Robin Ferrier Materese vs. transgender people

Materese in 2018. Source: NIST

Robin Ferrier Materese (born 1976) was a publicist at Joseph Henry Press, the publishing arm of the National Academies Press in 2003. At the time, she was known as Robin Pinnel and was listed as author of some of the defamatory materials about sex and gender minorities put out in support of their book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. In 2020, she reached out to clarify that she authored only one of the pieces attributed to her. She also asked that this page include the statement below.

Statement from Robin Ferrier (2020)

On June 24, 2020, Robin Ferrier issued the following statement:

In 2003, I worked as a publicist at the National Academies Press / Joseph Henry Press. I was not part of the editorial decision making or editorial process. My job was to promote the authors / books that we published and help the authors get book reviews, media appearances, event bookings, etc. J. Michael Bailey’s book, ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen,’ was one such book. Ultimately, the Press’ decision to publish that book, and stand by it when legitimate concerns were raised, was the impetus behind my decision to leave that job. 

I joined the Academies because I believed in what it did as an organization. I believed in the power of reputable science. I still believe in the power of reputable science. However, thanks to a number of events in the last few years, and to my recent correspondence with Ms. James, my eyes have been opened to the dangers and damages that can come from bad science. 

When Ms. James tells me stories like that of Leelah Alcorn, I feel truly sick to my stomach that I played any role in promoting that book and spreading the damaging ideology it espoused.

Press and promotional materials

She has stated she was author of the following piece:

  • Timeline of Significant Moments in Transgender History

She said in 2020, “I was listed as the media point of contact on the press release and my name was on the reviewer copy cover letter; however, the text used in all those materials was pulled from pre-approved text written by the senior leadership team at the Joseph Henry Press.”

Those materials sometimes attributed to her include:

  • Gay, Straight or Lying? Science has the answer (March, 21 2003)
  • New book on homosexuality, transsexualism and science (April 2, 2003)
  • Reviewer copy cover letter (April 28. 2003)
  • Press release (April 28, 2003)
  • Classified ad in gay publications (undated)

Timeline of Significant Moments in Transgender History

[by Robin Pinnel in 2003, original unattributed and undated]

In recent years, transgender people have grown from a marginalized population to an increasingly major part of our mainstream culture. Slowly but surely, transgender, transsexual, and intersexed individuals have claimed not only their legal rights, but their place in the public eye. Below is a timeline of some significant moments in transgender history during the past 10+ years.

1992: 

  • Release of The Crying Game
  • Veronica Vera opens Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls

1993: 

  • The first appearance of RuPaul on MTV
  • Minnesota passes the first law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. The Minnesota statute establishes protections for transgender people under the rubric of sexual orientation.
  • Cheryl Chase founds the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA)

1994: 

  • Release of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

1995: 

  • Release of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

1996: 

  • Release of The Birdcage

1998: 

  • Theater debut of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • California becomes the second state to amend its state hate crimes law to include transgender and transsexual people. The California legislation adds “gender” to the list of protected categories. Since then, Vermont, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have also amended their state hate crimes statutes to include transgender people.

1999: 

  • PBS debuts the documentary You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men.

1999: 

  • Release of Boys Don’t Cry
  • The first annual Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

2001: 

  • Release of the movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • CBS debuts The Education of Max Bickford, a drama about a college professor going through a midlife crisis. Included in the cast of regulars is Erica, who used to be the title character’s best friend, Steve. This is the first transgender person to appear regularly on a major network television program.
  • Rhode Island becomes the second state with a non-discrimination law explicitly protecting transgender people. The state’s non-discrimination statute isamended to explicitly include “gender identity or expression” as a protected category.
  • Two transgender-themed movies (Hedwig and Southern Comfort) receive awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Southern Comfort wins top honors for best documentary and Hedwig’s director, John Cameron Mitchell, wins the dramatic directing award.

2002: 

  • Dame Edna becomes a regular on Ally McBeal
  • A new WB program, Everwood, features a male child who was born a hermaphrodite, neither a boy nor a girl.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides writes Middlesex, in which the main character (Calliope Stephanides) is a hermaphrodite.

2003: 

  • A Florida judge awards custody of two children to a transgender father, a man who was born and started out in life as a female.
  • The California Assembly honors the first transgender recipient of its “woman of the year” award.
  • HBO airs Normal, in which Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson plays a middle-age Midwest factory foreman who’s celebrating his 25th anniversary with wife Jessica Lange when he blurts that he can only continue living if he can live as a woman.
  • Joseph Henry Press, trade publisher for the National Academies, publishes The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by J. Michael Bailey
  • Showtime debuts its fact-based A Soldier’s Girl, in which a male Army recruit falls for a transgender nightclub performer who is living as a woman.

Gay, Straight or Lying? Science has the answer

by: Robin Pinnel, Joseph Henry Press
[She clarified in 2020 this was “pulled from pre-approved text”]

Are gay men genuinely more feminine than other men? (Yes.) Are gay men really drawn to more feminine professions? (Yes.) Are all male transsexuals women trapped in men’s bodies? (No. Some of them are men who are just plain turned on by the idea of becoming women.)

In THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN: THE SCIENCE OF GENDER-BENDING AND TRANSSEXUALISM, author J. Michael Bailey, an internationally recognized researcher and expert on the origins of human sexual orientation, explores many of the stereotypes society typically associates with gay men and transsexuals.

“Male femininity is a phenomenon that most people find interesting but which has been ignored by science due to concerns ranging from social conservatism to sensitivity — or less charitably, political correctness,” Bailey explains. “For example, despite widespread stereotypes that gay men tend to be feminine, research related to the stereotype has only recently been conducted.”

Based on his own original research, Bailey’s book is grounded firmly in science. But as he demonstrates, science doesn’t always deliver predictable or even comfortable answers.

“Many gay men will not be comfortable with the assertion that they do, in fact, walk and talk different from a straight men,” Bailey asserts. “Many transsexuals do not like the idea that there are two kinds: the typical ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’ and the autogynephilic transsexual, who is a man who is so turned on by the idea of himself as a woman that he wants to become one. But my conclusions come from years of research.”

Bailey has studied, interviewed, and made friends with hundreds of men whose sexual preferences and behavior run the gamut from butch to feminine to just dressing in women’s clothing for heterosexual pleasure and men who only feel fulfilled by being transformed surgically into women. He has studied feminine men in the industrialized world as well as those in the developing world who either are feminine or who perform ritualistic “feminine” sexual behavior that may shock the average reader.

The conclusions to which Bailey came after years of psychological profiles, statistical studies, interviews, and comparison of his research with that fellow scientists, may not always be politically correct, but they are scientifically accurate, thoroughly researcher, and occasionally startling. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN is a fresh and frank look at a compelling topic.

The full-text of THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN is available to read for free online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10530.html

PRAISE FOR THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

“…recommended reading for anyone interested in the study of gender identity and sexual orientation. … Bailey has produced a thoughtful book that cites recent scientific studies on homosexuality and transsexuality. It is written, however, in a style that makes it easily accessible to any reader.” — OUT MAGAZINE, March 2003

“All of Bailey’s musings are interesting and provocative, and his evidence is often powerful… Bailey has written a book worth reading. …it will have its readers, both pro and con, thinking and talking…” — FRONTIERS, March 14, 2003

“…fascinating revelations… In a personable and straightforward manner, [Bailey] describes his research techniques and reproduces the questionnaires given to his subjects. … Despite its provocative title, a scientific yet superbly compassionate exposition.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS, January 2003

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Michael Bailey is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and an internationally recognized researcher and expert on the origins of human sexual orientation. His studies of sexual orientation in twins have been widely cited in the scientific literature and are mentioned in virtually all introductory psychology textbooks. His work has also been featured in a variety of newspapers, including THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in NEWSWEEK and DISCOVER. He is also widely known to those interested in sex research as the creator and owner of the listserv SEXNET.

ABOUT THE JOSEPH HENRY PRESS

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN is published by the Joseph Henry Press, trade publisher for the National Academies–National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. The Joseph Henry Press can be found online at http://www.jhpress.org. [3/21/03]

new book on homosexuality, transsexualism and science

Emailed by Robin Pinnel to multiple recipients on April 2, 2003.

from http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/imc-atlanta-audio/2003-April/000188.html [Imc-atlanta-audio]

new book on homosexuality, transsexualism and science

Robin Pinnel rpinnel at nas.edu <mailto:rpinnel@nas.edu>

Wed, 2 Apr 2003 09:23:08 -0500

Dear Currents of Resistance:

I’m sure, like many programs, right now you’re focusing on war coverage, butwhen things quiet down — or when you’re looking for something new to talk about– I hope you’ll consider having J. Michael Bailey on your show. Bailey, a leading gender researcher at Northwestern University, is the author of THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN: THE SCIENCE OF GENDER-BENDING AND TRANSSEXUALISM. (THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN is published by the Joseph Henry Press, trade publisher for the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.)

I noticed one of the topics you like to discuss are social justice issues. I believe this book touches on these issues because it talks about the science behind homosexuality and transsexualism — and the rights of transgender and homosexual citizens is definitely a major social justice issue. Bailey’s book becomes even more important when you consider that many base their opinions about these “rights” on whether or not they believe homosexuality and transsexualism is a lifestyle choice or a genetically determined trait. I think the best way to tell you more about this book is by pasting the press release into this message:

—————————————————————-

Gay, Straight, or Lying? Science Has the Answer

Leading Sex Researcher Explores Stereotypes of Gay Men, Transsexuals

Are gay men genuinely more feminine than other men? (Yes.)

Are gay men really drawn to more feminine professions? (Yes.)

Are all male transsexuals women trapped in men’s bodies? (No. Some are of them are men who are just plain turned on by the idea of becoming a women.)

In The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism,author J. Michael Bailey, an internationally recognized research and expert on the originals [sic] of human sexual orientation, explores many of the stereotypes society typically associates with gay men and transsexuals.

“Male femininity is a phenomenon that most people find interesting but which has been ignored by science due to concerns ranging from social conservatism to sensitivity — or less charitably, political correctness,” Bailey explains. “For example, despite widespread stereotypes that gay men tend to be feminine, research related to the stereotype has only recently been conducted.”

Based on his own original research, Bailey’s book is grounded firmly in science. But as he demonstrates, science doesn’t always deliver predictable or even comfortable answers.”Many gay men will not be comfortable with the assertion that they do, in fact, walk and talk different from a straight men,” Bailey asserts. “Many transsexuals do not like the idea that there are two kinds: the typical ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’ and the autogynephilic transsexual, who is a man who is so turned on by the idea of himself as a woman that he wants to become one. But my conclusions come from years of research.”

Bailey has studied, interviewed, and made friends with hundreds of men whose sexual preferences and behavior run the gamut from butch to feminine to just dressing in women’s clothing for heterosexual pleasure and men who only feel fulfilled by being transformed surgically into women. He has studied feminine men in the industrialized world as well as those in the developing world who either are feminine or who perform ritualistic “feminine” sexual behavior that may shock the average reader.

The conclusions to which Bailey came after years of psychological profiles, statistical studies, interviews, and comparison of his research with that [sic] fellow scientists, may not always be politically correct, but they are scientifically accurate, thoroughly researcher [sic], and occasionally startling. The Man Who Would Be Queen is a fresh and frank look at a compelling topic.

—————————————————————-

I’m also attaching a two-page document that lists what’s NEW AND CONTROVERSIAL about this book, a praise sheet, and a timeline of important moments intransgender history during the past 10 years.

(See attached file: controversial ideas.doc)

(See attached file: praise.doc ) [PDF file: requires reader]

(See attached file: timeline.doc) [PDF file: requires reader]

Bailey will be in Atlanta on Tuesday, April 8th. I’d love to arrange for him to do an in-studio interview while he’s there. If you can’t have him in-studio on the 8th, I hope you’ll consider having him do a phone interview at some point in the future after war coverage dies down.

Best,

Robin Pinnel
Publicist
The National Academies Press / Joseph Henry Press”
500 Fifth Street, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20001
phone: 202-334-1902
fax: 202-334-2793
e-mail: rpinnel@nas.edu
Internet: www.nap.edu / www.jhpress.org

Attached files

One of our investigators retrieved the three attached files mentioned in the message above and sent the following analysis:

What’s really important about these documents is one was written by Bailey, on his outdated little Mac, on December 3, 2002, one by Ann Merchant on January 13, 2003 with the tentative title “What sort of person devotes their life to the study of bugs?” (though that could be a vestige of the previous Word doc she was editing — to be fair to her), and Robin Pinnel’s own badly-distorted “timeline” (dated March 26, 2003) of what she considers milestones in transgender history for the past decade. These docs slipped under the radar by the way Pinnel had sent them as in-line uu-encoded attachments. I decoded all three and was able to open them directly in Microsoft Word and see all three authors stats and electronic signatures, as well as see their thinking in their own words before the book went to press.

I’m attaching all 3 original docs in this e-mail, as well as faithfully reproduced PDF’s I made to post on the web. Here’s the source I found, if anyone claims these aren’t authentic (http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/imc-atlanta-audio/2003-April/000188.html). Lynn, maybe you can also see if other versions existed in that CIA Internet database you found a while back. These docs are very damning, and really show some of the backroom thinking that was going on. JHP and Bailey won’t be able to back away from their own words on what they “meant” and what they “intended” when it’s all right here in black and white!

Attachments:

“controversial ideas” by J. Michael Bailey

controversial ideas [PDF file: requires reader]

Reviewer’s copy cover letter

Joseph Henry Press
April 28, 2003
  
The Man Who Would Be Queen
The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism
by J. Michael Bailey 
  
Per your request, enclosed you will find the a copy of our lead title this season, The Man Who Would Be Queen, a captivating and controversial new book by J. Michael Bailey, one of the country’s leading researchers on gender.
  
In this thoroughly researched and engaging book, you will learn more than you ever knew before — and I don’t mean more than you ever wanted to know, I mean more than you ever could have believed you’d be fascinated by knowing — about what makes some boys, teenagers, and men feminine. 
  
Bailey has studied, interviewed, and made friends with hundreds of men whose sexual preferences and behavior run the gamut from butch to feminine to just dressing in women’s clothing for heterosexual pleasure and men who only feel fulfilled by being transformed surgically into women. He has studied feminine men in the industrialized world as well as those in the developing world who either are feminine or who perform ritualistic “feminine” behavior that may shock the average reader.
  
The conclusions to which Bailey came after years of psychological profiles, statistical studies, interviews, and comparisons of his research with that fellow scientists, may not always be politically correct, but they are scientifically accurate and groundbreaking. And with the publication of this book, the field of gender studies will never be the same.
  
Anyone who reads The Man Who Would Be Queen will surely be captivated as I was, and as I’m sure you will be. I hope you will be able to review this book. I look forward to seeing tear sheets when the review(s) run. 
  
Best, 
(signed) 
Robin Pinnel
Publicist 
  
The NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 
  
Phone: 202 334 1902
Fax: 202 334 2793
E-mail: rpinnel@nas.edu 
http://www.jhpress.org

References

Pinnel R (April 3, 2003). new book on homosexuality, transsexualism and science. from http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/imc-atlanta-audio/2003-April/000188.html [Imc-atlanta-audio]

[Pinnel R] (March 21, 2003). Gay, Straight or Lying? Science has the answer (21 March 2003) http://glbchat.com/Home/news.asp?articleid=4126 http://www.outintoronto.com/home/news.asp?articleid=4126

Pinnel message (2 April 2003)

  • Pinnel sent this out to drum up publicity for Bailey in Atlanta. Bailey eventually just resorted to showing up at Emory University for free (and stinking of booze).

Attachments:

“controversial ideas” by J. Michael Bailey

controversial ideas [PDF file: requires reader]

“praise” compiled by Ann Merchant

praise [PDF file: requires reader]

“timeline” by Robin Pinnel

timeline [PDF file: requires reader]

Press release (28 April 2003)

Classified ad

This classified in gay mags:

The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by Michael Bailey. “Recommended,” Out Magazine. Available at www.jhpress.org and bookstores.

https://issuu.com/7days/docs/042303-vol.8-no.35 (page 75)

Responses

See Caitlyn Antrim‘s letter to Pinnel.


Biography

Robin Ferrier Materese (née Robin Pinnel) is a University of Virginia graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in English, and the former Daily Cavalier student newspaper editor. She also has a Master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins. Pinnel used to work for literary agent/lawyer Gail Ross. After leaving Joseph Henry Press in 2005, she worked in communications positions at Choice Hotels International, Johns Hopkins University, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Lambda Literary Foundation panel

She was scheduled to appear at the same 2003 Lambda Literary Foundation event in Provincetown which listed Bailey:

THE INFLUENCE OF TRANSGENDER WRITING ON LESBIAN AND GAY LITERATURE
Gail Leondar Wright, Moderator; Toni Amato, J. Michael Bailey, Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, Gordene McKenzie, Nancy Nangeroni, Riki Wilchins [I contacted Gail Leondar-Wright, who stated this was cleared up and Bailey was disinvited.]

Pinnel continued generating publicity long after she was made aware of the book’s bigotry.

References

See also Lynn Conway’s commentary on this defamation.

Advocate advertisement (10 June 2003)

National Academies Press website (retrieved June 2003)

web link: NAP site

open letter [pdf]

press release [pdf]

LinkedIn: Robin (Ferrier) Materese

Note: an earlier version of this page included inaccuracies that were corrected and clarified with the subject’s input in 2020.