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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

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This isn't about telling an unfortunate truth or unpopular ideas. There's a multitude of reasons why at a public meeting of sex researchers shortly after the publication of "The Man Who Would be Queen," Dr. John Bancroft, then director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, said to Dr. Bailey, “Michael, I have read your book, and I do not think it is science.”

First, there's the theoretical basis. There is a huge difference between a classification system and causality. Bailey relies on the work of Raymond Blanchard, which at best (and this is/has been disputed) shows that the population of male-to-female transsexuals includes the following two groups: those who like to have sex with men, and those who are viewed to be aroused by cross-dressing. Blanchard makes a huge leap in asserting that wanting to have sex with men or some sort of autoeroticism is the cause of transsexualism in these two groups. (Blanchard did see these two groups as only a portion of the MTF transsexual population.) In the 20 some years since Blanchard started with this classification system, no one has replicated his work, a key part of the scientific process.  Perhaps this contributes to why prior to Bailey's book, Blanchard was only of interest to a few people at all and even specialists in transsexuality rarely cited his work.

Bailey goes further and asserts these are the two -- and only two -- causes of MTF transsexualism -- and that if you say that your life experience doesn't match these models, you're lying. Which needless to say, makes Bailey's theory un-disproveable -- taking it out of the realm of the "scientific," despite Bailey's repeated assertions in TMWWBQ about the scientific nature of his inquiry.

Then there's the shoddy nature of Bailey's "field research" for the book, which in its entirety consisted of talking to a handful of transsexuals at a local bar, and the startling conclusions Bailey reached based on that. To make an analogy, imagine a researcher who:

- drew conclusions about the entire population of black women based on a half-dozen women he met in a local bar (because he didn't know how to locate other black women, despite the presence of several organization for black women) and based on that sampling

- argued that white women "aspire (with some success) to be presentable, while [black women] aspire (with equivalent success) to be objects of desire" (Pg. 180 of "The Man Who Would Be Queen")

- argued black women "tend to have a short time horizon with certain pleasure in the present being worth great risks for the future" (Pg. 184)

- argued that black women "might be especially well suited to prostitution" (Pg. 185)

- argued the black women are "especially motivated" to shoplifting (Pg. 185)

- argued those who were black women "are much better looking than most" of those who aren't, and that he can tell the difference between light-skinned black women and dark-skinned white women based on whether he was attracted to them (Pgs 180-182)

I doubt we'd be debating whether those findings were politically incorrect and recognize the shoddy "research" for what it was.

The general public doesn't see the slight of hand that converts a questionable taxonomy developed within a scientific framework into an non-scientiific opinion about a reason why.  Nor the slight of hand that takes what is at most, anecdotes from a highly non-random sample, and turns them into assertions about an entire population.

Frankly, some transsexuals _have_ hurt the case for the many justifiable criticisms of Bailey's work by their over-zealous behavior. But I hope one might see how assertions such as the ones above, might be enraging to a population that already is marginalized and discriminated against. People whose lives are affected by a book that says that the story they've been telling about themselves is a lie, and that asserts that they are especially suited to criminal activity, have clear reason to be concerned. They are right in thinking "with friends like Bailey, who needs enemies?" Especially when Bailey gives the general public "scientific" tools like the following:

[quote]
I have devised a set of rules that should work even for the novice (though admittedly, I have not tested them). Start at zero. Ask each question, and if the answer is "Yes," add the number (+1 or -1) next to the question. If the sum gets to +3, stop; the transsexual you're talking to is autogynephiliac. If the sum gets to -3, she is homosexual.

+1 Have you ever been married to a woman?
+1 As a child, did people think you were about as masculine as other boys?
+1 Are you nearly attracted to women as to men? Or more attracted to women? Or equally uninterested in both? (Add 1 if "Yes to any of these.)
+1 Were you over the age of 40 when you began to live full time as a woman?
+1 Have you worn women's clothing in private, and, during at least three of those times, become so sexually aroused that you masturbated?
+1 Have you ever been in the military or worked as a policeman or truck driver, or been a computer programmers, businessman, lawyer, scientist, engineer or physcian?
-1 Is you ideal partner a straight man?
-1 As a child, did people think you were an unusually feminine boy?
-1 Does this describe you: "I find the idea of having sex with men very sexually exciting, but the idea of having sex with women is not at all appealing?"
-1 Were you under the age of 25 when you began to live full time as a women?
-1 Do you like to look at pictures of really muscular men with their shirts off?
-1 Have you worked as a hairstylist, beautician, female impersonator, lingerie model, or prostitute?

Finally, if the person has been on hormones for at least six months, ask yourself this question:

If you didn't already know that this person was a transsexual, would you still have suspected that she was not a natural-born women?

+1 if you answer is "Yes" (if you would have suspected)
-1 if your answer is "No"

Keep in mind that people don't always tell the truth. This interview could be invalid if the transsexual is really autogynephiliac, but is either (a) worried that you will think badly of her or deny her a sex change if you know the truth, or (b) obsessed with being a "real" woman. (Pgs 192-194)
[/quote]

It's not the claim the autogynephilia exists that we're upset about. I'm rather inclined to agree that some people really are like that, although I don't think Bailey has completely understood them or that it's a less valid motive for transitioning than any other.

The problem is the way he makes such sweeping, universal claims about all transsexuals on the basis of data collected by hanging out in the sort of bars populated mostly by straight male tranny chasers and girls willing to prostitute themselves to such fetishists. Bailey isn't claiming that 'a small subset' of transwomen are motivated by autogynephilia; he's claiming that all transwomen who aren't exclusively heterosexual (and he describes this population as 'homosexual', thus demonstrating his disrespect for our identities) are really autogynephilic, and if we claim otherwise we must be lying. It's circular logic throughout, propped up by grossly biased sampling methodology and utter disrespect for his research subjects' identities.

I'm a lesbian trans woman. I was never 'masculine', and I never experienced anything remotely like autogynephilia. I never eroticized my own gender identity the way Bailey claims all non-androphilic trans women do. Before I transitioned (at age 22, not 40) I sometimes had a hard time passing as male; passing as female was effortless, even before I was on hormones. I interact with co-workers every day who haven't got a clue I was born male. According to J. Michael Bailey, I do not exist. If he heard my story, he would claim I'm making it all up, that I'm really just autogynephilic, a sort of fetishistic cross-dresser who's gone a bit to far. That's what we're offended about.

Marlena and Andrea,

Thanks for your sharing your insights and offering some clarification on the issues. As I said in the preface to the post, I've ordered Bailey's book. I will read it with your comments in mind.

Dr X

We are starting our own Satire provided to us by Shirley Spammer.

For information about the Baileyesque figure in the Intersex community
http://www.intersexualite.org/AliceDreger.html

I feel that Dreger and Bailey deserve NO serious response from most of us at this point. What Dreger has done in my opinion is use her social status and her normborn privilege to caricature me and in so doing it has been crafted into a genetic definition of me as
disordered sexually. This is a very dangerous caricature. What Shirley Spammer and Andrew Kerr have done in the following satire is simply mirror back what they are doing; but, of course, there is no real danger there because it is not to be taken seriously as a
scientific, truthful article. What Dreger and Bailey have done is very serious and even though it is a caricature, a perversion of what I am, it will end the lives of many like me in the future because of having a DSD or more precisely: a genetic birth defect suitable to be eliminated from the gene pool.

Dreger and Bailey are the only ones with the TRUTH. All others are liars or erroneous. That ends the discussion. Freedom of expression only applies to the ones doing the research and speaking about us and for us - never to us the actual subjects. Like Sophie Siedlberg has so clearly pointed out, when we the subjects object, then the objection is the subject of another clinical study of the squeaks of the labrats. By accident of birth, we have no access to their Ubermensch truth. This is our disclaimer. We don't pretend to have the truth. Only those who speak for us do.

The first two in ours series:
Professor Rike Mengele Fatbastard and Dr M. Alice Doormat De Vile Are Innocent!!
"When Professors are branded neo Nazi scum and liars"

Access to the articles in this series
http://www.intersexualite.org/AliceDreger.html#anchor_68

Autogynephilia: Okay, so is a woman (non-trans) who gets turned on by her own femininity and likes to dress up in sexy lingeie also an autogynephiliac? How about a man who's aroused by his own masculinity, and likes to flex his muscles in front of a mirror. is he an autoandrophiliac.

It seems to me that this thing Bailey and others call "autogynephilia" is actually just another aspect of normal human sexuality.

I'm a gay transsexual man. I tried very hard to be a girl when I was a child, for fear that someone might find out about my "abnormality." I became increasingly masculine in my demeanor the older I got, but still tried to live as a tomboy because I thought there was nothing I could do to fix my mismatched body. I didn't start transition until age 36 because I didn't know such treatment existed. I didn't live as a man, for one reason only: I couldn't pass--My body and facial features were just too feminine.

There are amny resons why some of us transition later in life. If Bailey thinks he can ask simple questions with yes or no answers and make complex judgments based on those answers, well--to put it nicely, he's a rather poor thinker.

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