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Stephen Mautner vs. transgender people

Stephen Mautner is an American publishing executive responsible for fact-checking and releasing one of the most transphobic books ever written, The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey.


Stephen M. Mautner was born on April 13, 1952. Mautner earned a bachelor’s from Brown University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Mautner met spouse Ellen in Chicago and married there in 1986. They moved to Rockville, Maryland in 1989 for Mautner’s new job, and Mautner joined the National Academies around 1991. The Joseph Henry Press imprint began operation in 1992. After it was disbanded in 2008, Mautner remained Executive Editor of the National Academies Press (NAP), publisher for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C. Mautner has helped develop online projects to make those works more accessible to general audiences.

Anti-transgender activity

Mautner was responsible for fact-checking and publishing psychologist J. Michael Bailey’s 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.

Mautner edited and published what is widely considered the most unscientific and deliberately offensive book on gender diversity since Janice Raymond’s 1979 screed The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Mautner was completely surprised by the 2003 response, which shows how poorly he handled his editing responsibilities on this controversial book.

After selling about 4,200 print copies, The Man Who Would Be Queen went out of print in 2008. It remained available for purchase as a PDF on the National Academies site.

The question of how this salacious bigotry got past Steve Mautner and got published by the National Academies Press remains unanswered. National Academies employees Mautner and Barbara Kline Pope refuse to disclose who did the “peer review,” because it’s clear Mautner’s choices were Bailey cronies. In the wake of the 2003 protests, Mautner even defended this book as a “responsible work.”

Open letter from Stephen Mautner (2003)

On 24 June 2003, Mautner sent out the following open letter. See below for Mautner’s letter as a PDF. Notations and links in the text are mine.

In March of 2003 the Joseph Henry Press published J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, a work intended to inform general audiences about one scholar’s efforts to understand aspects of homosexuality and gender identity within a psychological framework. Some readers have vehemently disagreed with the book, calling it defamatory and offensive to the transgender community. For example, they contest the implication that most transsexuals fit the categories described by Bailey.

Overall, the book has been greeted with a wide range of responses, from high praise to harsh criticism. Kirkus Reviews called the book “a scientific yet superbly compassionate exposition” (January 2003). Publishers Weekly said “Bailey writes with assuredness that often makes difficult, abstract material–the relationship between sexual orientation and gender affect, the origins of homosexuality and the theoretical basis of how we discuss sexuality–comprehensible. He also, especially in his portraits of the women and men he writes about, displays a deep empathy that is frequently missing from scientific studies of sexuality” (April 2003). However, the same review in Publishers Weekly goes on to say that “Bailey tends towards overreaching, unsupported generalizations.” And a reviewer in Frontiers, a Southern California gay news magazine, states that the author “doesn’t need to inject his biases as often as he does” (March 2003). A sense of the polarity of opinion about the book can also be derived from a scan of the reader responses to the work on, where among the forty-three responses posted on June13, 2003, twenty-seven gave the book a 1-star (lowest) rating and eleven gave it a 5-star (highest) rating, with only five responses in between.

The Joseph Henry Press (JHP), publisher of Bailey’s book, is an imprint of the National Academies Press engaged in publishing books on science, engineering, and medicine for popular audiences. JHP books are individually authored works, each carrying a notice that the opinions expressed are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies. JHP follows clear decision rules for selecting books for publication and for scientific review of manuscripts. The work in question was reviewed as a well-crafted and responsible work on a difficult topic, reflecting one approach to a legitimate avenue of scholarship and research.

None of us involved in the publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen imagined the extent of the controversy that its publication would trigger. We deeply regret the fact that some have found the book harmful or offensive. Our intention in publishing it was certainly not to offend any individual or group, but rather to offer insight into how one scientist has arrived at his views on certain aspects of sex and human behavior.

The appropriate response to this endeavor, we believe, is not to silence the scientist or to censor the expression of his findings and opinions. Rather we hope that the publication will inspire a productive discussion about future directions and methodologies in research on issues of gender and sexuality, and thereby promote the proper course of future scientific investigation on this important but very sensitive topic.


Stephen Mautner
Executive Editor
The National Academies Press
The Joseph Henry Press

Correspondence with Steve Mautner

Below is selected correspondence about Mautner’s editorial choices.

My response of 16 July 2003

Mr. Mautner:

I have recently read an open letter with your name affixed regarding your responsibility for the publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. The version I read was electronic and was unsigned and undated.

Please provide me with verification that you are responsible for this letter, as well as the date(s) it was written and released by JHP, as these dates will be important in understanding what you knew about Professor Bailey at the time you wrote the letter.

Thank you.

Mautner’s reply of 18 July 2003:

The date of the open letter was June 24, 2003. I will ask that the date be added to the letter.


Stephen Mautner
Executive Editor
The National Academies Press/Joseph Henry Press

2 August 2003 letter to Mautner from prominent trans scientists

August 2, 2003

Stephen Mautner, Executive Editor
The National Academies Press
The Joseph Henry Press
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Mautner,

We are writing in response to your recent open letter regarding your publication of the Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. You are probably now aware that several individuals who were subjects of Bailey’s research have filed formal complaints with his institution to the effect that he apparently did not seek review or approval by Northwestern’s Institutional Review Board for the research involving human subjects described in detail in his book. In particular, they were not informed that they were subjects of his research nor did they sign consent forms as is required by federal regulations governing protection of human research subjects.

Federal regulations define research as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge”. Human subject “means a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual”, where interaction “includes communication or interpersonal contact between investigator and subject”. The Joseph Henry Press describes Professor Bailey’s work as based on his own research, and the book contains detailed interviews with human subjects.

In recent years publishers of scientific research involving human subjects have established procedures to assure that research studies whose results they publish have complied with ethical standards for the treatment of human subjects, and that authors have stipulated in writing that the conduct of their research was in compliance with those legally mandated standards. For example, instructions to authors for Nature Genetics state:

In cases where a study involves the use of live animals or human subjects, the Methods section of the manuscript should include a statement that all experiments were performed in compliance with the relevant laws and institutional guidelines, and should identify the institutional committee(s) that have approved the experiments. A statement should also be included that informed consent was obtained for any experimentation with human subjects. Referees may be asked to comment specifically on any cases in which concerns arise.

Similar requirements are adhered to by other major publishers of scientific research, and we have appended the guidelines for several publications, including JAMA, the New England Journal of MedicineScience, and journals of the American Psychological Association which has its own comprehensive statement of Ethical Principles that provides for the protection of human subjects.

In your letter you say that “Our intention in publishing it was … to offer insight into how one scientist has arrived at his views on certain aspects of sex and human behavior”, and that “we hope that the publication will inspire a productive discussion about future directions and methodologies in research on gender and sexuality…” In regard to how Professor Bailey “arrived at his views” and “discussion about … methodologies”, we have two questions to ask of you.

1. Does the National Academies Press – Joseph Henry Press require that authors affirm in writing that their research involving human subjects has been approved by an appropriate institutional review committee and that informed consent was obtained from human subjects involved in the research?

2. If such a policy is in place for the Joseph Henry Press, did J. Michael Bailey stipulate to having adhered to that policy?

If you do not have a policy that requires authors to stipulate that they have adhered to ethical standards for research involving human subjects, we strongly urge you to develop one along the lines of other publishers of scientific research. Note that Genetics Nature invites comment from reviewers in cases where there may be concern about the ethical use of human subjects. It is clearly inappropriate for the National Academies to publish and promote the results of research that fails to conform to federally mandated requirements for the protection of human subjects in research.

We appreciate your assistance in answering our inquiry and in addressing these serious concerns about the conduct of the research in question.


Barbara Nash., Ph.D.
Professor of Geology and Geophysics
University of Utah

Lynn Conway, Ph.D.
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita
University of Michigan
Member, National Academy of Engineering

Deirdre McCloskey, Ph.D.
UIC Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, and English
University of Illinois at Chicago
Tinbergen Professor of Philosophy, Economics, and Art and Cultural Studies,
Erasmus University of Rottterdam

Ben Barress, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Biology
Stanford University

Joan Roughgarden, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Sciences
Stanford University

c: Bruce Alberts, President, the National Academy of Sciences
Harvey V. Fineberg, President, the Institute of Medicine

Conway et al. (2003)

My letter of 12 August 2003:

Mr. Mautner:

Thank you for adding the release date to your June 24 letter regarding your responsibility for bringing out the Bailey book under the Joseph Henry Press imprint. Your letter states:

“JHP follows clear decision rules… for scientific review of manuscripts. The work in question was reviewed as a well-crafted and responsible work.”

As you may know, this was not the expert assessment of Dr. John Bancroft, the Director of the Kinsey Institute, who stood up immediately after a Bailey presentation in July and told a lecture hall full of sex researchers that Bailey’s book “is not science.”

Please provide the names and credentials of those who participated in the scientific review of this manuscript and came to the conclusion it was well-crafted and responsible.

I look forward to learning the names of the scientific reviewers you selected who disagree with Dr. Bancroft.

Thank you in advance.

cc: Suzanne Woolsey

My letter of 21 August 2003:

Mr. Mautner:

I have not yet received a reply to my August 12 email requesting the names and credentials of those who participated in the “scientific review” of J. Michael Bailey’s manuscript and came to the conclusion it was “well-crafted and responsible” (see below).

I already have my copy of the dismissive form letter from Dr. Woolsey advising everyone with opposing views to present and publish evidence and reasoning. I’d appreciate the courtesy of a personal reply with this evidence so I can do just that.

cc: Suzanne Woolsey, Bruce Alberts, Harvey V. Fineberg

Dr. Dana Beyer’s correspondence of 30 July 2003 with Mautner

Dear Mr. Mautner:

[…] I recently discovered that your press was located here in DC, and I would like the opportunity to visit with you to discuss J Michael Bailey’s recently published book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen.”

Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing from you.
Dana Beyer, M.D.

Mautner’s reply on 7 August 2003

Dear Dr. Beyer,

I apologize for the delay in responding.

Given the deluge of mail we have received concerning Dr. Bailey’s book and our wish to catalog the responses, I would much prefer it if you could submit your comments in writing.

Stephen Mautner

My follow-up with Mr. Mautner one year after he brought out The Man Who Would Be Queen

15 March 2004

Mr. Mautner:

Lest you think we have forgotten about you and your JHP team, I wanted to update you on the J. Michael Bailey situation and your historical role in this matter.

Unlike you, the Lambda Literary Foundation had the integrity to admit last week they had made an “unprecedented” error in their initial assessment of The Man Who Would Be Queen. Though it was a “humbling experience” according to their Executive Director, they had the integrity to withdraw support for the book when it became clear to them it was not science but propaganda in service of the neo-eugenics movement.

I also wanted to update you on an ongoing problem at As many lazy editors and publishers are wont to do, you cited reviews in your 24 June 2003 open letter as an accurate gauge of response to this book:

Publishers increasingly use these unconfirmed reviews edited by an unnamed editor as evidence about a book’s reception.

“As of June 13, 2003 there were 27 1-star (lowest) ratings, and 11 5-star (highest) ratings, with only 5 in-between.”

Since Amazon has rewritten history by removing 18 of the reviews you cite in March, you need to revise your letter:

“As of June 13, 2003 there were 9 1-star (lowest) ratings, and 11 5-star (highest) ratings, with only 5 in-between.”

This new statistic suggests that the world is evenly split on this book. That does not reflect the 1300+ signatures gathered in a few days from people in 35 countries who protested the book, or the consensus of almost every professional organization that deals with gender variance.

Clearly, Amazon needs to be more transparent in the process, as do editors like JHP and publishing trade groups like Lambda Literary Foundation. These organizations are covering book promotion with a façade of objectivity and editorial rigor that simply does not exist.

As I have said all along, this is being waged as a war of propaganda and not a science fight. Once again, we have more evidence.

I can assure you that you will be held personally accountable for what is the most spectacular misstep of your career as an editor, and we will most certainly get to the bottom of who gave you the go-ahead on this book. I’d bet money they are listed here:

This is going to be painstaking and methodical, and no stone will go unturned in determining who allowed this book to be published by the National Academies Press.

Additional Mautner information

Here’s a rather inaccurate description from 2004 detailing what Mautner does (emphasis mine):

Stephen Mautner, executive editor of Joseph Henry Press, an imprint of the National Academies Press, was the fourth panelist. The Joseph Henry Press was founded to look for authors outside the national academies and to contract with individual authors to write books on science topics for general audiences. Editors look for serious scientific books that will have commercial success. Mautner sees a great future for work that takes content from the National Academies and massages it into a form accessible to a wider audience. How do editors at the Joseph Henry Press hire writers? Currently, they recruit very few book writers because they can only award contracts to six or eight authors a year. However, Mautner said that they are willing and eager to give writers who have a compelling record of excellent journalism a chance to write their first book.

Mautner sent his children to St. Albans, an exclusive Washington DC-based private prep school, using the money he made disseminating Bailey’s tripe.

Anyone with additional information on Steve Mautner’s responsibility for the review and publication of Bailey’s defamatory book is encouraged to contact the author of this site.

According to anti-trans activist Alice Dreger, as of August 2006, the book had sold about 4200 copies and had about 900,000 visits to the electronic version.


Weintraub, Judith (April 27, 1997). Intertwining Roots. Washington Post.

(Stephen Mautner to Michael Bailey, copy to Alice Dreger, p.e.c., August 11, 2006).


CPNAS (May 7, 2013). Stephen Mautner.


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