Reading Mike: The Annotated Bailey: Chapter 8, page 142

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Bailey Commentary



desire that virtually anyone would feel toward at least one of them. I remind myself that it is Sunday night "Glee Club"—gay night at Crobar. What would a gorgeous heterosexual couple be doing at Crobar tonight at 2am? In fact, however, [...] this is a very trendy setting even among heterosexuals, particularly if one is unconventional and open-minded. (Dennis Rodman has been a regular.) I cannot decide whether Kim is transsexual or not, and in a tribute to her beauty, I decide for now not to approach her. If she is transsexual, I will have other chances to meet her, and I will probably also have the opportunity to find out from others without asking her directly. So I leave.

at least one of them: For a supposed sex expert, Bailey can't decide if people can be bisexual or not-- sometimes no (p. 95-96), sometimes yes (p. 159)

[...] This warmed-over chapter was written six years before it was published. The original version said "in 1997" here.

has been: The original version said "is" here.

tribute to her beauty:
Bailey has no problem asking an unattractive woman if she's transsexual, but the hotties get special treatment. Hmmm...

Based on the frequency of their appearance on American talk shows—"Beautiful Women Who Used to be Men," "My Wife Used to be a Man," "My Husband Is a Woman," "My Husband Has Become a Woman"—transsexuals might appear to constitute a sizeable minority. They do not. Fewer than 1 in 20,000 persons is transsexual. Most of us do not personally know a transsexual, although many of us have had the experience of wondering if a particular woman we have seen is actually a man, and most of us who have been to even a few gay bars have seen one. There are also transsexuals who work as waitresses, hairdressers, receptionists, strippers, and prostitutes, as well as in many other occupations, whom we may meet incidentally, without even questioning whether they might have once lived as men.

American talk shows: Bailey takes his attitude and style from Jerry Springer and friends throughout the following chapters, preferring exploitation and freak-show theatrics to a serious discussion of our condition.

fewer than: Given the broad and inaccurate definition of "transsexual" Bailey uses throughout this book, this number is way too low. For an interesting discussion of prevalence of transgender and transsexual conditions, see Lynn Conway's estimates. Bailey is about to find out just how many of us there are, and how many of us aren't happy with what he's been saying about us.

is actually a man: Note Bailey says IS, not WAS. We are men in Bailey's taxonomy, and we will remain so no matter what we do, pure and simple. This is the most derogatory slur you can say to us.

gay bars: Bailey spends much of his time looking for transsexuals in gay bars, which has clearly given him a skewed perspective of transgender women. Throughout, Bailey conflates several transgender identities and expressions with the specific subset of transsexuals.

There are also...: Many (myself included) consider this one of the most offensive passages in a book filled with outrageously defamatory statements about women in our community. Imagine any university department chair saying this about non-transsexual women, or replacing the word "transsexuals" with any other minority! The fact that any publisher allowed this to be printed under the auspices of "science" raises serious concerns about the process by which books are subjected to review at Joseph Henry Press. Shame on the National Academies for giving credence to this sort of unvarnished bigotry.

I recommend sending your feelings on Bailey's writing to the following two people who read this passage and book, and apparently saw no problem with what he said:

Joan Linsenmeier: Bailey states this Northwestern colleague of his "read the entire manuscript and made sure my thoughts were clear." (p. xii-xiii)

Joan Linsenmeier
Senior Lecturer, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences    
Department of Psychology
Swift Hall 311  
2029 Sheridan Road   
Evanston, IL 60208-2710
Phone: (847) 491-7834
Fax: (847) 491-7859

Jeff Robbins: Bailey states his editor at Joseph Henry Press "made my writing better than I could." (p. xiii)

Jeffrey Robbins, Senior Editor
The Joseph Henry Press
36 Dartmouth St. #810
Malden, MA 02148
Tel. 781-324-4786
Fax 781-397-8255

Send them a quick note for me (here's what I sent Joan and Jeff)-- they need to understand how they hurt us, and they need to understand that they will be held responsible for their part in defaming transsexual women.

Transsexuals appear on every tenth episode or so of Oprah, Geraldo, Ricki, et al. not because they are common, but because people find them fascinating, and because talk shows’ continued existence depends on their catering to people’s fascinations, no matter how elevating (or not) those may be. During the last year, I have been asked to talk to respectable media as an expert on transsexualism regarding two cases: a race car driver who got a sex change, and a Chicago area teacher who was living as a man in the spring and assumed a female identity in the fall. Time Magazine recently ran a story about the "transgender," and movies in recent years such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Crying Game, Ed Wood, Silence of the

Oprah should not get lumped in with Geraldo (cancelled in 1998) and Ricki Lake, both of whom have decided to treat transsexualism in exploitative and salacious ways ("try to guess who's a man" type of shows). Oprah has always taken the high ground, most recently featuring well-known transsexual author Jennifer Finney Boylan on 6 May 2003. Bailey could learn a few things from Ms. Winfrey about sensitivity and respectfulness. Bailey has a long way to go to reach her level of class and decorum.

catering to people's fascinations: Some professors' continued existences depend on this as well...

got a sex change: There's question elsewhere in Bailey if this is even possible. More soon!

assumed a female identity: an "assumed name" is a pretended or fictitious one; synonyms for "assume" in my thesaurus include usurp, claim, appropriate, feign.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: Not about transsexuals, but about drag queens.

The Crying Game: About a transgender woman (with an uncomfortably misogynistic scene at the end when Dil shoots the IRA woman)

Ed Wood: About a crossdresser, not a transsexual.

Silence of the Lambs: About a deeply disturbed psychotic murderer, modeled on serial killer Ed Gein (who was not transgender or transsexual). Gein was also the model for Norman Bates in Psycho). As with the ending of Psycho with the psychiatrist, there's a scene discussing transsexualism in Silence of the Lambs where FBI agent Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter agree that this unspeakably misogynistic murderer is clearly not transsexual. Nevertheless, this film remains connected in public consciousness and in Bailey's mind with transssexual women.

Stung by criticism that his portrayal had caused great damage to the GLBT community, Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme made Philadelphia as his next feature film, but by then, the damage was done, and over a decade later, this film remains inexorably linked to "transsexuals and their like," as Bailey pointedly states on the next page.

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