that is depicted by James and that I’m going to try to unpack goes like this: Starting in April 2003, Conway and James spearheaded what they saw as a counterattack on Bailey’s book. (I say “what they saw as a counterattack,” because, although he understood his book would offend some people, Bailey never considered his book an attack [Bailey, 2006a].) Conway, James, and a group of allies used the power of the Internet and the press to try to undermine Bailey’s professional reputation, undo any positive praise his book received, and make Bailey as personally miserable as possible. As they felt he had attacked them in the spaces of their public and intimate lives, they would try to do the same to him. Fairly early in the process, Anjelica Kieltyka (identified as “Cher” in TMWWBQ) joined forces with Conway and James. James—and Conway to a lesser extent—tended to take an “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” approach to their work. Thus, anyone who seemed to be on Bailey’s side or refused to fully turn risked being labeled as part of the problem. This meant that even those who did not want to get involved often found it impossible not to be.
As I’ve learned from many hours of conversations with Anjelica Kieltyka, within a few months of the start of the backlash, the relationship between Kieltyka and the leaders of the “investigation” (including, by then, Conway, James, and Deirdre McCloskey) became strained. Kieltyka seems to have grown tired of Conway’s and James’s implicit message that she was to blame for a lot of Bailey’s “abuse” of transwomen in Chicago because she had introduced him to those women and encouraged their interactions. As time wore on, Kieltyka also became personally adept at doing her own Internet searches. As a result of all this, Kieltyka increasingly became convinced that the real problem was much larger than Bailey’s treatment of transsexuals—and thus, much larger than anything she might have enabled (Kieltyka, 2006a, 2006b; see also p.e.c. from Kieltyka to approximately 150 people, subject line “What’s Wrong With This Picture—Scowcroft—Zeder—Conway???”, September 2, 2005). Using clues she picked up from Bailey’s other work—including an article he co-authored explaining how parental selection against offspring carrying a (theoretic) “gay gene” would not be inherently unethical (Greenberg & Bailey, 2001)—Kieltyka became convinced that Bailey was part of a much larger, right-wing, international effort to alienate and even “screen gays out of existence” using emerging biotechnologies, including gesture-recognition software and genetic engineering. She recalls, “I began to see that there was collusion,” and that, while Bailey’s treatment of transsexuals was very important, “the gay issue was more important” (Kieltyka, 2006a).
James’s graphic from October 2003 thus appears to make reference both to the “if you’re not clearly with us, you’re against us” general mentality of the perceived counterattack as well as Kieltyka’s emerging conspiracy theory about Bailey and an international, anti-gay, biotech program. Conway, James, and McCloskey apparently remained relatively cool to Kieltyka’s expansive theory; “they were surprisingly unimpressed” according to Kieltyka, and “it puzzled me but it did not discourage me” (Kieltyka, 2006a). She pressed on, although, to Kieltyka’s dismay, Conway continued to resist pursuing and publicizing it. Eventually, this led Kieltyka to investigate Conway herself, and to become convinced Conway might actually be part and parcel of the international anti-gay program through her computer work; Kieltyka intimates Conway has developed technologies—including gesture-recognition software—that would support and thus profit from it (Kieltyka, 2006a; see also e-mail from Kieltyka to approximately 150 people, subject line “What’s Wrong With This Picture—Scowcroft—Zeder—Conway???”, September 2, 2005). Indeed, she believes there is “some possibility that Bailey was using this technology” in his “gaydar” research work “developed for Bailey by Conway and [Conway’s former student Charles] Cohen” (Kieltyka, 2006a). What she found “finally made [her] think that [Conway] had a major conflict of interest and she was misdirecting this whole ad hoc trans investigation” into Bailey and his book (Kieltyka, 2006a). Kieltyka told me that nowadays she believes Bailey was just the “fall guy” in the scheme, a scheme in which Conway ranks much higher (Kieltyka, 2006a). The fact that Conway now refuses to speak to Kieltyka—and indeed recently accused Kieltyka of stalking her—only solidifies Kieltyka’s sense that Conway is part of something she doesn’t want Kieltyka and others to know about (Kieltyka, 2006a). But Kieltyka has pursued her inquiry, in spite of fear. She even called Cohen, Conway’s former student and collaborator, to ask him about the gesture-recognition software; when Conway found out about this, she accused Kieltyka of trying to “out” her to her former student (Kieltyka, 2006a). (It’s hard to imagine how Conway thinks she isn’t “out,” given that her university-based Website prominently features her cross-sex biography.) All this might sound crazy, petty, or amusing to some, but such a reading would minimize the actual damage done to people in the whole TMWWBQ affair.
So how did the backlash start? Within a couple of days of her first alert to James on April 10, 2003 (quoted above), Conway read the book, and found herself as appalled as she had expected (Conway, 2004a). She immediately understood the text as especially dangerous because it was fully cloaked in the social power of science and academia. Thus, within just a few more days, Conway called to arms as many allies as she could, insisting
this book is the equivalent for the entire transgender community of a Ku Klux Clan [sic] smearing of the entire black community by painting their entire lives and identities as nothing more than the obsessive pursuit of bizarre sex. Imagine what would have happened if the Academy had published a book such as this about African Americans. Their gates would be stormed and the institution would fall. So how can they get away with doing this to us? They can’t, unless we let them get away with it! (April 18, 2003, p.e.c. of Lynn Conway to Christine Burns, Joan Roughgarden, Sarah Weston, Emily Hobbie, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, Donna Rose, Susan Stryker, Jenny Boylan, Jamison Green, Stephen Whittle, and Shannon Minter; available at Conway, 2004a)
Conway officially opened an “investigation” into Bailey and his book and, along with Andrea James, started devoting a substantial amount of energy and Web presence to doing what they could to undermine Bailey and TMWWBQ. (I put “investigation” in quotation marks throughout this essay because, as I show, it quickly moved from an inquiry to something much more proactive.) A number of prominent trans scholars and activists immediately agreed with Conway that Bailey’s book was serious trouble, and Conway rapidly posted many of their negative reactions (or links to them) on her University of Michigan site. Becky Allison, M.D., Joan Roughgarden, Ph.D., Ben Barres, M.D., Ph.D., Christine Beatty, and Christine Burns all provided expressions of disgust and dismay (see Conway, 2003a). Through fortunate timing, Roughgarden was able to attend a lecture by Bailey at her own university, Stanford, on April 23, 2003, and write a scathing review of it for the school newspaper (Roughgarden, 2003). The backlash against the book had thus begun in force.
Notably, not everyone in the LBGT world found TMWWBQ to be the moral and political equivalent of the pro-Ku Klux Klan film-fantasy “Birth of a Nation.” After all, one of the blurbs on the book jacket came from Simon LeVay, a prominent gay scientist, and another from Anne Lawrence, a transwoman and physician (who subscribes to Blanchard’s taxonomy and identifies herself as an autogynephilic woman). A reviewer for Lavender Magazine called the book “a highly readable and well-researched book. […] Detailed, but never dry. A fascinating book” (Boatner, 2003) and a writer for Out Magazine declared the book “recommended reading for anyone interested in the study of gender identity and sexual orientation” (Osborne, 2003). In a review published by the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues—a division of the American Psychological Association—James Cantor, an openly gay sex researcher who works with Blanchard, opined that “Bailey sympathetically portrays these peoples’ experiences[….] Bailey’s respect for the people he describes serves as a role model for others who still struggle to accept and appreciate homosexuality and transsexuality in society” (Cantor, 2003; see also Velasquez, 2004).
Certainly not all LBGT reviewers praised the book; perhaps revealing the continued fractured politics between the “G” and the “T” communities, trans reviewers were much more likely than gay reviewers to criticize the book. Jamison Green (a transman) and Deirdre McCloskey (a transwoman) both panned it (Green, 2003; McCloskey, 2003a). Nevertheless, while the condemnation from Conway and those who joined her would come to suggest a unilateral denouncement of the book by all parties on the LBGT front, the reviews suggest otherwise. Positive reviews by queer people seem only to have made Conway and James angrier. Indeed, James was annoyed enough that she sought out writers of positive reviews and asked them to explain themselves, publishing their responses on her Website (see, e.g., James, 2003b).
Now, it’s clear throughout the record of the backlash against TMWWBQ that what Conway, James, McCloskey, Burns, and other involved transwomen leaders detested and rejected most about Bailey’s book was the idea of autogynephilia. After all, in Bailey’s presentation of Blanchard’s scheme, women such as they might be labeled autogynephilic—individuals with paraphilias whose cross-sex identification was not about gender but eroticism. Yet, I think it is worth noting that historically not all of these transwomen leaders had always rejected every shred of what might reasonably be classified as autogynephilia the way they would come to do post-TMWWBQ. McCloskey strongly denies that “autogynephilia” applies to her (and indeed recently informed my Provost she would sue me and my university if I dared to diagnose her with it [McCloskey to Dreger, two p.e.c.’s, copies to Lawrence Dumas, February 4, 2007]). But Bailey has pointed out that she does discuss in her autobiography a pre-transition arousability to the idea of becoming or being the other sex (Bailey, 2003, pp. 217–218; see also Rodkin, 2003), an admission that is hard to imagine her offering post-TMWWBQ. McCloskey is speaking here of Donald, her pre-transition self, in the third person:
When in 1994 he ran across A Life in High Heels, an autobiography by Holly Woodlawn, one of Andy Warhol’s group, the parts he read and reread and was sexually aroused by were about Woodlawn’s living successfully for months at a time as a woman, not her campiness when presenting as a gay genetic man in a dress. Donald’s preoccupation with gender crossing showed up in an ugly fact about the pornographic magazines he used. There are two kind of crossdressing magazines, those that portray the men in dresses with private parts showing and those that portray them hidden. He could never get aroused by the ones with private parts showing. His fantasy was of complete transformation, not a peek-a-boo, leering masculinity. He wanted what he wanted. (McCloskey, 1999, pp. 18–19; for McCloskey’s response to Bailey’s reading of this, see Rodkin, 2003 and McCloskey, 2003b)
Anne Lawrence also recalls that, before the blow-up over TMWWBQ, one of the other transwomen who would become part of Conway’s expanded “investigation” team admitted to Lawrence that the way she finally achieved orgasm after SRS was to fantasize about forced feminization (Lawrence to Dreger, p.e.c., Nov. 28, 2006; see also Lawrence, 1998). And still a third member of the “investigation” team apparently for years had accepted the label of autogynephilia for herself and others. This was none other than Andrea James.
The evidence for this is unmistakable. In 1998, James had written to Anne Lawrence to congratulate her on her latest paper on autogynephilia and to talk about her own first- and second-hand experiences with autogynephilia. And it wasn’t for lack of understanding the theory of autogynephilia that James wrote so favorably of it in 1998. I quote from that message at some length here, because I think it is important to see how radically James’s attitude changed towards Blanchard, Lawrence, and autogynephilia from 1998 to the time in 2003 when she teamed up with Conway to devote enormous resources to discrediting Bailey, Blanchard, and Lawrence, and anyone else who spoke favorably of autogynephilia as an explanation.
In the email in question, dated November 9, 1998, James wrote to Lawrence with the subject line “Excellent paper!” to say:
I just read your autogynephilia paper [“Men trapped in men’s bodies: An introduction to the concept of autogynephilia” (Lawrence, 1998)] and found it to be excellent, as expected. I’m sure you’ve gotten quite an array of responses, since TSs [i.e., transsexuals] are extremely reluctant to be categorized and defined by others. A definition is inherently inclusive or exclusive, and there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t feel they belong in or out of a definition. I got body slammed by the usual suspects in 1996 for recommending a Blanchard book. Sure, he’s pretty much the Antichrist to the surgery-on-demand folks, and I’ve heard some horror stories about the institute he runs that justify the nickname “Jurassic Clarke.” However, I found many of his observations to be quite valid, even brilliant, especially in distinguishing early- and late-transitioning TS patterns of thought and behavior. I don’t buy into all of Freud, either, but that certainly doesn’t invalidate his many brilliant insights.
James went on to tell Lawrence that, “Now that I have received a lot of letters from TSs, I have found that your paper backs up my own experiences.” She gave some specific examples from MTFs she had known before moving on to talk about herself:
I have noticed in most TSs, and in “surgery addicts” especially, a certain sort of self-loathing, a drive to efface every shred of masculinity. While I readily admit to my own autogynephilia, I would contend that my drives towards feminization seem to have a component pushing me from the opposite direction as well [i.e., away from masculinity]. Now, if you think you’ve caught a lot of shit about autogynephilia, just imagine what would happen if I used “TS” and “self-loathing” in the same sentence! Nonetheless, I see my own transsexual feelings paralleled in the words of people with other body dysphorias. (Andrea James to Anne Lawrence, p.e.c., November 9, 1998; emphasis added)
James signed the message to Lawrence “Take care, Andrea.”
How radically James’s attitudes towards Blanchard, Lawrence, and autogynephilia had shifted from the time of this 1998 communication to the time in 2003 when Conway called James to her side to vigorously deny Bailey’s claim that women such as them are autogynephilic. My point here is not to argue whether James, Conway, or anyone else is “autogynephilic,” but rather to note that the backlash against TMWWBQ became something of a purge where autogynephilia was concerned. Sharp “us versus them” division lines were drawn by Conway, James, McCloskey, and their compatriots, seemingly negating any possibility of productive dialogue about the claims made in the book with regard to possible erotic components of transsexuality.
In keeping with Conway’s simplistic “good versus evil” account of the book and backlash—wherein all true transwomen are non- and anti-autogynephilic (i.e., good) and all pro-autogynephilia researchers are anti-trans (i.e., evil)—Conway’s master “Timeline of the unfolding events in the Bailey investigation” asserts that, as soon as Anjelica Kieltyka received and read a copy of Bailey’s book, on May 3, 2003, Kieltyka “realize[d] he’[d] defamed and outed her” (Conway, 2006a). It is certainly true that, where “Cher’s” identity was concerned, Bailey left a trail of clues quite easy for a close-knit, Internet-savvy community of transwomen to uncover. (I discuss this further in Part 5.) But Kieltyka’s reaction to the book and to the immediate flare-up was more sanguine than Conway represents. Conway’s account has Kieltyka on May 3, 2003, totally distraught over Bailey’s behavior as soon as she saw the book:
Anjelica was shattered. She now realized that Prof. Bailey had intended all along to publish that old version of her story and to use her as his centerpiece “poster child for autogynephilia”. He had merely been humoring her for the past 3 years with “intellectual discussions”, keeping her thinking that he was open to new ideas and open to making revisions in her story.
The very next day, according to Conway,
Anjelica frantically began web searches to learn about the controversy now swirling around the book. She quickly learned that she was being defamed in the transgender community as the “poster child for autogynephilia”, and that Prof. Bailey’s caricature of her in the book was being used to defame other transwomen as being “autogynephiles like Cher”. During her frantic searches, Anjelica came across Andrea James’ and Lynn Conway’s websites. She quickly realized that these sites were the key ones that were coordinating the trans community’s responses to the Bailey book controversy. She immediately e-mailed Andrea and Lynn, pleading for their help in clearing her name. (Conway, 2004b)
Thus, it would appear from Conway’s account as though Kieltyka immediately turned away from Bailey to look to Conway and James as her possible saviors. But Kieltyka’s memory and the historical record suggest otherwise. Certainly, Kieltyka now feels Bailey “did a bait and switch” on her by telling her for years after she saw his first draft that he remained open to her counterarguments, when, in fact, he never seriously doubted Blanchard’s theory or her status as an autogynephile (Kieltyka, 2006f). Kieltyka has told me, “He respected me like the colonist respects the native—he used me. There’s no two ways about it” (Kieltyka, 2006d). But Kieltyka didn’t contact Conway and James because she immediately hated Bailey for what she read in his book and was looking to jump to their side. Rather, she remembers:
AJ [Andrea James] and the rest of them wanted to lynch me, as they did Joan Linsenmeier [a colleague who helped Bailey with the manuscript] and anyone else connected with the book. They were about to hang me. I was told this by people that had frequented the Internet, and that’s why they gave me the link to contact Andrea James and Lynn Conway, because I was going to be hanged by them. (Kieltyka, 2006f)
So it’s true that Kieltyka was trying to save herself, but not at that point by simply rejecting Bailey and teaming up with Conway and James. In fact, in what could only be called a friendly email from Kieltyka to Bailey dated May 16, 2003—nearly two weeks after Kieltyka first read the published book and contacted Conway—Kieltyka spoke warily to Bailey of the likes of Conway. In the email, headed by the joking subject line “Cher’s Guide to Auto…Repair,” Kieltyka wrote to Bailey:
Dear Mike, Thanks for the Cantor Review [i.e., Cantor, 2003]….I followed up on the links to your difficulties with some hysterical women [an apparent reference to Conway and James] […] when you wrote…. “I understand that Roughgarden is slated to review my book for Nature Medicine, and I am certain that this review will be as fair and accurate as her review of my Stanford talk”….I really appreciated the sarcasm…….just wear a bike [i.e., athletic] support to your next book signing or lecture….you can borrow mine, I don’t use it nor need it anymore…. Your friend, in spite of spite, Anjelica, aka Cher (Kieltyka to Bailey, p.e.c., May 16, 2003; ellipses in original unless in brackets)
Kieltyka added a postscript saying she was enclosing “two recent pictures of me in maskon mode”—i.e., she supplied Bailey two more photos of herself crossdressed pre-transition—and she added, “see maskon.com for some missing trans links.” Nearly a month later, Kieltyka wrote to Bailey’s Northwestern psychology colleague Joan Linsenmeier (who was starting to get caught in the backlash) to say “We have both been caught between larger egos with agendas and motivations and axes to grind, (and swing)…. And yet, I have been able to keep my head, while all about are losing theirs and blaming it on Bailey, you, and me” (Kieltyka to Linsenmeier, p.e.c., June 13, 2006; ellipses in original). This hardly sounds like a woman who, right after reading the book in early May, considered herself simply wronged by Bailey and looking to fall into the arms of fellow transwomen who would join her in roundly denouncing Bailey and autogynephilia.
Nor did the women identified as “homosexual transsexuals” in Bailey’s book immediately react with disgust and dismay over the book. Indeed, regarding this, Conway’s timeline—an enormous, fully hotlinked spreadsheet that makes James’s “Connections to J. Michael Bailey” graphic look like a quick afterthought—leaves out entirely what I would consider one historically key event in May 2003. Shortly after the book came out, the Chronicle of Higher Education apparently decided to have its staff writer, Robin Wilson, compose a feature story on Bailey and his book (Wilson, 2003a). For the story, Wilson traveled to Evanston and Chicago, and on May 22, 2003, Bailey took Wilson out to the Circuit nightclub, along with Kieltyka and several of the women who appeared as “homosexual transsexuals” in Bailey’s book, including Juanita.
No question Kieltyka comes across in Wilson’s article as unhappy with Bailey’s book: “Ms. Kieltyka says the professor twisted her story to suit his theory. ‘I was a male with a sexual-identity disorder,’ not someone who is living out a sexual fantasy, she says” (Wilson, 2003a). But the other transwomen who went out to help promote Bailey and his book appeared downright supportive, judging both by Bailey’s recollection and Wilson’s account (Bailey, 2006a; Wilson, 2003a). Indeed, Wilson opined “they count Mr. Bailey as their savior.” She goes on:
As a psychologist, he has written letters they needed to get sex-reassignment surgery, and he has paid attention to them in ways most people don’t. “Not too many people talk about this, but he’s bringing it into the light,” says Veronica, a 31-year-old transsexual woman from Ecuador who just got married and doesn’t want her last name used. (Wilson, 2003a)
But if these women were, compared to Conway’s rather selective account, relatively slow to turn against Bailey, turn four of them did. Just about two months after the gathering at the Circuit, about one month after Wilson’s gossipy “Dr. Sex” feature story on Bailey, Wilson would write a sober news article for the Chronicle entitled “Transsexual ‘Subjects’ Complain about Professor’s Research Methods” (Wilson, 2003b). Five months later, this would be followed up by another sober dispatch, “Northwestern U. Psychologist Accused of Having Sex with Research Subject,” that “subject” being Juanita (Wilson, 2003c).
So, given that Kieltyka did not immediately turn against Bailey once she saw the book (though there’s no question she was frustrated and disappointed with being called autogynephilic), given that the other transwomen were helping Bailey promote the book even after its publication, given that Wilson reported they saw him as “their savior” even at that point, what happened to turn these women’s warm feelings for Bailey into charges of scientific misconduct? Given the evidence, the answer is unequivocal: Lynn Conway’s and Deirdre McCloskey’s intervention.
According to Conway’s timeline, in early June 2003, Conway began taking “field trips” (Conway 2003b) to Chicago “to meet and begin interviewing Bailey’s research subjects” (Conway, 2006a). Kieltyka remembers these visits vividly, and recalls that, early in the process, McCloskey and Conway informed Kieltyka and her friends that, if they had not given informed consent to Bailey to research and write about them, it didn’t matter whether Kieltyka and friends wanted to file charges against him; McCloskey and Conway would do so (Kieltyka, 2006c). As it turns out, Kieltyka, Juanita, and two other women did decide to file complaints with Northwestern University. (That didn’t stop McCloskey and Conway from also doing so.) The sophisticated writing style and language of the formal charges compared to that of Kieltyka’s other writings and Juanita’s autobiography as it appears on Conway’s site suggests that Kieltyka, Juanita, and the two other complainants had help writing their letters to Northwestern. So I asked McCloskey what her role was in preparing the formal complaints made by the four women who claimed they were Bailey’s research subjects, and she replied “I helped write the letter some. I knew one of the women” (McCloskey to Dreger, p.e.c., January 22, 2007). She declined to elaborate (p.e.c., February 4, 2007).
Anjelica Kieltyka took the lead on the filings. On July 3, 2003, she submitted a letter to C. Bradley Moore, Vice President for Research of Northwestern, stating “I was a participant in a research study without being informed of that status. […] I was unaware that I [or the women Kieltyka introduced to Bailey] were subjects of a research study, and I did not receive, nor was I asked to sign, an informed consent document” (Kieltyka to Moore, July 3, 2003; available at Kieltyka, 2003b). On July 14, 2003, a woman identified on Conway’s site as “Victoria” also filed a formal complaint that “I have been a participant in a research study conducted by Dr. Bailey without my knowledge and without my approval” (available at Conway, 2003c), although her story did not appear in TMWWBQ. On July 23, Juanita filed a similar complaint (available at Conway, 2003d) and also filed a “sealed” complaint claiming that “On March 22, 1998, Northwestern University Professor J. Michael Bailey had sexual relations with me. I was one of his research subjects at that time” (available at Conway, 2003e). On July 29, McCloskey and Conway filed their own complaint, charging Bailey with “grossly violat[ing] the standards of science by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of study” (McCloskey & Conway, 2003). And on July 30 came a complaint from a transwoman who felt she had been similarly “researched” by Bailey and that Bailey had ignored evidence from her history that not all transwomen fit Blanchard’s scheme (available at Conway, 2003f).
Northwestern University first appointed a Provost-level inquiry committee to examine the charges against Bailey. Then, in November 2003, the university announced that the inquiry committee had found cause to continue the investigation, and so a Provost-level investigation committee was formed (C. Bradley Moore to Alice Dreger, p.e.c., August 1, 2006). Bailey bitterly remembers that the first he heard of Northwestern’s decision to move to a full investigation was from a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He adds, “Obviously Northwestern told the complainants […] and it was on the web probably before I knew about it. […] I think Northwestern didn’t know what kind of people they were dealing with” (Bailey, 2006b).
Why did Kieltyka, Juanita, and the two other transwomen familiar with Bailey but not mentioned in the book decide to charge Bailey after years of good relations with him? Motivation is one of the most difficult things to document in historical scholarship, but I think it is fair to speculate that a number of factors may have been in play here. First, Conway, McCloskey, and perhaps also James seem to have convinced Kieltyka that she had—however unintentionally—hurt transwomen by helping Bailey “recruit” transwomen as “subjects” for his book (Kieltyka, 2006b). A letter from Kieltyka, Conway, James, and Calpernia Addams to the faculty of Bailey’s department in January 2004, speaks to the degree to which they saw themselves as the protectors of other, more vulnerable transwomen:
We are socially assimilated trans women who are mentors to many young transsexuals in transition. Unable to bear children of our own, the girls we mentor become like children to us. These young women depend on us for guidance during the difficult period of transition and then on during their adventures afterwards—dating, careers, marriages, and sometimes the adoption of their own children. As a result, we have large extended families and are blessed by these relationships. Through our extended families we know first-hand how Bailey’s junk science is hurting young trans women. […] You may have wondered why hundreds of successful, assimilated trans women like us, women from all across the country, are being so persistent in investigating Mr. Bailey and in uncovering and reporting his misdeeds. Now you have your answer: We are hundreds of loving moms whose children he is tormenting! (Kieltyka, Conway, James, and Addams, to the Faculty members of the Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, January 7, 2004)
I don’t think there can be any doubt Kieltyka saw herself in that caring, protective role, and in charging Bailey, she must have wanted to get out of the position of being represented as the opposite—a sort of merciless pimp who turned over vulnerable transwomen to Bailey in exchange for chances to perform before his classes (Kieltyka, 2006a).
It also seems fairly clear that Kieltyka (if not the others) must have feared what might happen if she didn’t cooperate with Conway and the other “investigators.” After all, Kieltyka distinctly remembers initially contacting them specifically because they were “about to hang” her (Kieltyka, 2006f).
Recall too that, even before Conway’s “field trips,” Kieltyka had already been upset with Bailey’s portrayal of her as the poster-child for autogynephilia; the fact that many other transwomen read “Cher’s” story so negatively no doubt fueled Kieltyka’s sense of hurt. Indeed, Bailey’s continued use of Kieltyka as an example of autogynephilia—for example, at a lecture at UCLA on June 2, 2003 (see Conway, 2004b)—certainly added to her growing anger. Kieltyka now seems to hold nothing but contempt for Bailey and is convinced he was intentionally duping her all along; this again suggests she came to agree with Bailey’s other detractors’ assessment that Bailey had made a fool of her. Kieltyka recalls Juanita feeling similarly wounded because Bailey wrote about Juanita’s wedding with a snickering tone and included in the book “his opinion she got a divorce because she was too used to having sex with men and prostitution is well suited for her and the others” (Kieltyka, 2006f).
My conversations with Kieltyka also suggest that she and the other women who charged Bailey found a certain relief—perhaps even pleasure—in going from the powerless position of represented subject to the powerful position of active accuser. Through her Website, Conway in particular gave them a place to reconstruct themselves and their histories with Bailey. Thus, instead of appearing as Bailey’s collaborators in their annual presentations to his Human Sexuality class, they came to call themselves his victims. Juanita’s complaint of July 23, 2003 declared it “most disturbing and humiliating to find out that we were all misled by Dr. Bailey and misused […] as part of his ‘Freak Show’ Demonstration of ‘Homosexual’ and ‘Autogynophilic’ [sic] Transsexuals” (see Conway, 2003d). (An odd claim, given that Juanita knew perfectly well that in 1999 Bailey had identified her as a “homosexual transsexual” in the newspaper article with which she fully cooperated [Gibson, 1999].)
Finally, although Kieltyka told me that the only money she received from Conway was to reimburse her for phone calls made as part of their collaboration, Kieltyka speculated to me that, in Juanita’s case, monetary reward for her aid to Conway’s “investigation”—including her sexual relations charge against Bailey—may have been substantially higher. Kieltyka adds “[Juanita] denied it, so I had no proof” (Kieltyka, 2006d). I asked McCloskey whether she knew if Conway financially compensated Juanita for making formal accusations against Bailey (p.e.c., January 22, 2007). McCloskey responded, “What an absurdity. Juanita is well-to-do” (p.e.c., January 22, 2007). It is certainly true that for at least several years before TMWWBQ’s publication, Juanita had been wealthy; in the 2002 human sexuality textbook video, she says that “when I was a she-male [and] I prostituted myself […] I enjoyed it […] eas[il]y making about a hundred thousand [dollars] a year” (in Allyn & Bacon, 2004).
Regardless of why they turned so dramatically, Kieltyka and her new allies ended up going after Bailey with virtually everything they could muster. Kieltyka used her artistic talents to provide Conway with a clever series of political cartoons on the theme of “The Sinking of ‘The Queen’” (see Conway, 2003g). And in July 2003, Kieltyka showed up at the meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research (IASR) in Bloomington, Indiana, where Bailey had decided to speak on the controversy over his book. Kieltyka tells me she went on “orders from” Conway “to confront Bailey” (Kieltyka, 2006a). Prohibited from entering, she remained outside to talk to anyone who would listen, handing out a flyer explaining in damning tones “How the sex research community will be hurt by J. Michael Bailey.” The hand-out elaborated briefly on how Bailey was guilty of “academic dishonesty,” “(still more) bad science,” “unethical behavior,” and “personal misconduct.” The flyer called on the sex research community to
censure J. Michael Bailey for his recent acts of junk science and groundless defamation. Do not invite him to speak at your institutions. Disinvite him if he is invited. Review his manuscripts and grant proposals with great caution and skepticism. J. Michael Bailey has brought further embarrassment to a research community that is still feeling the aftershocks of John Money’s John/Joan scandal.
“For more on this scandal,” the reader was advised to visit “tsroadmap.com/bailey”, Andrea James’s Internet exposé. (Copy of flier obtained from Bailey’s personal files.)
Kieltyka’s campaign seems to have caused some strain at the IASR meeting, but not to have resulted in much more than that institutionally within IASR. John Bancroft—then-Director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction—did stand up to admonish Bailey after his talk, saying “Michael, I have read your book and I do not think it is science” (John Bancroft, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). When I asked him about his remark—a shot heard round the world of the controversy—Bancroft explained that “my response might have been more measured” if Bailey had “allowed adequate time for discussion by the group” (John Bancroft, p.e.c., July 23, 2006). Bancroft elaborated:
My dislike of Michael’s book was that it promoted a very derogatory explanation of transgender identity which most TG people would find extremely hurtful and humiliating—hence the reaction of the TG community was not surprising. Whether based on science or not we have a responsibility to present scientific ideas, particularly in the public arena, in ways which are not blatantly hurtful. But in addition to that, Michael did not support his analysis in a scientific manner—hence my comment. (John Bancroft, p.e.c., July 23, 2006; edited February 27, 2007)
As it turned out, someone at the IASR meeting sent Conway a detailed report of Bancroft’s “not science” remark, and almost immediately her Website started prominently featuring Bancroft’s denouncement of Bailey. On the page about Bancroft’s remark, Conway likened it to “a similar moment back in 1954 when Joseph Welch faced Senator Joseph McCarthy and threw down the gauntlet with the statement: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?’” (Conway, 2003h).
But if Conway thought her publication of Bancroft’s remark would result in his becoming an active ally, she was mistaken. Bancroft told me “If I had known my remark would be made public, I wouldn’t have said it. We like to think of the Academy meetings as opportunities for sex researchers to openly discuss their ideas and criticisms with each other, and not the outside world.” Nevertheless, Bancroft maintains his concern for truly vulnerable trans people: “The Lynn Conways of the transgender world are the exception. They fight back, often in a self-defeating fashion. In this case, they went over the top and lost credibility in the process. But the majority in that world are less resilient and more vulnerable, and they get hurt” (John Bancroft, p.e.c., July 23, 2006; edited February 27, 2007).
Several people I spoke to about the IASR meeting told me that Bancroft’s remarks did not reflect anything like a consensus of the people in IASR (e.g., Pepper Schwartz to Dreger, p.e.c., February 3, 2007; Wallen, 2006). Indeed, several recalled that researcher Pepper Schwartz immediately responded to Bancroft’s remark with “a small speech about civilized discourse, collegial norms, and critical analysis rather than name calling” (Schwartz to Dreger, p.e.c., February 3, 2007). Schwartz recalls she “said I was particularly troubled that this particular performance was more like the inquisition than a professional meeting and I wanted none of it” (Schwartz to Dreger, p.e.c., February 3, 2007).
Although she worked to get other organizations to act against Bailey, Conway also had not much success trying to use her influence with the National Academies to have Bailey’s book removed from the Web, investigated, and denounced. But Conway and her allies enjoyed more success with the HBIGDA. On July 14, 2003, Conway, McCloskey, Ben Barres and Joan Roughgarden of Stanford University, and Barbara Nash of the University of Utah wrote collectively to HBIGDA about “Bailey’s shockingly defamatory book.” They outlined “the investigations now underway” and “urge[d HBIGDA] to begin your own investigation into Prof. Bailey’s motives, methods, and activities” (available at Conway, 2003i). Walter J. Meyer, HBIGDA’s President, and Bean Robinson, HBIGDA’s Executive Director, responded in writing “on behalf of [HBIGDA’s] Officers and Board of Directors” on October 20, 2003 to note that, while Bailey was not a member of HBIGDA (and therefore was not for them to regulate), they found “it appropriate that an investigation into these allegations is being conducted by Northwestern University.” Meyer and Robinson went on to say
It is felt by many of our members that this poorly referenced book does not reflect the social and scientific literature that exists on transsexual people and could damage that essential trust. We hope that the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at Northwestern will consider the ethical issues that are involved and we will also be sending them a copy of this letter so that they are aware of our concerns. We are also preparing a separate letter to Northwestern University to express our concerns directly. (Meyer and Robinson to Conway, McCloskey, Barres, Nash, and Roughgarden, October 20, 2003; available at Conway, 2003j)
What exactly the “separate letter to Northwestern” said, I have not been able to determine; I have asked Meyer and Robinson for a copy of the letter and have been told no one at HBIGDA can find it (Tara L. Tieso to Dreger, p.e.c., September 12, 2006). Whatever it said, through this action, HBIGDA was seen both by Bailey’s allies and detractors as siding with Conway and her allies.
In utter disgust, Ray Blanchard resigned from HBIGDA on November 4, 2003. His letter stated as the reason “the appalling decision of the HBIGDA Officers and Board of Directors to attempt to intervene in Northwestern University’s investigation into the allegations made by certain members of the transsexual community against Prof. J. Michael Bailey.” Blanchard decried “such an intervention, undertaken without any effort by the HBIGDA to conduct their own systematic inquiry or to learn all the relevant facts of the matter,” a move he felt “could only be prejudicial to Northwestern’s investigation.” Blanchard argued, “The HBIGDA would have been better advised to allow the Northwestern authorities, who are actually taking the trouble to investigate the allegations, to reach an impartial decision.” He expressed:
deep regret that I tender my resignation[…] I have long supported the goals of the HBIGDA. I have been involved in the clinical care of transsexual persons for 24 years. During the years 1983 to 1991, I conducted eight research studies on the therapeutic impact of hormonal and surgical treatment of transsexuals. […] I published an additional article on the desirability of insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery as recently as 2000. (Blanchard to Walter J. Meyer III and Bean Robinson, November 4, 2003)
As one might expect, Conway quickly announced Blanchard’s resignation in victorious tones: “Blanchard resigns in a huff from HBIGDA!” (Conway, 2003k).
Meanwhile, Conway remained particularly relentless in her drive to get Northwestern to take serious action against Bailey. On May 10, 2004, a full year after the book’s publication, she filed a new 49-page complaint with Northwestern. According to Conway’s Website,
the new complaint contain[ed] hard evidence implicating Mr. Bailey in, among other things, (i) deliberate failures to examine counter-evidence to the theory he was studying, (ii) open defamation of those who put forward counter-evidence to that theory, (iii) the making of “remote clinical diagnoses” of mental illnesses in persons he has not ever even met, (iv) libel, (v) flagrant abuses of the power of his office and (vi) the deliberate suppression of complaints by colleagues about such conduct. (Conway, 2004c)
And Conway et al.’s formal complaints were not limited to Northwestern University. In the spring of 2004, Conway, James, and McCloskey filed a series of complaints with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation stating that, in providing letters in support of several transwomen’s SRS requests, Bailey had been practicing psychology without a license. The three also made the same complaint to Northwestern (see Conway, 2004d).
The charges of misconduct against Bailey are worth considering at length, and so I do that in the next part of this article, remaining here focused on the history of the backlash itself. But I will note here what I can of the outcomes of the formal complaints. It appears that the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation did not do anything with the complaint that Bailey was practicing clinical psychology without a license, presumably because he never took money for the SRS letters he wrote, nor did he offer or represent a therapeutic relationship (Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act, 225 ILCS 15/1 et. Seq.). Northwestern University appears to have quickly rejected Juanita’s charge of improper sexual relations, saying it “did not merit further investigation” (see Conway, 2003e); why they likely reached this conclusion is spelled out in the next section. Northwestern concluded the remainder of its investigation in December 2004 and “The investigation committee then made its recommendations to the Provost for an appropriate response” (C. Bradley Moore to Alice Dreger, p.e.c., August 1, 2006). Much to the dismay of Kieltyka, Conway, the press, and me (among others), the university has consistently refused to say what the investigation committee found or what specific actions they recommended. Northwestern’s provost Lawrence Dumas will state only “‘that he had ‘taken action that I believe is appropriate in this situation’” (quoted in Wilson, 2004). Bailey has also refused to say what the outcome of the investigation was, although he is willing to say that, if the investigation committee did its job correctly, then he was cleared (Bailey, 2005). It seems likely that if he agreed with the committee’s findings, he would release the results.
When, for this history, I contacted C. Bradley Moore, Northwestern’s Vice President for Research, to ask about the investigation, I received mostly the party line:
In his response to the investigative review, Provost Dumas noted that, “Northwestern has established a protocol to help ensure that Professor Bailey’s research activities involving human subjects are conducted in accordance with the expectations of the University, the regulations and guidelines established by the federal government and with generally accepted research standards.” As with all employees and faculty members of Northwestern University, any other internal personnel actions are confidential. (C. Bradley Moore to Alice Dreger, p.e.c., August 1, 2006; italics in original)
But interestingly, Moore did add in his response to me this telling line:
Even though the allegations of scientific misconduct made against Professor J. Michael Bailey do not fall under the federal definition of scientific misconduct, Northwestern utilized the procedures outlined in our [“]Policy on Integrity in Research and Procedures for Reviewing Alleged Misconduct[”] to review the allegations. (C. Bradley Moore to Alice Dreger, p.e.c., August 1, 2006; italics added)
Thus, it would appear from Moore’s statement to me that Northwestern found that Bailey did not trespass “the federal definition of scientific misconduct.”
Any other clues as to how the Northwestern investigation turned out? The only notable change in Bailey’s status at Northwestern is that he stepped down as department chair in October 2004. Conway has called this a “quiet victory” (Conway, 2006a). But about this shift, Bailey and a Northwestern spokesperson have said “the change had nothing to do with the investigation” (Wilson, 2004; see also Bailey, 2006a; Bailey to Dreger, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). Indeed, the timing of it is odd; one wonders why Bailey would have stepped down as a result of the investigation in October 2004, if the investigation wasn’t completed until December 2004. Meanwhile, Bailey has maintained his title of full professor, has retained tenure, and keeps teaching and conducting human subjects research; he has taken no unscheduled leaves. All of this suggests that if Northwestern found Bailey had done something wrong, it wasn’t enough to change his terms of employment.
Nevertheless, throughout the various investigations—including Northwestern’s own—the press reports generally made Bailey look quite bad as they recorded charge after charge of misconduct (see, e.g., Barlow, 2003; Becker, 2003; Wilson 2003b, 2003c, 2004). From fairly early on, at the advice of a lawyer he retained to defend himself, Bailey refused to answer reporters’ inquiries, and many may have read that refusal to respond as evidence of guilt. (I recall that I certainly did, watching casually from the sidelines in 2003 and 2004.) Oddly, it seems at least from this vantage point that virtually all of the reporters working on this story from 2003 forward did not do much to independently investigate the claims being made against Bailey, even when they had the opportunity; for the most part, they merely reiterated the charges. Perhaps that is because they did not know how to go about conducting an independent inquiry without Bailey’s cooperation. But even given that possibility, one particular example of strangely shallow—even critically incomplete—reporting stands out, namely that done by Robin Wilson for the Chronicle of Higher Education. This is significant because the Chronicle of Higher Education is an essential source of academic news; it is the newspaper of record in the eyes of many university administrators and faculty, and thus Wilson’s reporting undoubtedly helped to harm Bailey’s professional reputation.
Remember that on June 20, 2003, Wilson published in the Chronicle of Higher Education her “Dr. Sex” feature on Bailey and his book—a gossipy, in-person accounting that included the story of her excursion to the Circuit nightclub on May 22, 2003, with Bailey, Kieltyka, Juanita, and several of the other transwomen whose stories appeared in TMWWBQ (Wilson, 2003a). According to that June 2003 feature by Wilson, Kieltyka was openly disenchanted with Bailey’s account of her as an autogynephile, but by Wilson’s and Bailey’s accounts, the night out in May had been friendly (Bailey, 2006a; Wilson, 2003a). Even Kieltyka did not contradict this account when I asked her (Kieltyka, 2006c). The transwomen who accompanied Wilson and Bailey to the club in May 2003 understood they were helping Bailey promote the recently published book by meeting with Wilson—and why not, since, according to Wilson, “they count[ed] Mr. Bailey as their savior” (Wilson, 2003a).
Flash forward to July 25, 2003, a month after Wilson’s “Dr. Sex” feature, just two months after the Circuit excursion. Now the Chronicle prints Wilson’s sober third-person report, “Transsexual ‘Subjects’ Complain about Professor’s Research Methods” (Wilson, 2003b). Wilson posted a similarly grave third-person dispatch on December 19, 2003, “Northwestern U. Psychologist Accused of Having Sex with Research Subject” (Wilson, 2003c). Curiously, these two news items give absolutely no hint that Wilson herself had met at least two of the women charging Bailey, i.e., Kieltyka and Juanita. There is no mention of the fact that, in late May 2003, after the book’s publication, Wilson had joined Bailey, Kieltyka, Juanita, and others for that good time at Circuit, and that at the time there had been no clue that these women would ever file such serious and formal charges against Bailey. Now, it is certainly possible—as Kieltyka has told me—that it wasn’t until after Conway and McCloskey talked to Kieltyka and Juanita in early June that they realized they had been “abused” by Bailey (Kieltyka, 2006c). But why, one has to wonder, didn’t Wilson ask in July what was going on to have caused such a radical shift in relations? Why did Wilson not use her serendipitous insider knowledge—something any reporter would surely have been delighted to have on such a good story—to raise questions about why these women went so rapidly from being Bailey’s friends to claiming a long history of abuse at his hands?
Even stranger, Wilson’s (2003b) July article reported that Kieltyka “agreed to let the Chronicle print her real name,” as if this were new and terribly important when, in fact, the Chronicle had printed Kieltyka’s real name a full month before (Wilson, 2003a). Why was Wilson acting as if in July she and the Chronicle were completely new to this story? Genuinely baffled, I asked Wilson as much, and she repeatedly refused to go on the record with her reasoning for reporting in this way (Wilson to Dreger, p.e.c.’s, July 27, 2006 and February 7, 2007). I therefore asked her editor to explain (p.e.c.’s August 15, 2006 and September 5, 2006). After looking into the matter, the Chronicle’s editor Bill Horne would only say “we stand by the accuracy, and fairness, of Robin’s reporting and are not inclined to revisit decisions Robin and her editors made here with regard to what to include or exclude from those stories in 2003” (Bill Horne to Dreger, p.e.c., August 15, 2006). I simply cannot figure out what happened at the Chronicle. What I do know is that many academics (including reviewers of grant applications and manuscripts, and recipients of letters of recommendation for Bailey’s students) would likely have drawn a negative opinion of Bailey from Wilson’s July and December news reports.
Amazingly, somehow in the midst of all this controversy, Bailey managed to be vilified by both the right- and left-wing presses. Although the book received a warm review in the ultra-conservative National Review (Derbyshire, 2003), the equally conservative Washington Times reported both the Northwestern investigation into Bailey as well as the disgust among certain House Republicans that Bailey’s sexual arousal studies received federal funding (McCain, 2003). Almost simultaneously, the ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claimed in their Intelligence Report that “many of those who praised” TMWWBQ “belong to a private cyber-discussion group of a neo-eugenics outfit, the Human Biodiversity Institute (HBI)” (Beirich & Moser, 2003). When I asked Kieltyka how the SPLC got involved in all this, she explained that she had learned of the SPLC’s interest in hate crimes against transgendered people, and that she had fed them information about Bailey’s role in what she increasingly understood to be a vast anti-gay collusion (Kieltyka, 2006c).
Bailey indeed does belong to the HBI “private cyber-discussion group”—the sort of online discussion group usually referred to by the less thrilling name “listserv”—and Bailey acknowledges that some of the most active members of the HBI list could legitimately be called right-wing (Bailey, 2006a); this would include the list’s founder, Steve Sailer. But Bailey denies being part of a well—or, for that matter, loosely—organized group that believes homosexuality is “a ‘disease’ that could eventually be eradicated” (Beirich & Moser, 2003). When in our interviews I mentioned the SPLC article to Bailey, his tendency was to look either bewildered or amused, even after I explained to him that Kieltyka saw the 2001 article he published with lawyer Aaron Greenberg, “Parental Selection of Children’s Sexual Orientation,” as clear evidence of his push for an anti-gay eugenics.
In that article, Bailey and Greenberg argued that “even assuming, as we do, that homosexuality is entirely acceptable morally, allowing parents, by means morally unproblematic in themselves, to select for heterosexuality would be morally acceptable.” They believe “this is because allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further parents’ freedom to raise the sort of children they wish to raise and because selection for heterosexuality may benefit parents and children and is unlikely to cause significant harm” (Greenberg & Bailey, 2001, p. 423). Bailey told me this article doesn’t make him anti-gay or eugenical. He is not trying to “improve” the human stock through the elimination of theoretical “gay genes” and, as for the question of the article’s attitude towards gay people, the paper clearly states:
[H]omosexuality, like heterosexuality, is ethically neutral. Because homosexuality causes no direct harm to others (other than those who take offense at it on irrational and/or inhumane grounds) and because homosexual behavior is crucial to the ability of homosexual people to enjoy their lives (as heterosexual behavior is to heterosexuals), homosexuality should not be morally condemned or proscribed. (Greenberg & Bailey, 2001, p. 424)
Bailey has insisted that, in this paper, he and Greenberg simply argued one thing: that parental rights could reasonably be understood to include genetic selection against—or for—a theoretic “gay gene” in the same way that parental rights are reasonably understood to include the right to raise children in parents’ religions. A close reading of the paper certainly seems to bear out Bailey’s claims about it.
Although it is clear Kieltyka believes the “collusion and possible conspiracy” is absolutely key to understanding the backlash against Bailey’s book and Conway’s role in it, it is difficult for me to sum up what Kieltyka sees as the evidence for a vast network of cooperation among supposedly anti-gay researchers, pundits, engineers, and politicians. I have found her theory confusing enough that at least three times I offered to put Kieltyka’s own account of it up on my personal Website, so that she would feel her theory has been accurately represented (Dreger to Kieltyka, p.e.c.’s September 3, 2006 and September 22, 2006; Dreger to Kieltyka, letter, September 6, 2006). She has not taken me up on the offer. I do know she is sure the scheme reflects the “God, guns, and (anti) gay” agenda of right-wing Republicans, and that it intimately involves members of and testifiers to the President’s Council on Bioethics, as well as members of and contractors to NASA and the Defense Department (Kieltyka, 2006a, 2006c, 2006d; p.e.c. from Kieltyka to approximately 150 people, subject line “What’s Wrong With This Picture—Scowcroft—Zeder—Conway???”, September 2, 2005). I believe I should also report—since Kieltyka mentioned it repeatedly—that her conviction that she had accidentally stumbled onto something really big was bolstered when she appeared on the KKK-related “New Nation News” Internet “shit list” (Kieltyka, 2006a, 2006d), and, most frighteningly, when she woke up one day to find a dead cat laid out on her doorstep, a cat who looked very much like her own dear pet (Kieltyka, 2006a, 2006b, 2006d). (She alerted the local police to a possible hate crime [Kieltyka, 2006a].) I should also note that, although Kieltyka insisted to me that Bailey is just the “fall guy” in the much higher-stake scheme she hoped I would point my attentions to—a scheme where Conway ranks significantly higher up than Bailey (Kieltyka, 2006a)—she is still really angry with Bailey for having used her story as an example of autogynephilia.
As mentioned earlier, Conway seems to have remained cool to Kieltyka’s wide-ranging findings that pointed to Bailey as being a collaborator in a massive anti-gay agenda shared by right-wing Republicans. But apparently James did not, because her 2003 graphic of “J. Michael Bailey connections” suggests that, at least in October 2003, James bought into Kieltyka’s grand unifying theory—or at least that she thought it a useful new form of rhetoric to use against Bailey (James, n.d.-a). But, in general, James took a more direct—though not less expansive—approach than Kieltyka. Thus, in an effort to undermine TMWWBQ, James tried to discount, denigrate, or discredit anyone who was seen as supportive of the book. So her Website includes an appraisal of Simon LeVay—who works on the biological origins of sexual orientation and who blurbed Bailey’s book—calling him “a dilettante” and explicitly likening him to “the race scientists who influenced Nazism by emphasizing biological differences of ethnic minorities” (James, n.d.-b). James seems to have been unable to find anything usefully objectionable about co-blurber Steven Pinker; her page on him consists mostly of a cartoon of “Pinker and the Brain plotting their takeover of the intellectual world” and scattered “notes to address later” (James, n.d.-c).
James also sought to force anyone who might be on the fence to side with her or face the consequences. For example, in April 2003, when she discovered endorsements of TMWWBQ on Anne Lawrence’s Website, James sent Lawrence an email telling Lawrence, “I do not deny your legitimacy as a woman or ascribe motivations to you in order to make my own behavior and desires seem more acceptable, yet if you and Bailey feel entitled to do so to me, I will be forced to travel this low road as well and respond in kind.” She ended with a menacing tone: “I believe you find yourself at another crossroads as a community leader. You have a choice to make. […] I strongly suggest you stake out the places where your opinion differs from Bailey’s, or you will find you have squandered even more of the goodwill and respect you used to have in abundance” (p.e.c., April 15, 2003). Once it became clear Lawrence was going to stick with the theory she found most correct, James mounted an extensive attack on Lawrence’s professional reputation, publicizing an incident where Lawrence was charged with professional misconduct. The fact that Lawrence was ultimately fully cleared appears nowhere on James’s “exposé” of the events (Lawrence, 2006a). Had Lawrence supported the feminine essence narrative over Blanchard’s taxonomy, one could easily imagine Conway, James, and the like circling wagons to protect their fellow transwoman. Lawrence’s supposed sin of professional misconduct is clearly not the issue; her allegiance to Blanchard’s theory is. (By contrast, nowhere on James’s extensive site in her favorable use of the work of pro-feminine-essence therapist Mildred Brown does James mention that “Brown paid off a former client to drop a $2.5 million lawsuit that alleged a personally damaging and ruinous sexual affair” [Rendon, 1999].)
James and her allies reacted powerfully when a new site claiming to represent self-identified homosexual transsexuals sprang up. The “Transkids.us” site was organized by intersex activist Kiira Triea, whom I knew coincidentally through my intersex advocacy work in 1998–1999 and with whom I reconnected after my blog on James. When we reconnected, Triea told me that, following the publication of TMWWBQ and the enormous backlash against it, she set up the Transkids site as a way for transwomen she was helping out in Baltimore to voice their stories and analyses—stories and analyses that largely supported Blanchard’s taxonomy and thus Bailey’s book. Triea and her friends prefer the term “transkids” to “homosexual transsexuals” “because their problems started so young” (Triea, 2006). In fact, Triea bonded with the transkids because she could relate to that aspect of their histories; Triea was born intersex and raised male, and at 14 wound up in the famous gender identity clinic led by John Money at Johns Hopkins University. Diagnosed by Money’s team as (in Triea’s words) a “failed male,” she was put through a sex reassignment Triea experienced as brutalizing (Triea, 1999).
Although Triea and the transkids knew the extent of the anger against Bailey, they never imagined that so much of it would be directed toward them for daring to defend Blanchard and Bailey. She recalls:
We had been working on the transkids.us site for several months and when it was done we announced it in various places. The very next morning, one of the transkids called on the phone in a panic, really scared, because overnight news of our website had caused such outrage on the Internet. Andrea James was saying “if you have any information about any of these people give it to me.” I looked at two of the forums, the worst ones, and the outpouring of hatred and violence was just unbelievable. It was frightening because I had never seen anything like that. They were saying things like we needed to be “infiltrated and taken out” or “vectored and destroyed,” all this military stuff! (Triea, 2006)
Triea told me, “We talked about taking the website down, because we didn’t want anyone to get hurt” (Triea, 2006). But in the end, they left it up and continued to post new material occasionally. The fact that the transkids have occasionally criticized some of Bailey’s book (see, e.g., Velasquez, 2004) did not seem to mollify James. James’ site still calls for readers to send in any “email, attachment or photo from” the transkids.us writers “for analysis by our investigators. We need to vector and expose this kind of online fakery before someone takes them seriously” (James, n.d.-d).
For her part, Deirdre McCloskey, too, led sections of the counterattack. We see this most clearly in the case of the LLF’s collision with the Bailey controversy. On February 2, 2004, the LLF announced the finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards, and included among the five books in the “Transgender/GenderQueer” category was TMWWBQ. Conway’s site on “the Bailey Investigation” tends to assume that all positive publicity for the book was the production of the publishers’ or Bailey’s agents, and the LLF case is no different. According to Conway’s master “Timeline,” Bailey’s publicists managed to get the book nominated for a Lambda award (Conway, 2006a).
But Jim Marks, then Executive Director of the LLF, corrected the record when I spoke with him. “The book was not originally nominated by the publisher,” according to Marks. “It was added to the list by a member of the finalist committee and after the finalist committee had selected it, we went back to the publisher, who paid the nominating fee” (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). Bailey remembers with annoyance that his publisher let him know about it only to tell him they assumed he didn’t want the book nominated. Presumably, by then, the publisher was weary of being attacked over the book. Bailey recalls, “My editor was always supportive, although I didn’t deal with him much after [the book] came out. The publicist was also very positive. But the people higher up definitely seemed torn between supporting me and appeasing the people who were giving them trouble” (Bailey, 2006b). Bailey responded that of course he wanted the book nominated, so the fee was paid, and the nomination became official.
Immediately after the nominations were announced, Deirdre McCloskey contacted Jim Marks to let him know she was outraged. Marks remembers, “I first realized that we had a problem on our hands when I got a vehement phone call from Deirdre McCloskey, Professor of Economics and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. McCloskey insisted that we immediately remove the book from the list of finalists” (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). In an email sent on the day after the announcement, McCloskey told Marks the nomination “would be like nominating Mein Kampf for a literary prize in Jewish studies. I think some apologies and explanations and embarrassment are in order” (McCloskey to Marks, p.e.c., February 3, 2004; available at Conway, 2005a). Marks wasn’t sure exactly what to make of this at first:
While I was a little taken aback by the campaign of a university professor to relegate a book to a kind of Orwellian non-history, we might have considered taking administrative action and removing the book from the list if McCloskey’s view had been universally that of the transgender community. The LLF was in some senses an advocacy organization. Its stated mission was to advance LGBT rights through furthering LGBT literature. We would clearly have grounds for removing a book that was in fact hostile to the Foundation’s mission. (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006)
But Marks soon learned that “McCloskey’s point of view, although widely shared, was not universally that of the transgender community. Among the torrent of e-mails we received, a minority came from transgender people who supported the book and urged us to keep it on the list” (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). Marks recalled to me,
I had no expertise in this area (which is one reason we were blind-sided by the controversy). My main concern was maintaining the integrity of the nominating process; I didn’t feel like I could ask a finalist committee to take the time and effort to select finalists and then simply overturn their decision without legitimate grounds. I informed the finalist committee of the controversy and asked them what to do. They re-voted and said, keep the book on the list. We did and sent the book out to the transgender panel of judges. (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006)
Following this decision to keep the book in the running, the pressure McCloskey, Conway, and others brought to bear on the LLF to remove Bailey’s book from the running became intense. A worldwide online petition was started by Christine Burns, a leading trans advocate in the U.K., insisting “that the book […] be withdrawn forthwith from the list of nominees at our collective request.” It quickly reached nearly 1,500 signatures (see http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?bailey).
In the style of the rest of her “investigation,” in the LLF-nomination affair, Conway also encouraged her followers to take to task anyone who could be seen as helping Bailey. Thus, she listed on her site “Members of the Lambda Literary Foundation committee who selected Bailey’s book,” with this heading:
We thought you’d like to know who the gay men and lesbian feminists are who launched this attack on us. Following are the names, addresses, URL’s and phone numbers of these people. We think that they should hear from you, so as to gain some comprehension of the scale of the pain they have inflicted on transwomen throughout the world. […] Note: There is some evidence that the owners and employees of several of the book stores listed below have specific lesbian-feminist policies of welcoming only “womyn born womyn” (thus excluding transwomen) as customers in their stores. We suggest that our investigators out there quietly gather evidence about any discriminatory policies employed by stores listed below, for future publication on this site. (Conway, 2005a)
In a little over a month after McCloskey’s first call to Marks, the pressure did result in what McCloskey, Conway, and their allies sought. By early March, according to Marks, a judge within the LLF “raised concerns, we went back to the finalists committee one more time, a member changed their vote and we withdrew the book from consideration” (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). Only one vote had flipped, but it was enough to have the book removed.
In their public comments, those on the Finalist Committee disagreed about whether this action was tantamount to censorship. Kris Kleindienst is quoted in an LLF announcement as saying, “Removing the book from the list is not censorship. The book is widely available, has been widely reviewed and is not about to be denied to the public. What we are doing is behaving in a responsible manner to make sure the list of finalists is compatible with the Foundation’s mission.” But Victoria Brownworth, along with other members of the committee, disagreed, saying “if we take the book off the list we are indeed censoring it. It doesn’t matter what our reasons are” (Jim Marks to “distribution list,” p.e.c., March 12, 2004, reproduced at Conway, 2005a).
Jim Marks’s challenging experience with the controversy and his new critics did not end there. As was typical in the whole TMWWBQ-related affair, Conway’s and James’s site continued to track their perceived-enemy’s actions. In 2005, in a link highlighted on Conway’s site, James victoriously announced on her Transsexual Road Map site that Marks had been “ousted as Executive Director” of the LLF, claiming that the cause was “the mishandling of the Bailey matter, combined with late publication deliveries and financial woes” (James, n.d.-e). Marks says this is simply not true: “I did not resign […] because of financial difficulties. The 12 month period from June 2004–May 2005 was the most successful year, financially and organizationally, that the Foundation had ever had.” Instead what happened was that the LLF board decided to reorganize the Foundation in a way that Marks “did not think […] was a viable business model and [he] resigned rather than try to implement it”. He adds, “As far as I know, the controversy over [TMWWBQ] played no part in the decision of the board to reorganize the Foundation. When I resigned, it was over 15 months in the past and of no immediate relevance to the Foundation” (Jim Marks, p.e.c., July 22, 2006). James’s and Conway’s sites continue to say otherwise.
All of this was no doubt taking its toll, most especially on Michael Bailey. And I don’t think there can be any doubt that, via their work with the press, their orchestrating of charges of scientific misconduct against him, and their encouraging of vocal objections at any public talks Bailey might give, Conway and James in particular were trying to make Bailey as miserable as they could. In my interviews with him, Bailey resisted admitting to misery, but conversations with his family and friends suggest the multi-year assault on so many fronts did wear on him. Because they believed he had rhetorically assaulted them, his enemies would seem to deny him any safe haven, however personal. At one point, Conway even decided to contact Bailey’s close personal friend and departmental colleague, Joan Linsenmeier, to suggest that Linsenmeier tell Bailey he needed to be concerned for his personal safety. Linsenmeier told me about Conway’s call:
I don’t recall exactly what she said, but basically it was that some people with very negative feelings toward Mike knew where he lived, that this put him in danger, and that she thought I might encourage him to consider moving. […] while she definitely scared me, this was something I chose not to share with Mike at the time. (Joan Linsenmeier, p.e.c., August 17, 2006)
This sort of direct appeal to Bailey’s colleagues would continue unabated for years. In September 2003, while Bailey was Chair of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern, James wrote to all of Bailey’s departmental colleagues, feigning concern for him:
Northwestern’s Psychology Department tacitly allows someone suffering from what the DSM calls alcohol abuse and dependence to run the department. As psychologists and friends, you must know that if Bailey continues his downward spiral, it’s largely because you and your colleagues didn’t step in. […] I’m sure some of you will continue to respond with self-righteous indignation or with fear of me and my message. For the rest of you, I hope this little rock tossed through your window makes a real human connection. (Andrea James to the faculty of the Northwestern University Psychology Department, p.e.c., September 15, 2003)
Similarly, in January 2004, members of Bailey’s department all received the previously mentioned letter from Kieltyka, Conway, James, and Calpernia Addams. The ostensible cause of the letter was to alert them to the SPLC report:
With this letter we wish to inform you that the Intelligence Report identifies J. Michael Bailey, the Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern, as a central figure in an elite reactionary group of academics, pundits and journalists now especially active in an insidiously noxious “scientific” and “scholarly” pursuit of institutionalized bigotry and defamation of transsexual women[. …] We urge you to suspend disbelief. Read those SPLC Intelligence Report articles for yourselves. Then contemplate the role that some psychologists, including your Department Chairman, are playing in fostering hate and violence against young transsexual women. (Letter from Anjelica Kieltyka, Lynn Conway, Andrea James, Calpernia Addams to faculty members of the Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, January 7, 2004)
As late as 2005, Conway was still using this approach, choosing to write to Alice Eagly, who had replaced Bailey as chair of the department. Conway insisted that, because of Bailey, “the deep stain on Northwestern Psychology remains.” But she offered a solution:
the internal culture of the Department could perhaps be improved over time if signals were quietly sent that it now at least tolerates open discussion of alternatives to Mr. Bailey’s views […] It might also be important to reflect upon what is being taught about transsexualism to Northwestern’s undergraduates in the large “sex courses” given by your Department’s faculty members. (Letter from Lynn Conway to Alice Eagly, January 26, 2005)
Unlike Conway, James considered even Bailey’s family and non-professional friends fair game in her own branch of the “investigation.” So, in 2005, James obtained pictures of Bailey’s girlfriend from 2003 and mounted a special page mocking her. It included a visual feature that morphed Bailey’s girlfriend’s face into Bailey’s face from his high school yearbook picture—presumably implying Bailey is autogynephilic, though the exact meaning is unclear. Bailey’s now-ex-girlfriend has asked James to take down the page to no avail; it is still the first page you get when you Internet-search that woman’s name (Bailey to Dreger, personal communication, September 19, 2006).
In May 2003, James created a special portion of her site to go after Bailey’s children. In her own words, this special page was “a very coarse and mean-spirited screed, designed to reflect what I consider [Bailey’s] own motivations to be. […] A taste of his own medicine.” For this project, James took from Bailey’s homepage photos of his son Drew and daughter Kate when they were in junior high and primary school, respectively. She then superimposed black bands over their eyes, presumably to mimic the dehumanizing pictures of trans people in the medical literature. Under the picture of Drew, using mostly a line from Bailey’s book about transwomen, she added the caption, “There are also kids like ‘Drew’ who work as waiters, hairdressers, receptionists, strippers, and prostitutes, as well as in many other occupations.” Meanwhile James labeled Kate’s picture this way: “‘Kate’: a cock-starved exhibitionist, or a paraphiliac who just gets off on the idea of it? We’ll find out in 12 easy questions!” In an update on this page, James delighted “that professionals are reading this page and acting with disgust.” Indeed, the negative reactions she was getting made her decide to ratchet up her satirical analogizing of Bailey’s book to his children. She now imagined “a classification system to categorize Bailey’s children. There are two types of children in the Bailey household: Type 1, who have been sodomized by their father, or Type 2, who have not” (James, 2003a).
James did eventually take enough flak over her mockery of Bailey’s children that she withdrew the special page about them. She claims on her site that she issued via Drew Bailey a sincere apology to him, his sister, and his mother (James, n.d.-f), but Drew Bailey says she did nothing of the sort, even after he contacted her to defend himself and his sister: “there was nothing in her response that could have been reasonably interpreted as a sincere apology” (Drew Bailey, 2006). In our conversation, Drew, now 22 years old, added, “Something [else] that really bothered me involved her characterization of our family dynamic. She said that my father had abandoned us, that we were his ‘ex family.’ That really hurt because it is completely untrue” (Drew Bailey, 2006). I asked Michael Bailey if it is possible that Andrea James was referring to the terms of his divorce in speaking of his alleged “abandonment.” Bailey replied that the divorce had been friendly. When I asked if he had any evidence of that, he thought a moment, and remembered that he and his then-wife Deb had used the same divorce lawyer (Bailey, 2006a).
As it turns out, the Bailey clan remains quite close-knit in spite of the parents being divorced. Thus, James’ characterization of Bailey “abandoning” his family could only be called a misrepresentation at best. The Baileys are inclined to call it a vicious lie. By all accounts, the Baileys celebrate holidays together, are in constant close contact, and even vacation together. When I interviewed Deb Bailey in Evanston the day after she returned from a Maine vacation with her partner, her children, her ex-husband, and other close friends, she told me “It’s eleven years since we’ve been divorced and he still rides his bike [over], stops by, all the time to see the kids […] and to see me.” She confirmed for me that she and her ex-husband had shared the same divorce lawyer, and indeed remembered somewhat sentimentally how they enjoyed each other’s company the day of the court divorce proceedings. She also remembered that, in 2003, when the stress of the book backlash was getting particularly intense, Michael Bailey came to her house to talk for hours about it with her. Deb summed it up this way: “Mike and I have an unusual relationship in that we care for each other a lot. Married was not a good thing, but friends is a fabulous thing, and I have only the utmost respect for him” (Deb Bailey, 2006).
While Bailey’s family and friends privately rallied around him, throughout the controversy over TMWWBQ, Bailey’s colleagues did not do much to visibly side with one party or the other. This may have been because—as John Bancroft suggested above, and Anne Lawrence seconds below—it became difficult, if not impossible, to put forth any kind of judicious critique of the book given the highly charged terms of the debate. One sexologist who did seem to take the side of Conway is Eli Coleman of the University of Minnesota. In response to the outrage coming from Conway and her allies, Coleman expressed his concerns about Bailey’s book and promised in an email he copied to Conway, “we will do all we can do to respond to this situation” (available at Conway, 2003i). Then, at the 2003 Ghent meeting of HBIGDA, Coleman criticized Bailey’s book as an “unfortunate setback.” At his 2005 lecture to the International Foundation for Gender Education, Coleman again “said pretty much what I said in Gent—that it was an unfortunate setback in feelings of trust between the transgender community and sex researchers.” He also specifically “said thanks to Lynn Conway that the concerns of the transgender community had been brought forth and articulated” (Coleman to Dreger, p.e.c., August 4, 2006). According to Conway, it is “courtesy of Dr. Coleman” that her site shows a slide from Coleman’s IFGE lecture—namely a reproduction of TMWWBQ’s cover with the words “Unfortunate Setbacks” added above it (Conway, 2005b). When I asked him if he gave Conway the image, Coleman told me “I have no idea where she got the slide” (Coleman to Dreger, p.e.c., February 6, 2007).
A number of Bailey’s colleagues who might have been inclined to explicitly defend him suggested to me in conversation that they feared being both ineffectual and attacked; certainly his colleague Joan Linsenmeier found herself set upon by both Conway and James as a consequence of her public positive association with Bailey (see, e.g., James, 2003c). One sexologist suggested to me that some colleagues who might have otherwise defended Bailey publicly might have stayed out of the conversation because, in 2003 and 2004, as charge after charge of scientific misconduct piled up, colleagues might have believed “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” But things have clearly shifted since then; Bailey is now quicker to call on colleagues to help, and they are quicker to respond. When the queer-community-oriented Chicago Free Press ran an anti-Bailey editorial in August, 2006 in response to a new tip from Kieltyka (“Bad Science,” 2006), Bailey asked his colleagues to write letters to the editor, and at least 18 immediately did (Bailey to Dreger, p.e.c., January 23, 2007).
Meanwhile, although strife within the trans (especially the transwomen) activist and support circles certainly predated the publication of TMWWBQ, the controversy over the book seems to have substantially exacerbated it. A number of the transwomen who wrote to me after my original blog on Andrea James volunteered that they had been harassed, intimidated, and sometimes electronically erased for speaking autobiographically of autogynephilia or positively of Blanchard, Bailey, or Lawrence. (All of these correspondents asked to remain anonymous for fear of further attack.) The heat around Bailey’s book appears to have entrenched for many people the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us, and you’ll be treated as such” mentality. Even transman/trans-advocate Jamison Green, who has publicly criticized TMWWBQ and Bailey (Green, 2003), has said,
I have been disappointed by some of the vitriolic attacks that Bailey received from trans people at the height of the controversy. I strongly feel that scholarly (and creative) work should be reviewed on its merits and that resorting to personal attacks on creators of published work is uncalled for at best and demeaning to the critic at worst. Such tactics actually undermine productive critical dialog[.] (Jamison Green, p.e.c., August 20, 2006)
And indeed the divisive shockwaves from the controversy over TMWWBQ are still reverberating within trans circles in ways that don’t seem productive or civil much of the time. Whether that will change remains to be seen, and will probably depend much on whether leaders and followers within trans advocacy and activism can find a way to move forward while the “if you’re not fully with us, you’re against us” mentality remains. For his part, Green told me “I sincerely hope that one day intelligent people will be able to consistently exhibit civil behavior toward each other in all aspects of social interaction” (Jamison Green, p.e.c., August 20, 2006).