Letter to Bailey by Australian WOMAN Network

Editor's note: Kate Clarke and Karen Gurney at Australian WOMAN Network have taken up Bailey's invitation to respond.

Professor J M Bailey
Department of Psychology
Northwestern University
2029 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-2710
United States of America

Dear Professor Bailey


Thank you for your invitation to respond to your concerns over the criticism your latest book has engendered.

There are lots of things you said in your book with which we take offence because they are singularly lacking in ordinary sensitivity and understanding. But the main argument we have with your publication is your complete lack of attention to any explanation except that we are somehow pursuing a paraphillic response to our predicament - that our motivation is entirely sexual. It's time someone told you that, for by far the great majority of us, there is no SEX in transsexualism!

We would like to ask you why you have not even mentioned the biological basis of transsexualism; its intersexual nature? Why have you disregarded the fact that, for nearly 80 years, those most actively involved in researching our condition have postulated its somatic origin? Why did you not explore the intricacies of the neurological data provided by leading researchers such as Aschemann, Hofman, Gooren, Swaab, Zhou, Kruijver, Diamond, Whitten, Ward, Playdon and Besser; or those who take us through the change in phenotype such as Green, Reed, Royle, Walters, Reid, Wylie, Martin, Walker, Ralph, Thomas and Wylie? Why does it escape you, despite the thousands of times it has been repeated by so many of us for so long, that the overwhelming need we have to bring our phenotype into harmony with our innate sense of what we truly are has a foundation which can only be ascribed to our brain morphology?

It is not as if this has escaped recent attention in your country. The Kantaras decision in the Circuit Court of Florida got a lot of publicity as did the Full Court decision in Re Kevin here in Australia. Both courts, after hearing expert medical opinion and the considerable anecdotal evidence of those involved, came to the conclusion that the sex of a child cannot be finally determined at birth and such a determination should not be immutable. Seventeen internationally known experts issued their joint statement to the UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Transsexualism last year in which they described transsexualism as purely a neuro-developmental condition of the brain. The acceptance of our reality has not occurred overnight. It has been developing apace in the last decade, however, as has the extent of the research into our condition. Why do you persist with this myth that we are all driven by some extraordinary homosexual or paraphillic need? We are perplexed, indeed.

We must also take issue with your claim that your research methodology is well-founded. You took a tiny sample of two sub-sets (non-surgically affirmed transvestites and drag queens) from an extremely diverse population (the so-called "transgender"), and then applied your findings to people who experience transsexualism (who are primarily affected by a biological condition and not a psychological one). And then you fall back on the work done twenty years ago by another worker whose findings in regard to autogynaephilia are no longer regarded as a credible explanation of transsexual behaviour by the majority of those current in the field - he was investigating cross-dressers, transvestites, not people with transsexualism. How can you possibly claim your postulation is even remotely accurate? Your inability to see the true nature of transsexualism and adherence to an outdated concept is akin to the Catholic Church's response to Galileo - but please don't put us to death in your ignorance.

Look at the real world, Professor, and not just the sleazy dives you apparently frequent in pursuit of your "research". Look at the amazing diversity we represent and the multitude of fields in which we have excelled. We are not all driven by an overpowering sexual urge nor by a desire to make money by prostituting ourselves or denigrating others. A lot more research and a heap more respect for your subjects would provide you with the academic recognition you apparently seek, but perhaps this would not be as financially rewarding, would it? We have a saying here, Professor: "If you walk in the bull paddock you are sure to get shit on your boots."

Yours sincerely

Kate Clarke

Karen Gurney
Asst Convenor/Advocate