The American Psychological Association Division 44 (The Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues) was founded in 1985 to represent sexual orientation issues within and beyond the Association. The Division sponsors 9 committees and 3 task forces in order to fulfill its mission.
Many of the problems raised by publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey intersect with the upcoming battle over depathologizing gender diversity. Many of the political gains made by gays and lesbians can be directly linked to the decision to depathologize homosexuality by the American Psychological Association in 1973. Bailey, Blanchard, and Lawrence promote a taxonomy that plays into the outmoded idea that gender variance is an expression of a psychosexual pathology.
Nicknamed DIV 44, they maintain an online presence here:
The official name as it stood in 2004 still does not include “Transgender,” suggesting DIV 44 is woefully behind the learning curve regarding the complex relationships involving aspects of gender variance and sexuality. Unfortunately, into this vacuum of ignorance has poured an infestation of Clarke Institute psychologists with a taxonomy of gender variance to promote and an axe to grind.
James Cantor and the Clarke Institute infest DIV 44
James Cantor is a notably virulent representative of the transphobia rampant at the Clarke Institute and in pockets of resistance within this psychology trade group.
Cantor has clear political aspirations in his field. Cantor was probably involved in orchestrating an event in August 2003, where DIV 44 President James Fitzgerald inexplicably gave an award to Cantor’s mentor Ray Blanchard of the Clarke Institute for his “contributions” on gender identity.
As noted by sociologists like Ekins, Blanchard’s “science” is yet another example of that tradition within the medical model and positivist science which seems overly preoccupied with classification, in the service of diagnosis, etiological theorizing and the management of “disorders.” Blanchard has another protégé named Anne Lawrence, who vigorously defends the diagnosis of “autogynephilia” that Ray Blanchard created. The similarities between Blanchard’s work on gender variance and pre-1973 “science” about the pathology of homosexuality are striking.
In 2003, Cantor had an incident placed on his personnel record after heckling a transgender presenter invited to the Clarke Institute. Ironically, the presenter was there to work on repairing the historically strained relationship between that mental institution and the Toronto transgender community. The Clarke Institute is nicknamed “Jurassic Clarke” for its regressive policies regarding access to health services for gender-variant clients. Though it has since changed its name, The Clarke has not shaken the sociobiological stigma of its namesake, renowned eugenicist Charles Kirk Clarke, and the Canada’s notorious policies toward “the unfit,” including the GLBT community.
Cantor praises J. Michael Bailey in the name of DIV 44
James Cantor wrote a glowing review of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey for their Summer 2003 newsletter. Cantor and Bailey are both protégés of Ray Blanchard. Bailey considers himself an adherent of evolutionary psychology and claims that “evolutionarily, homosexuality is a big mistake,” and that homosexuality may represent a “developmental error.”
http://www.apa.org/divisions/div44/vol19nu2.pdf (PDF: requires reader)
The review appears on page 6, or you can read it on this site’s page on James Cantor.
Cantor’s shill review was later used in promotional material by Bailey’s publisher, Joseph Henry Press. In Summer, 2003, the APA DIV 44 Newsletter printed a review of Bailey’s book by James Cantor of Toronto’s Clarke Institute. This review was in turn used in promotional materials by Joseph Henry Press on their website. Publicist Robin Pinnel failed to include Cantor’s name with the blurbs, suggesting that Cantor’s views represented all of DIV 44’s assessment of the Bailey book. Cantor’s name was added after DIV 44 protested.
Below is a sample of the wide-ranging concerns about this book’s ideology:
Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association president Eli Coleman called it “bad science.”
Virtually every transgender advocacy group has expressed concerns about the biased and sensationalized storytelling.
Concerned psychologists have written numerous responses.
Dr. Madeline Wyndzen responds in DIV 44’s Spring 2004 newsletter
Dr. Madeline H. Wyndzen has written several essays outlining flaws in Blanchard’s thinking and methodology. She was invited by DIV 44 to respond with a full-length article, which is available here:
A personal and scientific look at a mental illness model of transgenderism
by Madeline H. Wyndzen, Ph.D. (pen name)
Division 44 Newsletter, Spring 2004, page 4.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Wyndzen originally submitted a brief letter to the editor in response to a recent book review of The Man Who Would Be Queen in this Newsletter. I invited her to expand on that letter here.
If a man sought therapy due to unhappiness over his attraction to other men, a therapist would likely diagnose him with Depression. If a transsexual sought therapy due to unhappiness over his or her biological sex, a therapist would almost certainly diagnose him or her with Gender Identity Disorder. Whereas gay men and lesbian women are diagnosed for how they suffer , transsexuals are diagnosed for who they are. As a psychologist and transsexual, I find that the mental illness label imposed on transsexuality is just as disquieting as the label that used to be imposed on homosexuality.
Similar to antiquated ideas suggesting that homosexuality is a deviant sex-drive, Ray Blanchard (1989, 1991) proposed that transsexuality is a mis-directed form of either heterosexuality (named “autogynephilia”) or homosexuality. Rather than asking the scientifically neutral question, “What is transgenderism?” Blanchard (1991) asks, “What kind of defect in a male’s capacity for sexual learning could produce … autogynephilia, transvestitism …?” (p. 246).
Blanchard’s model is featured prominently and uncritically in J. Michael Bailey’s (2003a) recent book, The Man who would be Queen: the Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. A balanced portrait of Blanchard’s key empirical findings (1989) would reveal that they: (1) have never been replicated, (2) failed to include control groups of typically-gendered women, (3) failed to covary the acknowledged age-differences from ANOVA, and (4) drew conclusions about causality from entirely observational data.
Inconsistencies between transsexuals’ self-portraits and Blanchard’s model are reconciled by Bailey (2003a) with the suggestion that some transsexuals are deceptive: “There is one more reason why many autogynephiles provide misleading information about themselves that is different than outright lying. It has to do with obsession” (p. 175). Aware of concerns that some may be troubled by his portrayal of them, Bailey has said, “I cannot be a slave to sensitivity” (quoted in Wilson, 2003), and “ There is good scientific evidence that says you should believe me and not them” (quoted in Dreier & Anderson, 2003). In a critique of Bailey’s book available on my website, I provide alternate interpretations of this evidence:
Bailey (2003b) contends that negative reactions to his book are merely “identity politics” that are a “hindrance” to “scientific truth” (Bailey, 2003b). Contrasting his objectivity with others’ politics reminded me of “81 Words,” a radio documentary about the removal of homosexuality from the DSM (Spiegel, 2002). Those who diagnosed ‘homosexuality’ as a mental illness genuinely felt that they were helping their clients. I know that Ray Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey, and others are similarly concerned about the welfare of transsexuals. I only wish they would see the bias in their theories and diagnoses. When I listened to “81 Words,” I was struck by how foreign it sounded to talk about being gay or lesbian as a disorder. I am too young to remember that time. My hope is that someday my children will think it just as unfathomable that I was once diagnosed and treated for “Gender Identity Disorder.”
Bailey, J. M. (2003a). The Man who would be Queen: the Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press, Washington DC.
Bailey, J. M. (2003b, July 19). Identity politics as a hindrance to scientific truth , presented at the conference of the International Academy of Sex Research. Abstract retrieved July 16, 2003, from http://www.iasr.org/meeting/2003/ABSTRACTS2003.doc
Blanchard, R. (1989). The Concept of Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male Gender Dysphoria. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177(10), 616-623.
Blanchard, R. (1991). Clinical Observations and systematic studies of autogynephilia. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 17(4) , 235-251.
Dreier, S. and Anderson, K. (2003, April 21). Prof’s book challenges opinions of human sexuality. The Daily Northwestern, retrieved December 31, 2003, from http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/
Spiegel, A. (2002, January 18). 81 words. This American Life , retrieved January 18, 2002 from http://www.thislife.org/pages/descriptions/02/204.html
Wilson, R. (2003, June 20). Dr. Sex’: A human-sexuality expert creates controversy with a new book on gay men and transsexuals. Chronicle of Higher Education , retrieved June 27, 2003, from http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i41/41a00801.htm
http://www.apa.org/divisions/div44/2004Spring.pdf (PDF: requires reader)
Transgender Task Force mission statement
DIV 44 has been taking steps to be more responsive to the needs of transgender people interacting with mental health professionals, including the mission statement below:
One of the most important steps DIV 44 can take is to learn about the context of the Clarke Institute’s historically adversarial relationship with the clients they were supposed to serve.
The upcoming controversy
The American Psychiatric Association (http://psych.org) is currently gearing up to revise the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the DSM-IV-TR to the DSM-V (due around 2010).
A reader notes:
In short American Psychological Association (APA.org) are our friends, but American Psychiatric Association (PSYCH.ORG) are our
oppressors, the ones who who re-pathologize homosexuality if they thought they could get away with it. I added their target date – 2010 – so as not to raise false hopes of a constructive change.Personally I believe GID will be rendered irrelevant for practical purposes (by increasing circumvention of the HBIGDA SOC) before GID is abolished.
One of my research assistants saw similarities in this story of behind the scenes manipulation of APA guidelines with the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence controversy.
The full text of this roundtable discussion transcribed by June L Roberts can also be found here.
As a community, we must begin working with APA DIV 44 to counter the distortions and pseudoscience that the Clarke Institute has used to dominate this important debate. I encourage any of you with an interest in this matter to contact the following community leaders: