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Maxine Petersen and transgender people

Maxine E. Petersen-Lee is a Canadian psychologist and prominent supporter of disease models of gender identity and expression. Petersen is transgender and is best known for being quoted by J. Michael Bailey in The Man Who Would Be Queen saying, “Most gender patients lie.”


Petersen earned a master’s degree from University of Toronto in 1986 with a thesis titled “Male gender dysphoria and criminality.” Petersen then worked at Toronto’s notorious Clarke Institute, making a gender transition in 1991. Petersen worked closely with Ray Blanchard, Betty Steiner, and Robert Dickey at “Jurassic Clarke,” as the facility was known for its regressive views and policies. Petersen was called an “ace clinician” by Bailey. Petersen and spouse had two children before divorcing. Since starting a new relationship, Petersen sometimes uses the surname Petersen-Lee. Petersen has lived in Innisfil, Ontario and participated in motorsports competitions.

Biographer Zagria Cowan outlined just a few of the ways Petersen was involved in gatekeeping:

In 2000, she and Robert Dickey denied Synthia Kavanagh approval for SRS in that, being in prison, she could not do a Real Life Test. In the same year they were quoted in Vivian Namaste’s book defending the requirement that a trans person should do a year’s Real Life Test before starting hormones, and as critical of activists demanding hormones and surgery as a right. In September 2003 Maxine testified at an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that government funding should be re-instated for SRS. In November 2003 she resigned from HBIGDA X (Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, now WPATH) when her boss Ray Blanchard did because it criticized Michael Bailey’s book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, 2003, an act which she described as ‘political correctness’. She now lists her name as Maxine Petersen-Lee and offers private counselling.

Resignation from HBIGDA (2003)

Petersen was part of the committee that revised the HBIGDA Standards of Care in 1998. Petersen resigned from the organization when boss Ray Blanchard did.

From: Maxine Petersen
Sent: 11/5/03 8:10 AM
Subject: Letter of Resignation
November 4, 2003

Walter J. Meyer, III., M.D.
President, Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association
Department of Psychiatry
University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555-0189

Bean Robinson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association
1300 South 2nd St., #180
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Dear Drs. Meyer and Robinson:

I am writing today regarding the letter sent on behalf of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Board of Directors and Officers in response to a letter from a number of transsexual Internet activists who have taken exception to the work of Professor J. Michael Bailey.

As a transwoman and a member of the committee that was responsible for the 1998 revision of the Standards of Care, I am intensely saddened and shocked that the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association has taken such an irresponsible action. I have worked for more than twenty-one years for the betterment of hundreds of transsexual patients/clients and have consistently supported healthcare funding for sex reassignment surgery in my home province. I have also published a number of papers on the treatment of transsexual individuals.

As recently as September of 2003 I testified against our government at a Provincial Human Rights Tribunal in support of a number of complainants seeking to have funding for sex reassignment surgery restored to our publicly funded Provincial healthcare plan.

The actions of the Board in this matter have tarnished the reputation of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. By failing to grasp the importance of scientific research to be above the political correctness that is so pervasive in our society, you have perhaps unwittingly but clearly sent a signal to other researchers that they “dare not” explore certain areas of research for fear of the same or similar threat to their career. If there has been any breach of ethical standards, it is up to Northwestern University to investigate these allegations, and that is what they are in the process of doing.

I am certain not one of us wants to see the day when politics trumps scientific inquiry. I have noted recently the considerable justifiable concern expressed by scientists in the U.S. about the Federal Government interfering with or even hinting at withdrawal of funding for research in sexology and the chilling effect this appears to have had on researchers. It is ironic that the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association seems to have taken a page out of the book of the Bush government and done exactly the same thing.

Regrettably, your actions leave me with no option but to resign my membership in the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association.


Maxine Petersen, MA, C. Psych. Assoc.
Coordinator, Gender Identity Clinic
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Lecturer, University of Toronto,
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry


Zagria (July 4, 2011). Maxine Petersen (195?–) psychologist. A Gender Variance Who’s Who

Johnson, Micheline (2017). A History of Trans-People. In A History of Trans, a Canadian Perspective.

Influx (June 2, 2008). CAMH Support Group, Part 2. I’m In Flux.

Bailey JM (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press ISBN 978-0309084185

Namaste VK (2000). Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. University of Chicago Press, 199-201. ISBN 978-0226568102

Selected publications by Petersen-Lee

Petersen M, Stephens J, Dickey R, Lewis W (1996). Transsexuals within the Prison System: An International Survey of Correctional Services Policies. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 14:219–229, 1996.<219::AID-BSL234>3.0.CO;2-N

Levine SB et al. (1999). The Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality. Volume 11, 1999 – Issue 2Pages 1-34.

Petersen M (1998). Review: FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society by Holly Devor. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. Toronto Vol. 7, Iss. 2,  (Summer 1998): 166-169.

Petersen ME, Dickey R (1995).  Surgical sex reassignment: A comparative survey of International centers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, volume 24, pages135–156 (1995).

[Publications under the name Leonard H. “Len” Clemmensen]

Stermac L, Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH, Dickey R (1991). Group therapy for gender-dysphoric heterosexual men, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 17:4, 252-258.

Blanchard R, Steiner BW, Clemmensen LH (1989). Prediction of Regrets in Postoperative Transsexuals. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, February 1, 1989.

Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH (1988) A test of the dsm‐III‐R’S implicit assumption that fetishistic arousal and gender dysphoria are mutually exclusive. The Journal of Sex Research, 25:3, 426 432.

Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH, Steiner BW (1987). Heterosexual and homosexual gender dysphoria. Archives of Sexual Behavior. volume 16, pages139–152.

Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH, Steiner BW (1985). Social desirability response set and systematic distortion in the self-report of adult male gender patients. Archives of Sexual Behavior 14, 505–516.

Blanchard R, Steiner BW, Clemmensen LH (1985). Gender dysphoria, gender reorientation, and the clinical management of transsexualism. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(3), 295–304.

Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH, Steiner BW (1983). Gender reorientation and psychosocial adjustment in male-to-female transsexuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior 12, 503–509.

Clemmensen LH (1990). The “Real Life Test” for Surgical Candidates, in Blanchard R, Steiner BW (eds). Clinical management of gender identity disorders in children and adults (pp. 121-135). ISBN 978-0880481878

Clemmensen LH (1986). Male gender dysphoria and criminality. University of Toronto, Unpublished master’s thesis, 1986.

Blanchard R, Steiner BW, Clemmensen LH (July 1985). Gender Dysphoria, Gender Reorientation, and the Clinical Management of Transsexualism. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(3):295-304.

Blanchard R, Clemmensen LH, Steiner BW (1983). Gender reorientation and psychosocial adjustment in male-to-female transsexuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior 1983 Dec;12(6):503-9.


Maxine Petersen-Lee, M.A., C. Psych.

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