HBIGDA President blasts Bailey book

Urges assembled experts on transgenderism to “challenge bad science”

Release date: September 13, 2003

Ghent, Belgium -- The outgoing President of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) sharply criticized J. Michael Bailey’s recent book as an example of “bad science” about transgenderism.

Dr. Eli Coleman of the University of Minnesota made the remarks during his keynote speech at HBIGDA’s18th Biennial Symposium in Ghent, Belgium today.

Addressing an audience of the world’s foremost experts on gender identity, Coleman proposed a 10-point blueprint of current and future goals for the organization.

As he outlined the need to “promote sound and ethical research,” Dr. Coleman made a direct reference to The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University. The book has been widely denounced as scientifically unsound and deeply biased.

Dr. Coleman urged members to work with the transgender community to “end antipathy and distrust of researchers.” To illustrate what Dr. Coleman called “unfortunate setbacks” to ending this problem, he displayed the Bailey book cover. The book’s provocative title and image of masculine legs and feet in feminine shoes are widely considered to be deliberately insulting.

Referring to Bailey’s shoddy scholarship and deeply flawed research methods, Dr. Coleman emphatically declared: “We need to challenge bad science.”


Above: a slide from the President’s address
(image courtesy of Dr. Coleman)

Jamison Green, a writer and educator recently appointed to the group’s Board of Directors, said of Coleman’s speech: “He was urging HBIGDA as an organization and the membership as a whole (as individuals) to become more assertive in addressing social and political issues that affect transpeople.”

Following the speech, HBIGDA’s incoming President Walter Meyer, M.D. vowed to pursue Dr. Coleman’s 10-point plan.

Coleman’s 10-point plan

1. Promote sexual health including the elimination of barriers to sexual health.

2. Learn from other cultures

3. Let old paradigms die and new paradigms emerge

4. Provide access to optimal care

5. Provide training to allied health professionals

6. Promote sound and ethical research

7. End stigma and discrimination

8. Change laws and social policies

9. Change Religious Views

10. Promote Social Tolerance for Diversity

Dr. Coleman also cited important recent work done by HBIGDA, including expert testimony in a Florida custody case won by a transsexual father, and the need to fight renewed efforts by the religious groups which still stigmatize transpeople.

2005 update

In May 2005, Dr. Coleman reiterated his opinion about the Bailey book at the HBIGDA conference, calling it a "setback." For more, see Lynn Conway's report.

Further reading

For more on the J. Michael Bailey controversy, including his involvement in a conservative-run eugenics think tank and his ties to homosexual eugenics, please visit the following websites:

Investigation by Professor Lynn Conway


See her 2005 update as well.

Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence Clearinghouse