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David Sylva vs. transgender people

David Sylva is an American psychologist whose graduate work involved questionable studies about sex and gender minorities.


David M. “Dave” Sylva was born in July 1980. Sylva did graduate work with controversial Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey. Bailey is well known for work in the field of anti-LGBT eugenics, which Bailey euphemistically calls “parental selection of children’s sexual orientation.” Bailey’s other students at the time included Gerulf Rieger, Chris Skidmore, and Elizabeth Latty.

One of Sylva’s early projects was to claim that gay men can be identified by their stereotypical gait.

Bailey claimed for years that male bisexuality did not exist, stating that men are “gay, straight, or lying.” After taking money from the American Institute of Bisexuality, Sylva and Bailey grad students Jeremy Jabbour and Luke Holmes magically “discovered” bisexual orientation among men.

After the bisexuality organization paid Sylva to “discover” male bisexuality, Sylva’s 2012 dissertation was titled “Neural Correlates of Sexual Arousal in Bisexual, Homosexual, and Heterosexual Men.” Since that payoff, Sylva’s work has been used to shore up one of Bailey’s other claims: that women may not have a sexual orientation.

Impact on transgender clients at Kaiser

Following this amazing “discovery” with Bailey, Sylva then began working for insurance company Kaiser Permanente in California.


  • NPI Number: #1790106961
  • Medical license: PSY26122 (CA)

Though Sylva is a member of WPATH, sex and gender minorities should avoid getting healthcare from Sylva due to this professional affiliation with J. Michael Bailey and associated anti-trans psychologists.

Sylva coauthors


Safron A, Sylva D, Klimaj V, Rosenthal AM (2019). Neural Responses to Sexual Stimuli in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men and Women: Men’s Responses Are More Specific. Archives of Sexual Behavior 49, pages 433–445

Safron A, Sylva D, Klimaj V, Rosenthal AM, Li M, Walter M, Bailey JM (2018). Neural Correlates of Sexual Orientation in Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Homosexual Women. Scientific Reports. 8: 673

Safron A, Sylva D, Klimaj V, Rosenthal AM, Li M, Walter M, Bailey JM (2017). Neural Correlates of Sexual Orientation in Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Homosexual Men. Scientific Reports. 7: 41314

Jabbour J, Holmes L, Sylva D, Bailey JM (2020). Robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117 (31) 18369-18377

Klimaj V, Safron A, Sylva D, Rosenthal AM, Li M, Walter M, Bailey JM (2021). Sexual Orientation and Neuroanatomy: An MRI Study of Gray Matter Differences in Homosexual, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Women and Men.

Klimaj V, Safron A, Sylva D, Rosenthal AM, Li M, Walter M, and Bailey JM (2021). Comparing the Structure and Function of Social-cognition-related Brain Areas in Bisexual, Heterosexual, and Homosexual Women and Men. PsyArXiv, August 16

Sylva D, Safron A, Rosenthal AM, et al. (2013) Neural correlates of sexual arousal in heterosexual and homosexual women and men. Hormones and Behavior. 64: 673-84 DOI:

Rosenthal AM, Sylva D, Safron A, Bailey JM (2012). The male bisexuality debate revisited: some bisexual men have bisexual arousal patterns. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 41: 135-47

Rosenthal AM, Sylva D, Safron A, Bailey JM (2011) Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men revisited. Biological Psychology. 88: 112-5

Sylva D, Rieger G, Linsenmeier JAW, Bailey JM (2010). Concealment of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 39: 141-52


Elizabeth Cohen (June 30, 2007). Step by step, researcher looks for sexuality clues. CNN

Can you tell whether someone’s gay just by the way he or she walks?

David Sylva wants to know. He straps bright red lights to people’s bodies and videotapes them walking in the dark. He then shows the videotape to observers (who won’t be biased by clothing or hairstyles since the walker is in the dark) and asks them to guess the walker’s sexual orientation.

Sylva’s observations focus on the physical characteristics of the individual’s stride, such as the closeness of the knees.

Why does Sylva, a graduate student at Northwestern University, care so much about how gay people walk? Because he’s one of a growing number of researchers who think sexual orientation may be as basic as how you walk, something inborn that you don’t choose.

David Sylva, a graduate student at Northwestern University, has been studying individual walking styles to see if homosexuals’ strides are different from those of their straight counterparts. He hopes the data will give support to the nature side of the sexual orientation argument.

Connie Lee (July 6, 2007). Research points to inherit [sic] trait for homosexuality; some dispute. The Purdue Exponent. [archive]


Northwestern University (

  • Psychology Department graduate students
  • [archive]
  • Though Sylva had a page dedicated on Bailey’s website, it lists no research interests.

World Professional Association for Transgender Health (

Kaiser Permanente (

  • Redwood City: David Sylva [listing now removed]
  • Los Angeles: West Los Angeles Medical Center
  • Los Angeles: Health Education and Psychiatry Offices
  • David Sylva, PhD SPC