Dan Seligman on transsexualism

Dan Seligman is a Forbes columnist and member of the Human Biodiversity Institute started by Steve Sailer. As with other writer members, he's reviewed Bailey for his magazine.

The 13 October 2003 edition carried Seligman's praise for his crony. His commentary revolves primarily around visibly gender variant transgender women, several of whom are at the very fringes of social acceptance, and some of whom may not even meet the standard clinical threshold of transsexual.

Footnotes were added by me.



Companies, People, Ideas

Transsexuals And the Law

Dan Seligman, 10.13.03

Are people who change their gender entitled to the protection of antidiscrimination laws? Thorny questions arise when judges deal with this topic.

Remember Christine Jorgensen? [1] The former George Jorgensen was the world's first transsexual, garnered endless tabloid headlines ("Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty"--New York Daily News, Dec. 1, 1952) and, reluctantly or otherwise, made a career out of the publicity. Jorgensen died in 1989, and today there are thousands of gender-crossers in the U.S., most of them male-to-female, [2] and most living in obscurity. They tend to attract media attention when a big name is involved, as when Ernest Hemingway's transsexual son [3] collapsed and died while being held in a women's jail in Miami two years ago.

But they are also getting into the news in a more problematic context: when there's a row about discrimination. These rows are proliferating furiously. A Nexis search turns up 625 news stories worldwide over the past three years that mention "discrimination" in proximity to "transsexual." The cases tend to start out as exercises in employment law and end up in a metaphysical never-never land. Are transsexuals a "protected class," as defined in the sex-discrimination regulations issued under the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Does a transgenderite take on, for legal purposes, the newly assigned gender? If not, the courts create some awkward precedents in the even touchier area of same-sex marriages. In 1998 a transsexual named Christie Lee Littleton sued a Texas doctor for medical malpractice after her husband died. A Texas appeals court threw out the case on the ground that Littleton was really a man and therefore not the widow of the decedent--even though Kentucky had recognized the marriage. [4]

Which bathrooms should transsexuals use? This mundane question has stumped the Minneapolis City Council ever since a sex-crimes investigator tried to interrogate a female high school librarian [5] who had been using the ladies' room but was discovered to have had a sex change. The British tabloids were running wild this summer with the saga of the five self-proclaimed transsexuals who were evicted from a pub after they descended en masse on the ladies' room. They sued the pub owner for discrimination and were backed by Britain's Equal Opportunities Commission, but they lost their case in court. It emerged that only one of the five had progressed to the point of surgery. [6]

Participation in sports presents several thorny issues, including which locker room one changes in. But the main question is: Do male-to-female transitioners have an unfair physical advantage in women's sports? The argument is now raging in Britain, where the Blair government's sports minister queried the country's 600 governing sports bodies to determine whether they are in compliance with European Union rules allowing ex-men to participate in women's sports.

Americans got a strong whiff of this argument a quarter-century ago. Renée Richards had been captain of the Yale tennis team when she was Richard Raskind. In 1977, at age 43, a postsurgery Renée went on the women's tennis circuit and qualified for the U.S. Open; efforts to keep her out failed after a New York State Supreme Court ruling. (Richards dropped off the circuit in 1981 and is now a Madison Avenue pediatric ophthalmologist.) Was her participation unfair to the other players? Less than they might have thought. A male-to-female gender-crosser takes heavy doses of female hormones, which reduce muscle mass. Yet there must have been some residual advantage to her genetic maleness: There were, after all, no other 43-year-olds competing among the women in the 1977 Open. [7]

Still another legal question is whether gender-crossing surgery qualifies for medical insurance. Earlier this year a Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld P&C Food Markets when its medical plan refused to cover the costs of a female-to-male transition. [8]

The legal uncertainties reflect widespread puzzlement about the basic science. What is transsexualism's connection to homosexuality? Does it signify mental illness? The American Psychiatric Association long ago (1973) eliminated homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, but its fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) still lists "gender identity disorder," also mystifying to many people. Why does it cause thousands of Americans to powerfully desire membership in the opposite sex, leading some subset of this population to undergo transformative genital surgery?

A good recently published guide to all these questions is The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, by J. Michael Bailey, 46, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University who teaches an undergraduate course in human sexuality. The book is mostly about effeminate boys and men and how they got that way, but its concluding chapters zero in on the world of transsexuals--not all of whom were effeminate. The book has ignited a firestorm of protest from some transsexuals.

This despite the fact that Bailey, himself a standard-model male heterosexual [9], is warmly sympathetic to gays and transsexuals and argues persuasively that for the great majority of individuals taking the male-to-female route, the decision is rational.

The size of the transsexual population is itself a matter of controversy, and their propagandists endlessly seek to inflate the numbers. DSM-IV estimates that 1 in 30,000 males (and 1 in 100,000 females) opts for the surgery. Bailey's estimate is 1 in 12,000 males, implying 8,000 gender-crossers now living in the country.

Transsexual Lynn Conway--who has been a computer scientist at IBM and is a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan--is now an activist for the cause. She says the figure is 30,000 to 40,000. [10]

But the transsexuals' attack on the Bailey book is not based on his population estimates. The main point of the protests is Bailey's explanation of the roots of gender-crossing. Relying heavily on the work of Ray Blanchard, [11] who heads the clinical sexology program at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, Bailey tells us that there are two different, quite distinct types of male-to-female transsexuals.

First is the "classic" homosexual type: the effeminate boy who, from early childhood, is profoundly convinced that he was meant to be a woman. A likely but still unproven interpretation of this feeling is that it traces back to an inadequate dose of male hormones six or seven weeks after conception. The result could be a young man sexually attracted to other men and gravitating toward a transsexual solution.

The second type bears the label "autogynephilia," a clunky term invented by Blanchard, who coined it to describe that sizable fraction (perhaps half) of male-to-female transsexuals that he found to have a different version of gender identity disorder. They are erotically stimulated not by other men [12], and not primarily by women, but by the image of themselves as women. Except for their cross-dressing propensities, these transsexuals tend to lead rather ordinary heterosexual lives.

I spoke recently with an eminent transsexual who Bailey believes to be autogynephilic. Deirdre McCloskey, 61, is distinguished professor of the liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a quantitatively oriented Chicago-school economist, a huge fan of Milton Friedman, and a dazzling writer, who is also a professor in the university's English and history departments. Until she underwent the sex change in the mid-1990s, her name was Donald McCloskey, and she was a cross-dresser with a wife and two grown kids. [13]

It is Bailey's impression that the first type--the homosexual gender-crossers--are relatively indifferent to his book and that the protest emanates mainly from the autogynephiles. It is possible to understand their rage. The Blanchard diagnosis is hard to live with: Cross-dressing strikes most Americans as ridiculous, and its specified erotic role only makes matters worse. McCloskey, for one, is furious about the book and told the Northwestern newspaper: "He's saying ‘Look, they're driven by sex, sex, sex. They're men, men, men.'" [14]

The Bailey book sheds some much-needed light on the topic of transsexualism. But it is not destined to end the debate, or the lawsuits. Expect this difficult topic to keep judges and equal-opportunity commissions busy for a long while to come.

1. http://www.planetout.com/pno/news/history/archive/jorgensen.html

As always, the press feels it's necessary to include her old name.

2. See Lynn Conway's notes on prevalence

3. Dr. Gregory Hemingway appears not to be transsexual, as he continued to live as a male after undergoing feminizing procedures. He was more like a transgenderist with wealth and access to medical technology. There appears to be an interesting correlation with wealthy medical professionals who transition in midlife and have little interest or ability in adjusting to the social role, such as Renee Richards (see below) and Anne Lawrence. For more, please see The Strange Saga of Gregory Hemingway.

4. For details on the Texas Supreme Court's decisions, see: http://christielee.net/

5. For details on the Debra Davis case, see: http://www.debradavis.org/ Note Seligman's use of the term "sex crimes investigator."

6. The Publican 15 August 2003: Transsexuals lose discrimination case

Five male-to-female transsexuals have lost their claim for discrimination against a pub landlord who asked the group to leave following a complaint from a customer. The women alleged they had been thrown out of the Red Lion in Thornby in Northamptonshire after one of them used the ladies' toilets. They further alleged that the landlord, Mr John Gawthorp threw them out for no reason. However, Oxford County Court judge Charles Harris QC disagreed that they had been discriminated against. He said they were biologically men in law, that they had been perceived as a group of men dressed as women and therefore their actions had upset some of the landlord's other customers.

7. Dr. Renee Richards has warned other late transitioners like her to avoid her path:

"It's not something for somebody in their 40s to do, someone who's had a life as a man, - - - If you're 18 or 20 and never had the kind of (advantages) I had, and you're oriented in that direction, sure, go ahead and make right what nature didn't. But if you're a 45-year-old man and you're an airline pilot and you have an ex-wife and three adolescent kids, you better get on Thorazine or Zoloft or Prozac or get locked up or do whatever it takes to keep you from being allowed to do something like this."

8. Marc Mario lost his case on Mario v. P&C Food Markets

Dr. Ivan Fras was a psychiatrist retained by North American Administrators. Fras wrote Beginning Child Psychiatry (Taylor and Francis, 1988) with Paul L. Adams, and writes on psychological interventions with children. Fras "opined that the surgical removal of healthy organs, for no purpose other than gender dysphoria, would fall into the category of cosmetic surgery, and would therefore not be 'medically necessary.'"

"Mario claims that he was discriminated against not because he is transsexual, but because he failed to conform to gender stereotypes, which he claims is a form of sex discrimination actionable under Title VII. Specifically, Mario claims that his employer, having accepted him as a male, denied coverage for medical procedures that are closely identified with being female, and that his claims would have been approved had they been made by female employees. Without passing on the logic of this argument, we note that it is not clear that the denial of benefits, without more, constitutes an adverse employment action... It is also not clear that Mario, as a transsexual, is a member of a protected class."

9. All these questions, then an answer: J. Michael Bailey! This is part of Bailey's claim to fame: His are the objective observations of a "single heterosexual male" (p. 141).

10 . Far from propaganda, Professor Lynn Conway takes a compelling look at the issue of prevalence in "How Frequently Does Transsexualism Occur?"


11. Ray Blanchard wrote an obscure transsexual taxonomy favored by conservatives and those who identify as more than "just crossdressers," in which they are suffering from a sex-fueled mental illness Blanchard calls "autogynephilia."

12. Note "other men." Seligman clearly considers women like Deirdre McCloskey (diagnosed as an "autogynephile" later), to be men.

13. Note Seligman's use of Dr. McCloskey's male name again and second diagnosis of transvestic fetishism (crossdressing).

14. The old "quotation of a paraphrase" trick to make it look as if Dr. McCloskey is saying "sex sex sex" and "men men men."

All in all, Seligman subtly showed his conservative roots in his 1300-word contribution to the Human Biodiversity cause. I'm sure Bailey and Blanchard are even more pleased than they were with fellow member and professional homophobe John Derbyshire's work for the National Review.

From contributors in November 2003:

>On to the article references. These all smack of "shoot the wounded" to me:
>"The UBT's Last Gasp?"
>(a benign article about NYC's business tax, but it smacked of conservative
>arrogance to me. It helped me to stratify Mr. Seligman's conservative
>"Lowering the Bar" by Dan Seligman
>(one of the "shoot the wounded" examples. It is hosted at a
>"reverse-discrimination" site - beware)
>Commentary on Seligman's "The Crisis that Isn't" article by NLA:
>(the author of this mailing list posting apparently does not like
>Seligman, either - will try to find the original article)
>"Without Fear, Favor Or . . . Offensiveness" (or brains, apparently... -Ed.)
>(the Great Seer Seligman Speaks On the Many Benefits of Diversity. This
>guy is starting to sound like Rush Limbaugh without the padded gloves and
>"Why Journalists Can't Add"
>(maybe he has a point, but why pick on Ellen Goodman, mammograms and
>breast cancer as an example? Perhaps a bias is showing through here)
>Commentary on Seligman's "Why Recycling is Garbage", Forbes Magazine,
>11/17/97 article
>(now recyclers as well as women can't write, apparently. An interesting
>and non-sequitur irony is that there is a Dan Seligman who is affiliated
>with the Sierra Club!)
>"I sense some educational arrogance here on the part of Mr. Seligman. Was
>he, as a child, made to stand in the corner by Miss Miller in second grade
>English a little too often? Could be... Either that, or he was a real
>bully magnet." - Ed.
>(shame on me... I'll behave now. Back to work...)
>Barnes and Noble's page on "The Big Test: The Secret History of the
>American Meritocracy"
>(read Dan's one-liner under the "From The Critics" section. Yup, Dan never
>met a social program he didn't like)
>A book review by Dan Seligman
>(more minority bashing. Surprisingly, he stands up for a young Asian girl
>at the end of the story. Why? Well, she is wealthy of course! Apparently,
>in Seligman;s view, you are OK as a minority as long as you have bucks)
>"Mutant Ninja Lawsuits"
>(why pick on needy children, disguised at the attempt may be?)
>Seligman wrote an article titled "Blowing Whistles, Blowing Smoke" in 1999
>for Forbes. Although I could not locate the article, I did find the following:
>"Whistleblowing and Public Policy", Stuart Dawson, Business Ethics
>Research Unit, School of Management, Victoria University
>Here is an extract from that document:
>"An important issue is whether there are individual characteristics or
>personality types that might be more inclined to blow the whistle on
>organisational malpractice. There have been several attempts to identify
>social or psychological characteristics that might enable the recognition
>of potential whistleblowers, or the labelling of them as organisational
>deviants, ranging from disgruntled or self-interested malcontents
>(Seligman 1999) to strong willed high achievers with universalistic values
>and high levels of self esteem (Jos et al. 1989)."
>Finally: A White Sheet Connection?
>The Center for American Unity hosts a web site called http://www.vdare.com.
>There is a whole NEST of Seligman articles there! Type his name into the
>search box at that site.
>(I have no idea what the agenda of the CFAU is, but it certainly does not
>smell very good at first glance)
>Andrea referenced this site also. (Sorry, Andrea, I'm not stealing your
>One of which was interesting - the "Gambler Dan" one dealing with his
>"scientific evidence" showing intelligence differences between races
>Overall, it appears that Dan Seligman is just another narrow-minded neocon
>with a eugenics bent, who thinks that the world is full of
>entitlement-minded grubbers who are only out to take away someone else's
>hard-earned assets.
>Hmm, now his defense of Bailey is starting to make more sense...


Click here: October 1998: Bracey <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm>

Does Money Matter?
Would anyone ask this question in connection with, say, the military? The notion that money doesn't matter is what Alex Molnar, in his revealing and readable Giving Kids the Business, calls "the master myth," the myth that undergirds most privatization incentives.28 <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm#28a>
In any case, lots of people in 1998 have been saying that money doesn't matter. And when used as described in the June 1998 Kappan Research column, it doesn't. People who claim that money matters assume that the people running schools view those schools as educational institutions. As shown in the June column, that assumption is not valid where schools are seen primarily as community jobs programs. But, as a correspondent put it in a letter quoting Benjamin Barber, "Money can't by itself solve problems, but without money few problems can be solved. Money also can't win wars or put men in space, but it is the crucial facilitator. It is also how America has traditionally announced, 'We Are Serious About This!' "29 <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm#29a>
The tenacity with which people cling to the idea that money doesn't matter is quite remarkable. In the October 1958 issue of Fortune magazine, one Dan Seligman, apparently a staff writer, constructed a measure he called "teacher-days," which is not clearly described but appears to be the number of days a year a teacher taught multiplied by the number of teachers. Combining this measure and measures of spending, Seligman concluded that efficiency was declining even as per-pupil costs rose. The increasing costs were related in part to declining class size, which, Seligman thought but could not prove, had no bearing on achievement.30 <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm#30a>
In this 1958 article Seligman drew close to an important insight, but he considered it worthy of only a parenthetical comment: "The steel industry's new facilities have brought it a steadily rising output. The industry's productivity has been rising at an average of 3 or 4 percent a year. . . . No comparable economies are visible in the education industry (nor are they visible, of course, in most of the other service industries)." Of course.
In the 40 years since his article appeared, Seligman has switched magazines, but not mindsets. In the 15 June 1998 issue of Forbes, he declares that there are "solid data telling us that spending more on education does not, by and large, translate into kids learning more."31 <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm#31a> Seligman contends that the 1966 study Equality of Educational Opportunity, better known as the Coleman Report, proved this. Coleman, of course, claimed that his report meant that we would have to spend even more money if we wished to improve the achievement of poor and minority children, but Seligman's interpretation is the usual one.32 <http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kbra9810.htm#32a>
In 1958 Seligman put his faith in better use of space in schools and in such technologies as Skinner's teaching machines and the like. In 1998 he puts his faith in vouchers. The cult of efficiency has been replaced by prayer.


It seems that political correctness has caught up with Fortune magazine, the formerly hard-nosed American business publication. Daniel Seligman, outspoken columnist on matters touching IQ and race, among others, has been axed as a regular columnist. Seligman wrote the excellent A Question of Intelligence(1992).

Click here: NIXON WHITE HOUSE TAPES- Release 1 <http://www.talkbank.org/data/MOVIN/nixon/0docs/abbreviations.html>
Seligman appears to be on these tapes.

Conversation No. 452-4
Date: February 19, 1971
Time: 10:07 am - 10:48 am
Location: Oval Office
The President met with George P. Shultz, Paul W. McCracken, Peter G. Peterson, Hedley W. Donovan, Robert Lubar, Daniel Seligman, William Bowen, Gilbert Burck, Lawrence Mayer, and Louis Banks; the White House photographer was present at the beginning of the meeting
Beach site
Photograph of meeting