Caitlyn Lance Antrim (August 30, 1949–July 28, 2018) was an American engineer who joined the transgender community in protesting the book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey.
Antrim was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Her parents were Admiral Richard Nott Antrim and Mary Jean (Packard) Antrim.
She earned her SBME from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1971. On returning to civilian life, she returned to MIT to earn the professional degree of Environmental Engineer in 1977, specializing in ocean mineral development, international law and public policy.
A noted expert on the Law of the Sea, she was Executive Director of the Rule of Law Committee for the Ocean. She died while attending the International Seabed Authority Conference in Kingston, Jamaica.
Letter to book’s publicist
Antrim sent the letter below to Joseph Henry Press publicist Robin Pinnel in August 2003.
Dear Ms. Pinnel,
In the course of some work on the internet I came across your post to ‘Currents of Justice’ in Atlanta. You were promoting the idea of having Professor Michael Bailey appear on the show to promote his recent book.
I believe in social justice. I have worked to promote justice at the national and international levels in the US government, for NGOs and at the United Nations – I have even worked at the National Academy of Sciences. Because of this connection, particularly my involvement with the Academies and friendships with many of the staff, I feel competent to write to you on this subject.
Years ago a feminist author published a book called “The Transsexual Empire.” This book, which put forth the idea that men were trying to take over the women’s movement by becoming ersatz women and supplanting ‘real’ women, was a hurtful, biased book. In spite of its lack of substantive research or analysis, it continued to arise year after year, denying that transsexuals could ever be real women, causing hurt to many and relegating them to a lesser role, or denying them a role at all, in the women’s movement. I hope that you will understand that the lesson of “The Transsexual Empire” has been that such publications, based on bias and pre-conceived opinions, cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. If you wish to understand the current relevance of this lesson, you may search the internet where you will find that Bailey’s book receives strong support in very conservative web sites where it is used to degrade both gays and transsexuals.
Professor Bailey has proven to be intolerant of disagreement with his book, his ideas and his methods. He has declared that the many people who have transitioned across genders who claim they do not fit into his two categories are lying about their experience. I am insulted by his arrogance, and I am disappointed by the glowing recommendations that the Academy Press has provided, particularly now that Professor Bailey has stated that he did not base his book on original research and that he even fabricated the ending of at least one story to support his personal position.
Most hurtful of all – I find that when I attend meetings in the Academy building and stop in the first floor bookstore, I am met by the cover of “The Man Who Would Be Queen”. At that moment, as I stand in the doorway, I feel that it is the Academy itself that is insulting me by promoting this book that not only presents a view of transsexuals that does not apply to me, but denies that I have the self-understanding or the right to exclude myself from its categorization. It is only when I remember my friends and colleagues throughout the Academy who have supported me in my own transition that I regain my balance.
Ms. Pinnel, if you truly value social justice, I hope you will consider the injustice that Michael Bailey’s presentation does to the many, many transsexuals he never considered in all his study, indeed, that he refused to consider – those of us who work throughout society, who teach at universities, who lead major businesses, who practice compassionate medicine, who work to improve the lot of the oppressed, and who work at the Academy, participate in its committees and are even elected to its membership. We are the people who Michael Bailey never considered; we are those he refused to meet even before the Joseph Henry Press ever heard of his book. We simply seek our deserved recognition as women (and as men for those who transitioned from female to male). Justice cries out for us to be heard! Are you listening? Are you willing to?
In closing, I ask you to try to consider what it would be like for a prominent institution, one that you respect most highly, to publish a book that denied to you recognition of something of great personal importance – your religion, perhaps, or your ethnic heritage — how would you feel? How would you feel toward the people who, perhaps in ignorance, promoted that book and further denied you the understanding that you deserved?
On that question, I will close and ask you to ponder your response. If you would like more understanding, I would welcome your questions and would even be willing to discuss the matter with you and your colleagues to develop ways to redeem the injustice.
Caitlyn L. Antrim
Stimson Center (stimson.org)