Reading Mike: The Annotated Bailey: Chapter 8, page 141

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Bailey Commentary


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[141] 8 Terese and Cher

Cher: Her real name is Anjelica Kieltyka. Bailey credits her in the Preface both under her actual name (p. xii) and under the pseudonym he gave her: "Cher Mondavi."(p. xiii) Bailey claims Anjelica "introduced me to the Chicago transsexual community and taught me a great deal by being honest and open." Anjelica feels Bailey so grossly misrepresented her as his "poster child for autogynephilia" that she's going public with her story in her own words.

It is 2am Sunday night (actually Monday morning) at Crobar, and I am tired. I have had only limited success tonight recruiting research subjects for our study of drag queens and transsexuals and am cruising the huge club one more time before leaving. The Crobar crowd is on a different schedule than I; the place is just reaching its peak intensity. I pass a tall, attractive, black woman, who sees me staring at her, and somehow she understands what’s on my mind. "No, I’m real," she laughs good-naturedly. (I am thankful that none of the dozen or so genetic females we mistakenly approached during the course of this study ever became hurt or angry. I wonder if they understood that the implication that we thought they might be transsexual was not an insult. Many of the transsexuals we interviewed in the course of the study were more attractive than the average genetic female.)

It is 2am
: Note how Bailey's prose frequently sounds like parodies of the hosts on wildlife shows. To him, we are the exoticized Other, not his unremarkable neighbor up the street (as I actually was for many years). Note throughout as this "Crocodile Hunter of Sexism" natters on about how sexualized the beautiful women are, and how hilariously odd the ugly ones are.

limited success: Bailey had limited success because most assimilated transsexual women were asleep at home, getting ready to go to work in the morning. Several people I know in Chicago who transitioned in their teens have never even stepped foot in Crobar, let alone on gay night. That's why Bailey's observations are so flawed. Some people think minorities all live in the "inner city," when their largest growth areas are the suburbs. Bailey cruised the gender ghettoes of the visibly variant for anecdotal data, neglecting the vast gender suburbs. Assimilated transsexual women usually have much different motivations for transition than those you find in clubs and gender societies. Most have little or no connection with others in the community. That's why since the late 1990's we've seen an explosion of women who lived stealth for decades, who make renewed contact after discovering the internet community.

As for me, I'd usually hang out at Crobar once in a while with some circuit boys I knew and then go see pals next door at the strip club. Then I'd go to my office job in the morning and make lots of money, because I am so much more hilarious and interesting than Mike. It seems that Bailey's quite a dweeby milquetoast, for such a manly normal macho masculine heterosexual male man. Too bad I never saw him out when I lived there-- we would have let that tranny-chasin' fool have it.

I'm real: The term "real girl" is one of many ways transgender identities are effaced and debased, implying we are "fake girls." Unfortunately, it's one of many terms some transgender women use themselves. Many have suffered tremendous blows to their self-esteem throughout their lives, to the point that they've internalized terms like these. I found that "real girl" was more commonly heard among gay men who hung out around drag queens (a residual notion, perhaps, from the term "female impersonator"). Finding feminist political sensibilities among women at clubs is not impossible (whether they are transgender or not), but it's less likely than at, say, a university campus. But then, universities are not where Bailey bothers to look for us.

genetic females: Another one of many ways transsexual identities are effaced and sexism is maintained. The prevailing racist taxonomy used to be based on the science that you had "black blood," from which sprang terms like "quadroon" and "octaroon." In the prevailing sexist taxonomy, genetics will continue its ascendancy as other ways to distinguish male and female (genital configuration, reproductive differences) continue to fall away.

mistakenly approached: My issue with this entire book is this: What about all the women Bailey mistakenly didn't approach-- the thousands of transsexual women in this country who are not visibly gender variant? The presence of false negatives means there are also false positives.

more attractive: Transsexual women are identified and discriminated against primarily based on appearance (even among other transgender people). The "man in a dress" cliche is used far more than the equally lame "woman trapped in a man's body" cliche, and those who "pass" are frequently guilty of mocking people like Anne Lawrence for being a "brick," as they say in Chicago. I believe much of Anne's resentment towards those who have concerns about the term "autogynephilia" as Anne uses it is that many people with "passing privilege" see Anne as a man in a dress, which is not helped by Anne's self-identification as a man trapped in a man's body. Back to Bailey: stating that some of us are more attractive than non-transsexuals is as condescending as remarking how articulate an African-American is.

genetic female: Much of Bailey's work is tied up in the search for a "gay gene." As I noted before, this will end up being the last great biological marker of the sexist divide. Another term of concern some people throw around is GG, for genetic girl. While this is cute shorthand for non-transgender women, it actually plays into prevailing notions that biology is destiny. People who think that everything can be reduced to XX or XY efface numerous types of people, including several intersexed conditions and syndromes such as androgen insensitivity, where genotype and phenotype do not match.

I start upstairs to get the panoramic view, and I see Kim for the first time, on the stairs, dancing, posing. She is spectacular; exotic (I find out later that she is from Belize.), and sexy. Her body is incredibly curvaceous, which is a clue that it may not be natural. And I notice a very subtle and not-unattractive angularity of the face, which is also not clearly diagnostic on this tall siren. It is difficult to avoid viewing Kim from two perspectives: as a researcher but also a single, heterosexual man. As I contemplate approaching her, I am influenced by considerations from each perspective. I have this strong intuition that I am correct about her, but if I am not, I may have the unpleasant experience of simultaneously insulting, and being rejected by, a beautiful woman.


exotic: In Bailey's world, attractive transsexual women are depicted as exotic creatures, and Bailey-identified "autogynephiles" like "Cher" are depicted as bizarre, somewhat pathetic clowns.

natural: Another one of many ways transsexual identities are effaced. In Bailey's world, transsexuals are not natural. They're either supernatural women like Kim or unnatural people like "Cher."

diagnostic:(adj.) constituting a diagnosis. diagnosis: (n.) the act of deciding the nature of a diseased condition by examination.

researcher: This passage is more like Jane Goodall's field notes. Separation and distinction are extremely important in Bailey's world-- he considers himself an objective observer, completely uninfluenced by outside forces. He's the embodiment of the 18th century Rational Man!

single: Bailey is an unreliable reporter, something he and his sexology pals accuse transsexual women of being. They think we are liars and exaggerators, unless we agree with their theories. Who's the liar here? Bailey's actually a divorced guy in his late 40's living in a small place on a professor's salary. I'm shocked, shocked I say, that any woman would ever leave this prize specimen. Perhaps we might observe that sexologists like Bailey and Anne Lawrence seem to have a hard time finding steady partners and live rather pathetic lives devoid of the sort of relationships assimilated transsexual women have. "Single," "divorced"-- I guess it comes down to self-identification. I'll humor him and say the little fibber is "single." After all, what difference does a word make, right Mike?

heterosexual: It is an almost invariable aspect of a Bailey lecture, interview, or article for him to make this statement up front. Like his claim that he's "single," this heterosexual self-identity appears extremely important to him. Sure, it sounds like he's saying "I am so not gay," but if we're calling him "single," let's humor him and call him "heterosexual," too. Maybe Bailey and his friend Ray Blanchard can get together and measure each others' penises with their little penile plethysmograph and see if Mike's self-identity holds up to their revered litmus test. Not that the results are especially meaningful. I don't put much stock in this penis gauge stuff (it's like putting a lie detector on someone's dick), and either do other skeptics. I'm sure the experience would be very meaningful for Mike and Ray, though.

man: Men and maleness are extremely important to the Bailey worldview. Abandoned by his wife (no doubt due to his incredible manliness), Bailey is now free to surround himself with nothing but manliness. Some have suggested that Bailey and others have to make sense of transsexuals the only way they know how. Why would anyone not want to be male? Perish the thought! So they cast the entire conceptualization of transsexualism in terms of something they understand: male sexuality. Mike mentions he is woefully in the dark on female sexuality. Maybe that's why he so wrong about us. Maybe that's also why there's no Mrs. Bailey any more.

insulting: Oh, please. Bailey has absolutely no compunction about insulting transsexual women. His whole book is an insult to us. Walking up to someone and asking if they are transsexual is insulting, whether they are transsexual or not. It's like walking up to a stranger and asking if he is divorced or not, because he looks like the type of loser whose wife would leave him. That's a private matter, and it's not a nice thing to do. Bailey refuses to believe those of us who try to explain that his observations are colored by his bias. Bailey does not believe in the prevailing model that gender identity is separate from sexual orientation. Many of us find that extremely insulting. As with his research into non-transsexuals, Bailey's world contains only people who are completely and exclusively attracted to men, and then everyone else. The Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence "autogynephilic" taxonomy is like saying gays are one type of human, and everyone else is the other type of human, from Mister Rogers to the Hillside Strangler. They imply that everyone in their second "type" has sexual similarities and are motivated by the same basic urges. I'm sure Mister Rogers and the Hillside Strangler had several sexual things in common if you make a broad enough definition, but lumping them together and saying they are the "same type" seems like oversimplification, does it not?

rejected: I imagine Bailey has gotten quite used to being rejected by beautiful women at this point in his life.

As I waver, I notice her companion, an attractive, blonde-haired, blue-eyed man whose body, amply displayed in a tight tank top, is the male analogue of Kim’s—he has a huge chest (hairless of course) and bulging biceps. They are a beautiful couple, or at least a couple of beautiful people. They dance together, occasionally smiling at each other, but they do not dance closely or in a way that betrays the sexual

I notice her companion
: Sheesh. Marlin Perkins meets Danielle Steele... Jacques Cousteau meets Tom of Finland...

[N.B.: if you got all four references above, you're cool in my book! Except you, Mike. You're an ass.]

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