"Lost in the Male": review by John Derbyshire

Below is an excerpt from a glowing review of J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen, penned by John Derbyshire for the conservative magazine National Review on June 30, 2003 (pp. 51-52).

See my comments following the excerpt.

Part Three is the book’s most difficult section, because it deals with the rarest and most puzzling aspect of male effeminacy: According to Bailey, less than one man in 12,000 is transsexual, a condition defined simply by “the desire to become a member of the opposite sex,” whether or not that desire has led to actual surgery. The striking finding here is that there are two quite distinct types of men who wish they were women, distinguished by the choice of erotic object. On the one hand there are “homosexual transsexuals,” who desire masculine men—heterosexual men, for preference—and who dress and behave like women to attract them. And then there is the “autogynephilic transsexual,” a man whose erotic attention is fixed on the idea of himself as a woman.

The strangeness of this latter type is captured nicely in the title of Bailey’s chapter on them: “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies.” An autogynephile is essentially a heterosexual man whose object of desire is an imaginary feminine creature which happens to be himself… or herself, depending on how you look at it. Such a person was usually not effeminate as a child, has likely been married, and does not show typically homosexual preferences in career or entertainment choices. The historian and travel writer Jan (formerly James) Morris, to judge from her autobiographical book Conundrum, belongs to this category. The consummation of sexual desire presents obvious difficulties for the autogynephile. Indeed, it is occasionally fatal: Around 100 American men die every year from “autoerotic asphyxia,” which seems to arise from a conjunction of masochism and autogynephilia—the two conditions are related in some way not well understood.

All of these types—girlish boys, male homosexuals, transsexuals of both types—are of course human beings, who, like the rest of us, must play the best game they can with the cards Nature has dealt them. No decent person would wish to inflict on them any more unhappiness than their mismatched bodies and psyches have already burdened them with. At the same time, there is circumstantial evidence that complete acceptance and equality for all sexual orientations may have antisocial consequences, so that the obloquy aimed at sexual variance by every society prior to our own may have had some stronger foundation than mere blind prejudice. Male homosexuality, in particular, seems to possess some quality of being intrinsically subversive when let loose in long-established institutions, especially male dominated ones. The courts of at least two English kings offer support to this thesis, as does the postwar British Secret Service, and more recently the Roman Catholic priesthood. I should like to see some adventurous sociologist research these outward aspects with as much diligence and humanity as Michael Bailey has applied to his study of the inward ones.

Derbyshire, J. "Lost in the Male." National Review, June 30, 2003. pp. 51-52.


Mr. Derbyshire’s positive review shows why this book will be embraced by conservatives as part of the new “calculated compassion” movement in the face of significant and unstoppable GLBT political advances in the last 30 years. Seems they hope to slow things down at least.

As expected, uber-conservative Mr. Derbyshire loves Bailey. In discussing the first two sections, he brings up Bailey’s cloacal extrophy story, his woefully uninformed “homosexual voice” thinking and clueless conjectures on why certain jobs in the gender ghettoes go to gay men.

Then he gets to the part on transsexuals, which he sums up perfectly. Mr. Derbyshire cuts through Bailey’s attempts to obfuscate his bigotry and exposes the book for what it is.

Bailey has been claiming he never called us men, but that’s not how anyone else sees it, whether they're Mr. Derbyshire, yours truly, or other psychologists.

He also picks up on how Bailey claims there’s a connection between transsexual women and 25 men a year who die from self-strangulation while whacking off in panties.

The 1 in 12,000 number cited is way off, as Bailey is about to find out. I would estimate several thousand assimilated transsexual women in the Chicago area alone, and probably five times that many who would fit in Bailey’s overbroad definition of anyone seriously thinking about transition.

Bailey should be very pleased to see that conservatives like Tammy Bruce and John Derbyshire are taking up Anne Lawrence’s offensive “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies”cliche, which dovetails perfectly with his Man Who Would Be Queen title.

Mr. Derbyshire sees homosexuals as “intrinsically subversive”when allowed in positions of power (see the Califia-Rice quotation on my "illegal immigrants" page for how those of us who pass get painted as moles and traitors).

NaSHILLnal Review?

One thing I like about the National Review crowd is that they are smart and have senses of humor. I got several chuckles among their eyeroll-inducing cluelessness as I read their site to find how this review came about. It came about the same way as Bailey's Amazon shill reviews, it turns out. A little logrolling.

Both boys are recently published by National Academies Press:

Prime Obsession:Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
John Derbyshire
5.5 x.8.5, 448 pages, 2003.

The Man Who Would Be Queen:The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism
J. Michael Bailey
6 x 8.5, 256 pages, 2003.

The Derb is well-known for anti-gay commentary, and he's taking us to task for being those "'transgender' extremists," miserable ingrates who just aren't satisfied with the crumbs from the table.


The homosexual-rights activists are in a period of overshoot. They have banished the old regime of illegality, persecution and blackmail, and a good thing too. Now, however, they are trying to effect radical changes in society, changes which huge numbers of people will not stomach. As I have said before: "Homosexuals would, I believe, be wise to lower the volume, cherish their private lives, withdraw the more contentious litigation, and stop 'pushing the envelope.' Envelopes can break."

There's also this gem (interesting in light of my business partner Calpernia's boyfriend Barry, who was gay-bashed on base for months before he was literally beaten to death with a baseball bat):

The extremist-homosexualist lobbies are extremely skilled at this. Just look at the word "gay-bashing." It ought to mean whacking someone over the head with a baseball bat. What it actually means--is taken to mean by ordinary Americans--is the utterance of anything opposed to the extremist-homosexualist cause. (It was used against me just five minutes ago in an e-mail, because I wondered aloud about diseases specific to male homosexuals.)

And last, before we get to the review, an anecdote about his wacky adventures with Bailey (emphasis mine):



Yes, it's true: NRODT really did assign me to review Michael Bailey's book about effeminate men. I urge you to do one, or better yet both, of the following: (a) get a subscription to NRODT so you can read my review, or (b) buy Michael's book. As well as the obvious reasons to buy it (it's a good book, full of fascinating observations and, so far as I could discern, agenda-free), there is also the fact that Michael, the nicest guy you could ever wish to meet, and a very conscientious researcher, is being vilified by militant trans-gender extremists. Here is an anecdote about the book. It happens that Michael and I share the same publisher. We had adjoining tables at Book Expo America in Los Angeles the other day. The drill is, you get half an hour at a table in a huge hall, where people line up in front of the tables to get a free book (this is a trade show) signed by the author. It's all timed very precisely by the organizers, as they have a LOT of authors to get through. Well, I was waiting in the green room with my publisher's publicity lady, to do my signing at 12:30. Michael was scheduled to sign at the same time, but he was late. It got to be 12:15, 12:20, and the publicity lady was getting worried. Derb: "I sure hope he gets here on time. A long line of angry transsexuals doesn't bear thinking about..." Fortunately Michael showed up with a minute to spare.

The Derb
The Bail

I promised I'd stop being so catty, but I gotta say it... rounding a corner at a book expo and seeing these two side by side doesn't bear thinking about.