J. Michael Bailey lectures and presentations

As part of the promotion for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen, J. Michael Bailey has been going around the country lecturing, sometimes just showing up on campus for free.

Following his troubling lectures at Emory on 8 April 2003 (reported by Dr. Saralyn Chesnut) and at Stanford on 23 April 2003 (reported by Dr. Joan Roughgarden), many have written in response.

Bookstores are beginning to cancel Bailey's presentations in light of what many consider to be his offensiveness.

If you have witnessed a Bailey lecture and would like to submit a report, please contact me.

28 April 2003

Psychologist’s talk exhibited lack of sensitivity toward LGBT community

I want to thank Joan Roughgarden for her guest column, “Psychology lecture lacks sensitivity to sexual orientation” (April 25) in which Roughgarden reports an event that portrays members of the Stanford community as embracing cultural and social intolerance, including using humor and denigration at the deplorable expense of others, about a certain community — in this case, the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community.

I am quite certain a similar enactment focused on the African-American and / or Latino communities, for example, would have brought immediate reaction from members of the Stanford community. I am writing in hopes that Stanford will redress the matter and publicly distance itself from this event while reaffirming its commitment to tolerance and diversity.

The lack of sensitivity and decorum exhibited by the members of the audience, at the apparent expense of the LGBT community, does not portray Stanford well — even taking into account the University’s need to allow a wide range of opinions and positions to be expressed in pursuit of academic freedom. Stanford is a world-renowned learning and research institution, whose behavior and community presence should serve as a world-class model of diversity and tolerance for others to emulate.

Rachel White
West Hollywood, California
Member, West Hollywood transgender Taskforce

Northwestern U. Psychology professor’s teaching methods questionable

I am writing in response to Joan Roughgarden’s guest column, in which she criticizes Northwestern University Psychology Prof. Michael Bailey’s lecture, “Gender Noncomformity and Sexual Orientation.” I am not qualified to comment on Professor Bailey’s recent book because I have not read it, but the description of the manner in which the lecture was presented raises the gravest doubts in my mind concerning Bailey’s teaching methods. Is it his intention to be a popular entertainer, taking as his material the theme of “gay bashing” or does he wish to be respected as a serious investigator?

According to Roughgarden’s account of the lecture, “Voices of two gay men and two straight men were played and the audience was asked to guess who was gay and who was straight. Those who guessed correctly grinned with joy and were applauded by their neighbors, leading to the conclusion that if a gay sounds really gay, then he probably is.” If Bailey is presenting this kind of material as serious scientific evidence, can we similarly expect a return to the days of the black-face minstrel as a representative of the black community?

Myscha Butt
Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom

29 April 2003

Reader ‘concerned and personally offended’ by psychology lecture

I am appalled and saddened that Stanford would allow Northwestern University Psychology Prof. Michael Bailey a platform to spew his dangerous and ill-informed findings. As a transsexual man, I have worked incredibly hard to find a safe and engaging community in which to fulfill my greater promise, and had I been treated or put in the way of someone such as Michael Bailey I would not have come as far as I have today.

In 1974 I was attending junior high school in southern California and transitioned during that time. It wasn’t at all easy and would have been much harder with information such as Bailey’s out in the world. I have overcome substantial social and cultural obstacles to thrive as an artist, Internet developer, husband and activist. I am very concerned and personally offended by the Psychology Department’s insensitivity and wonder why Stanford would even have someone like him lecture (and elicit laughter) there.

I appreciated Joan Roughgarden’s measured and thoughtful response to the lecture in her guest column, “Psychology lecture lacks sensitivity to sexual orientation” (April 25), and hope that the staff of the Psychology Department will issue some type of response to her guest column. My wife of 10 years and I are very proud of who we are and proud of all we’ve accomplished. We don’t need the type of misunderstanding that ideas like Bailey’s create.

Lenny Karle Zenith
Web Resources Manager,
University of Michigan News Service

Stanford should not have invited psychology professor to lecture

I am a transsexual living and working full-time as a woman. Had I been a student in the classroom with Northwestern University Psychology Prof. Michael Bailey and heard his antics, I would have been offended by his presentation — so much so that I would have sued Stanford for sexual harassment, which is what Bailey's lecture seemed to amount to. Would Stanford allow someone to come into a classroom and present women or other minorities in a similar light? I don’t believe it would. If someone were to do that, that person would be called a misogynist and / or a bigot.

Instead, the faculty and students who attended Bailey’s lecture broke out in laughter. I think a little sensitivity is needed here for gay, lesbian and transgender people. Bailey just stereotypes transsexuals such as myself. Many of us are emotionally distraught as it is by the way society treats us. Stanford is adding further fuel to the fire by inviting him into the classroom, which validates his psuedo-science.

Zoe Simsay
San Diego, California


Psychology grad students respond to controversial lecture

This letter is in response to Joan Roughgarden’s guest column, “Psychology lecture lacks sensitivity to sexual orientation” (April 25). We regret that there were any misunderstandings on the part of Roughgarden regarding the Psychology Department’s colloquium. However, we feel that her recounting of the event was inaccurate, and we would like to offer our opinion from the perspective of graduate students in the Psychology Department.

Roughgarden makes two claims in her column. One, that the talk given by Northwestern University Michael Bailey was poorly presented and without merit. We have no dispute with this claim. The speaker’s data were poor, and his conclusions based on those data were severely lacking in merit and validity. No one we spoke with following the talk found his conclusions to be persuasive or scientifically valid, and that was made clear in the questions and critique he received from graduate students and faculty members following the talk.

The second point Roughgarden makes is that the audience response was homophobic and supportive of Bailey’s view. She cites “peals of laughter” of the audience at several points within the talk, as well as a lack of criticism by those present as evidence of this support. There was, in fact, criticism by both professors and students regarding the scientific validity of the evidence presented. While the criticism was limited to the merit of the research, it was in no way supportive, and, in our view, was a clear indication of the critical and dismissive view of the audience toward this research. In addition, Roughgarden made the inaccurate assumption that the audience was laughing because it was reveling in some communal homophobic expression. The audience’s laughter was partially a reaction to the absurdity of some of Bailey’s claims, a reflection of embarrassed discomfort with the glib comments made by Bailey and unease about being asked to participate in Bailey’s guess-who’s-gay experiments.

The Psychology Department is committed to examining scholarly work documenting the true experience of different peoples and, in particular, of studying the processes that have heretofore been in large part omitted from psychological study, including the study of gender, race, social class and sexual orientation. We have a particularly strong research program in questioning stereotypes about marginalized groups. Bailey was included as a speaker in our colloquium series to further our understanding of the psychology of individuals in the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. That his talk did nothing to elucidate our knowledge of those processes was extremely unfortunate, but we fully support the process that brought him to our campus.

Kelly McGonigal
Doctoral candidate, Psychology
Julie McGuire
Doctoral candidate, Psychology
Teceta Thomas
Doctoral candidate, Psychology

Pro-Bailey comments

30 April 2003

Editor's note: NARTH is a conservative group which believes it can "cure" gays. NARTH frequently cites Bailey's work on their website (heavy citations in *bold*)

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Gender nonconformity a distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals

Northwestern University Prof. Bailey’s message discussed in Joan Roughgarden’s column “Psychology lecture lacks sensitivity to sexual orientation” (April 25) may seem to promote an inaccurate stereotype to many people, but in my opinion, it does accurately reflect a key difference that distinguishes gays and straights: gender nonconformity. That difference between the two sexual orientations has been repeatedly shown in the scientific literature and confirmed by researchers who are gay themselves — including noted brain researcher Dr. Simon LeVay.

Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
President, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)

and last but not least...

The campaign against my book and me (and my talk at Stanford)

A pro-Bailey comment by Bailey himself

Here's my favorite Bailey line:

"The controversy has already consumed substantial time that I could be spending on new research, teaching, and administration, and I cannot afford more time to respond to each new charge made by Conway, Roughgarden, et al."

Wow, sorry it's a such a waste of your time to respond to the deluge of criticism about your questionable lectures and writings, Mike.

For more on why Bailey's book is so offensive to most transsexual women, please see my Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence clearinghouse.