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James Cantor: history of transphobia

Psychologist James Cantor is an anti-transgender extremist based in Canada. Cantor has decades of history attacking transgender people while claiming to be a supporter.

The archival information below dates to the turn of the century. See the main James Cantor profile for more.

Archival information

“The stronger one is invested in the outcome of a scientific endeavor, the more vulnerable is one’s ability to see straight.”

— James M. Cantor

James Cantor is a frequent supporter of J. Michael Bailey, Ray Blanchard, and Anne Lawrence who is part of the clique of sexologists at Toronto’s notorious Clarke Institute.

James M. Cantor, PhD
Clinical Sexology Services
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health—Clarke Site
250 College Street
Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8 CANADA
(416) 535-8501 ext. 4078

Cantor praises Bailey

Bailey and Cantor seem to be cut from the same cloth: smug, unprofessional, and downright nasty when they perceive their “authority” is challenged.

Cantor leapt to Bailey’s defense regarding Bailey’s lectures exploiting gender-variant children. Bailey writes:

A gay psychologist and sex researcher, James Cantor, wrote in response to Roughgarden’s screed:

“I have seen Bailey give this lecture before (at least, an earlier version of it). Again, this was the one with several openly lesbian women and gay men in the audience, including me. None of us felt at all offended. What Roughgarden describes as laughter was actually an affectionate recognition of the truth. Effeminate speech is much more common among gay men than straight men, and telling the two extremes apart is like night and day.”

Cantor’s book review

The following review appeared on page 6 of the Summer 2003 American Psychology Association Division 44 Newsletter (PDF: and is being used by Joseph Henry Press in PR for The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey.

Parts in blue are being used in Joseph Henry Press promotional material

The Man Who Would Be Queen
by J. Michael Bailey
The National Academies Press, 2003
Review by James M. Cantor

Division 44 Newsletter   Summer, 2003
page 6

J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would be Queen represents the first scientifically grounded book about male femininities written for a general audience. In three sections—devoted respectively to gender atypical boys, adult gay men and those MtF transsexuals who are attracted to men, and then fetishistic cross-dressers and those MtF transsexuals who are not attracted to men (autogynephilic transsexuals)—Bailey sympathetically portrays these peoples’ experiences and explores the roots of their development.

Readers seeing these topics for the first time will come to understand these mixes of traditionally masculine and feminine characteristics, free from the sensationalism they receive in the popular media. Readers more familiar with these areas will come to appreciate that none of these human conditions—hetero-/homosexuality, cross-dressing, gender non-conformity, and transsexuality—can be fully understood on its own. Human sexual behavior must be understood in its entirety, if it is to be understood at all.

In introducing us to vivid and engaging people, Bailey takes us on a tour that would leave few readers unchanged. Just as interesting, however, were the hints about how Bailey’s own ideas became changed by his experiences in working with these issues. He notes he “became less skeptical, if not yet convinced” of the idea that the correct intervention for gender atypical children is to change society (rather than the children), a philosophy he learned from thinkers including “Clinton Anderson, scientist Simon LeVay, and journalist Phyllis Burke” (p. 26). Likewise, he notes having become more openminded about the veracity of transsexuals’ memories of desiring to change sexes even in childhood, after discussing it with Ken Zucker (the head of the Child and Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic at C.A.M.H. in Toronto). Watching the evolution of a scientist’s thinking is particularly welcome in a field where so many other authors on these topics polarize and entrench.

Bailey’s engaging style and clear fondness for the people he describes invite all readers to appreciate these peoples’ experiences better, on both scientific and human levels. Although respectful, Bailey describes his subject matter warts and all. He unapologetically includes potentially controversial topics including the strong preference in the gay male community for masculine sexual partners and against effeminate men, the well-established finding that highly gender atypical boys nearly always become gay men in adulthood (and the shame many adult gay men experience in recalling their own childhood femininity), the frequency of sex trade work among androphilic transsexuals, the difficulties many MtF transsexuals experience in passing as women, and the challenges to the politically correct idea of MtF transsexuals literally being “women trapped in men’s bodies.” Yet, Bailey notes specifically that there is nothing objectively shameful in, for example, childhood femininity or sex trade work. It is the combination of Bailey’s willingness to challenge ideas based only on prejudice as well as ideas based only on political correctness that establishes the book as an even-handed introduction, rather than as a mouthpiece for either the socially conservative right or academic left. Writing as an openly heterosexual and non-transsexual man, Bailey’s respect for the people he describes serves as a role model for others who still struggle to accept and appreciate homosexuality and transsexuality in society. In the following passage, Bailey writes about Cher, an MtF transsexual:

Cher has been having a rough time lately. She has fallen out with Amy, a homosexual transsexual who used to be her closest friend. Cher thinks that once Amy got her surgery, she no longer needed her, and she feels used. When she goes out with Juanita, who has become her best friend, men are constantly approaching Juanita (who is 15 years younger and very sexy), but they approach Cher cautiously, if at all….She is also broke, and is being sued by her relatives for her father’s inheritance. Despite her troubles, she continues to visit her circle of (primarily transsexual) friends, helping them plan their transition, listening to their boyfriend problems….She is a good friend to them, although her advice is not always appreciated or heeded. I think about what an unusual life she has led, and what an unusual person she is. How difficult it must have been for her to figure out her sexuality and what she wanted to do with it. I think about all the barriers she broke, and all the meanness that she must still contend with. Despite this, she is still out there giving her friends advice and comfort, and trying to find love. And I think that in her own way, Cher is a star.” I think she is too, and I am grateful to Bailey for having introduced her.

POSTSCRIPT: As I write this postscript, it is has been four weeks since The Man Who Would Be Queen has been released. Of all the ideas Bailey presents, only the meaning of autogynephilia appears to have drawn any controversy. Although his book is unapologetic in its accuracy, Bailey notes quite distinctly which ideas are well-established scientifically and which are hunches and suspicions to help readers tie the data together. It is unfortunate that a vocal few (vocal over the Internet, anyway) do not actually address Bailey’s points, referring only to rumors about the content of the book and to assumptions regarding Bailey’s motives. I can recommend only that readers refer to the content of the book itself (available to read on-line, free of charge at ), explore Bailey’s own webpage ( ), and decide for themselves.

Cantor harasses trans speaker

Kyle Scanlon is Trans Programmes Coordinator at 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. The 519 is where all trans youth are encouraged to go in order to avoid The Clarke Institute. Cantor was compelled to send a letter of apology to Scanlon following the event, and the letter was to remain in his file for 7 years.

Below is Scanlon’s original complaint letter about what happened at CAMH.

To Whom it Concerns:

Let me begin by saying that I was grateful and excited to be invited to present a workshop at the LGBT Staff Caucus event at CAMH. Not only was I thrilled that trans issues were considered important enough to be part of the agenda, I was extremely gratified that the Staff Caucus wanted them addressed not by a GIC expert, but by someone with lived experience as a transsexual who has also had invaluable community service experience with members of the lower income, street-involved trans community. I accepted the offer immediately. 

But my elation quickly turned to frustration as I attempted to facilitate my workshop. I would like to register a complaint about what happened. 

I was running a workshop that was clearly listed in the program as being “the perspective of a transsexual activist”. I did not set myself up as someone who was an expert in gender theory. I was attempting to address the “lived experience” of trans people that might lead them towards needing support from the Addictions Program, or that might affect their chances of receiving treatment. 

Almost immediately -while I was still running through definitions of sex, gender, and intersexuality, one gentleman in the audience began aggressively interrupting to offer his “expertise”. He spent at least five minutes detailing “specific types of intersexuality” which was not germane to my workshop at all. This gentleman seemed to be trying to demonstrate his authority on this topic. I ultimately had to cut him off in a gentle yet firm manner in order to continue. He did continue to interrupt on a few more occasions, generally “defensively”, all in that same manner that he was more of an “authority” on the subject than I was, despite the fact that it’s my lived experience. It was extremely rude and honestly unnerving. 

Next in the workshop I began addressing my concerns as an activist about “the real life test” and how the GIC is still using the year long life test rather than the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care approved 3 month life test, as well as to address HOW this real life test impacts on the lived experience of transsexuals. I discussed a variety of concrete issues faced by many trans people as they undergo the Real Life Test – high rates of suicide, low self-esteem, police harassment, street-involvement, inability to access shelters and hostels, being fired from jobs, the inability to find new work, losing key relationships, being kicked out of the family home, and losing access to their children. The audience was extremely empathetic, vocally so. At that point, this man interrupted again, very loudly and aggressively “Before you all JUDGE the GIC….”

At this point – thankfully – he was interrupted by a wonderful member of the audience calling him on his rude behaviour and asking him to identify himself. He replied “I’m Doctor James Cantor with the GIC.” A minor skirmish ensued, and I managed to utilize my facilitation skills to bring everyone back to the topic at hand. Again, his behaviour took valuable time away from my workshop. All in all, I think I lost about 15-20 minutes to James Cantor’s views, and having to “deal” with him. That’s close to one quarter of my total time to present. This was completely unacceptable. Keep in mind my workshop was only 90 minutes long, and since people strolled in late, I was already pressed for time. 

I should mention that during the entire workshop, Peter Coleridge was sitting in the room. He was supposedly there to act as “moderator” of the workshop. He did nothing to control Cantor, nor to make any apologies to me. I felt hung out to dry, except for the great support of the members of the audience. It was all extremely confrontational, it took time away from my workshop, it distracted me as a presenter and it disrespected me as a community member who was INVITED to offer my particular experience and opinion. If Cantor was there to defend the GIC practices, then he shouldn’t have been there. The purpose of the forum was to air views that are not conventionally heard. He certainly didn’t seem to be there to learn or to listen. 

His behaviour hindered my workshop, it put me on edge, and it made for an uncomfortable atmosphere for all those who were there to hear my presentation. I believe an invited guest deserves better treatment from CAMH staff. My workshop deserved ALL the time it was allotted and the men and women who attended the workshop deserved to hear the presentation that they specifically chose to attend. 

CAMH says it’s opening itself up to community input and constructive feedback, but here’s an example of what happens to a workshop presenter who tries to offer it. 

I was offended, angered, and frustrated by these events. This experience underscored my conviction that CAMH has only been paying lip-service to wanting to address the trans community’s concerns about the GIC if this is how they treat an INVITED GUEST. 

The one “good” thing that came from all of this… almost everyone in the audience approached me personally later to say “thanks to today, we now have a better understanding of the kind of shit that trans people face trying to access service at the CAMH GIC.” So, for that, I do have to thank James Cantor and Peter Coleridge. They provided a look at what really happens inside the GIC doors in a way that my workshop on its own could never have done justice.

Scanlon described the response from CAMH:

I do think there is some gray area here of semantics. I was told that after my claims were investigated it was found that I had experienced harassment, but NOT that Cantor had harassed me. The woman seemed to be saying – in fact I think she did once say – that anytime a person feels it, it’s real. But I don’t know that anyone ever said “Cantor harassed you.” Cantor was made to apologize to me in a letter, but there he was also clever to apologize for my feeling harassed and did not in any way acknowledge he harassed me. Like I said, semantics. I definitely was told this would stay on his file for 7 years. I have no idea where else I would have gotten an idea like that unless it was specifically stated to me.

Cantor subsequently has tried to downplay the incident.

Other Cantor data

Cantor clearly has political aspirations in psychology, taking up several positions of influence, especially with people just starting their careers.

See also A Report to Lynn Conway by Kristin of a recent lecture at “The Clarke”

A report on a Cantor lecture at the Clarke Institute

 (07-01-2003) LINK: Clinician, Heal Thyself (via

Letter to American Psychology Association’s Division 44 about appearance of endorsement of Cantor’s views:

 (08-05-2003) LINK: Letter to APA Div 44 (by Lynn Conway and other academics)

Cantor on TLC show on transsexuals

Cantor in his own words on discussion list:

Letter to DIV 44 leadership that led to correction of Bailey endorsement used by Joseph Henry Press:

DIV 44 data:

Science Committee
The Science Committee encourages research on sexual orientation issues. The Committee has recently published a directory entitled: Directory of Researchers and Scholars of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and transgender Issues in Psychology. 
To obtain a copy of the Directory or to be listed in the Directory contact: 
Division 44 Science Committee
Sean Massey
4410 Burnet Road Austin, TX 78756
The Chairs of the Science committee is: James M. Cantor.

Cantor on a program in Toronto with the rest of Blanchard’s crew. Cantor’s topic at a Toronto program was:

July 9, 2003 – Is Transsexualism Really Independent of Sexual Orientation?
Presenter: James M. Cantor, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Sexology Services, Law & Mental Health Program

Monitor on Psychology

* “Cultural evolution of gender identity–changing the construction of identity,” with Ronald F. Levant, EdD, James M. Cantor, PhD, Joanne E. Callan, PhD, and Pamela Trotman Reid, PhD.

Malyon-Smith Scholarship Award

The Division sponsors a scholarship fund to grant cash awards for graduate student research. The chair is James M. Cantor PhD.
If you would like more information about this award, please click here. 
If you would like to apply for the application, please visit the Malyon-Smith Scholarship Award 2003 website. Here you will find information, guidelines, and procedures involved in the application of the scholarship.

Malyon-Smith Scholarship
The Division sponsors a scholarship fund to grant cash awards for graduate student research. The Malyon-Smith Scholarship Fund is a living memorial to two former Presidents of the Division. The fund is our way of encouraging graduate research into sexual orientation issues. If you are a graduate student and conducting your graduate research on gay, lesbian, or bisexual issues, why not apply for an award? To apply for this award, or to see more detailed information, please click here – Malyon-Smith Scholarship Award.
Donations in all amounts are encouraged and appreciated.  They can be sent to James M. Cantor, PhD at the address below.

Div 51 2002 Program

James M. Cantor, PhD: Transgender Issues; The More Things Change…

APA Monitor VOLUME 30 , NUMBER 4 April 1999 lists Cantor on the following ad ho committees and task forces:

CAPP Subcommittee on Prescription Privileges

Working Group on the Developing Psychology in the Marketplace

2000 APA convention

4213 Symposium: Training in Psychology – Students’ Needs, Current Opportunities, and Academic Alternatives

Chair: James M. Cantor, PhD, Law and Mental Health Program, Toronto, ON, Canada

Click here: McGill Reporter <> – as a grad student – resetach on impotence associated with prozac – lists self as, of course – a sex therapy student
Click here: Toronto shemales strut their stuff, part of national quest for rights <> 
some Cantor quotes on “shemales” – doesn’t think they exist- everyone really wants srs evenually -lists % of people who come into the Clarke and go on to SRS
Click here: <> 
THE PRESCRIPTION AGENDA – CONSTANTLY EVOLVING From the very beginning, those of us involved in shaping the prescription agenda have been clear that the key to the profession’s ultimate success would be the active support of our future generations of clinicians and academicians. James Cantor, the APAGS liaison to CAPP, recently authored a formal “resolution of support” for prescription privileges which has now been formally adopted by APAGS. Click here: Outside Online – News <> 
Dr. James Cantor, a psychologist at the University of Toronto’s Gender Identity Clinic, told the Ottawa Citizen this week that if gender is based on hormonal status, then Dumaresq is, indeed, a woman. “If you took a blood sample to measure the levels of sex hormones in a post-operative transsexual, that person would resemble a woman, not a man,” Cantor explained. The doctor declined to give the Citizenan opinion, however, on whether an athlete who is genetically male but hormonally female should be allowed to compete in women’s sporting events. “Hormone therapy does reduce, if not practically eliminate, the amount of testosterone in the blood, but it’s unknown how this affects athletic performance,” he said. “It just hasn’t been studied. Until we really have the science to say one way or the other, it’s anybody’s guess. One can reasonably argue either position.”

Cantor as “expert”

The post below gives a good sense of where Cantor is coming from: discouraging and turning away clients who seek medical services, discounting the first-hand reports of trans women in favor of those who share Cantor’s ideology, and the typical supposition of gay male superiority, suggesting he’s OK, but this subset of gays is disordered. One can see the same kind of thinking in the writings of Jim Fouratt and Tammy Bruce: assimilated queers who got their rights and feel entitled to deny us ours.

From:  James Cantor 
Date:  Sun Oct 5, 2003  6:01 pm
Subject:  RE: [NewPsychList] tx for gender identity d/o

This is not the approach I would take or recommend. I have worked for several years in the Gender Identity Clinic here at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (formerly, the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry), and have now seen several hundred transsexuals in various stages of transition, including many who made the decision not to transition.

First, regarding diagnostic criteria, patient distress is not a criterion. If the person chooses to transition, s/he will require a lifetime of hormone therapy, a series of pretty major surgical interventions, and (depending on the assessment methods used) ongoing psychotherapy before, during, and after transition. For the psychologist (or other mental health professional) to make the appropriate referrals, the person will require a bone fide diagnosis. For people who live in areas with public health care systems (such as here in Canada), the diagnosis is required before the system will pay for the surgeries.

The desire not to diagnose GID comes from the understandable desire on the part of mental health professionals to avoid the stigma associated with having the diagnosis. I argue, however, that the problem is the stigma associated with “mental disorder.” If we cease to diagnose relevant conditions to avoid stigma, we are implicitly reinforcing the idea that such diagnoses are negative and to be avoided. The transsexual community is divided over this idea, and there appears to be a U.S. vs. rest-of-the-world split on this. I suspect that the split results from the U.S. not having insurance coverage for transition (and therefore having nothing to lose) while the rest of the world uses the diagnosis to argue that their health care systems should be covering surgery.

Second, no one has thus mentioned any of the relevant research with GID. I would caution anyone against treating someone without having the relevant training. Male-to-female transsexuals divide into two major types, usually called androphilic transsexuals and autogynephilic transsexuals. (The term autogynephilia has now been added to the DSM.) Androphilic MtF’s (also called homosexual transsexuals) transition very early in life, are remarkably feminine throughout childhood, are attracted to males, and have very high success rates after transition. Autogynephilic transsexuals tend to transition later in life (typically in their 30s or 40s), are externally unremarkable in childhood, are attracted to females, and having a more mixed adjustment after transition. Autogynephilia is extremely controversial within the transsexual community, because of the unfortunate myth that only androphilic transsexuals are “true” transsexuals, while the autogynephilic ones are just wannabes.

Because the person under discussion here is so young, s/he is mostly likely the androphilic type.

Next, what the patient here mostly likely needs the most is information. There are a great deal of mis-informative websites on transsexualism, and if the clinician does not provide the correct information, the patient will likely start running into the myths about transition on the web. Such information the patient will need is outcome data, diagnostic/surgical/hormonal outcomes, a >realistic< assessment of how well he would pass as a female, and a >realistic< assessment of the surgical and social risks. Only then will s/he ever be able to make an informed decision about how, whether, and when to transition (if at all).

As for the etiological aspects, the relationship between homosexuality and transsexuality is a little more complex. Androphilic transsexuality does appear to be related to male homosexuality. Some argue that androphilic transsexuality is an extreme form form of male homosexuality (or, depending on your point of view, that male homosexuality is an incomplete form of androphilic transsexuality). It is because of this relationship that some people call this type ‘homosexual transsexuality’. Autogynephilic transsexuality does not appear to be related to male homosexuality. Rather, it appears to be related to transvestic fetishism. That is, these people are erotically attracted to the idea of being female…like a cross-dresser who wants to appear female all the way down to the bone, rather than just by the clothes.

To wrap this up, is sounds like outside consultation might be best. An excellent compilation of experienced clinicians throughout the U.S. has been compiled by Anne Lawrence, MD, PhD, who is herself an openly transsexual MtF. Her website is annelawrence. com.

Best of luck.
– James

From:  James Cantor <James_Cantor@c…> 
Date:  Wed Sep 10, 2003  7:17 pm
Subject:  Neuropsychological characteristics of transsexual persons

> If we assume that gender differences in cognitive and attentional 
> abilities and processing speed arise out of biological differences, the 
> relevant gender norms to use would seem to be those of the person’s 
> original physical gender, not the one they subjectively experiences 
> themselves to be, or the one they may have transformed their body into. 

Not so simple.

1. There is more than one type of transsexuality (e.g., Blanchard, 1993), each of which has different correlates (e.g., Blanchard & Sheridan, 1992; Blanchard, Dickey, & Jones, 1995). One could reasonably expect these types to differ neuropsychologically with regard to which characteristics look male versus female.

2. People in sex transition are typically taking sex hormones, which has been shown to affect neurophysiological and neuropsychological measures (e.g., Kruijver et al., 2001). Although this has been tested in transsexuals directly (Van Goozen et al., 1995), relevant literatures also include neuropsychological differences associated with menopause, hormone replacement, anti-androgens (used to treat prostate cancer in men), and oral birth control.

3. It is unclear exactly what ‘transgender’ means. People with intersex conditions are a very different mix of characteristics than are transsexuals, and there are many different types of intersex conditions. Discussions (and research) are far more useful only after knowing exactly which condition is being considered.

4. Many transsexuals are also homosexual (Blanchard, Dickey, & Jones, 1995), and homosexual men and women neuropsychologically differ from heterosexual men and women (e.g., Gladue & Bailey, 1995; Wegesin, 1998). Much research on transsexuality unfortunately collapsed different types of transsexuals into a single group, obscuring any differences that could actually be sexual orientation differences.
– James