Maxine Petersen and transgender people

Maxine E. Petersen-Lee is a Canadian psychologist and prominent supporter of disease models of gender identity and expression. A transgender woman herself, she 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. She was called an “ace clinician” by Bailey. Petersen had two children with her first wife, later changing her surname to Petersen-Lee. She has lived in Innisfil, Ontario and participated in motorsports competitions.

Micheline Johnson wrote this biography in 2017:

Maxine Petersen (195?–), born Lem Clemmensen, was a lecturer at the University of Toronto and Coordinator at the Clarke Institute (later the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Gender Identity Clinic, where he often was the one who was more sympathetic to the trans patients. His 1986 masters thesis was Male gender dysphoria and criminality. He was married to a woman, and they had two children. In 1991 Lem transitioned as Maxine, while still working at the Gender Identity Clinic where she was her own supervisor. Michael Bailey says that after transition she never saw her children again. She was part of the committee that revised the Standards of Care in 1998. 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 Y. During 2003-2006, Lynn Conway’s site became a focal point (along with Andrea James’ TS Roadmap) for the investigation and exposure of the publication of J. Michael Bailey’s transphobic pseudoscience book by the National Academies. The investigation led to Bailey’s resignation as Chair of the Northwestern University’s Psychology Department, and to his eventual decline into professional indiscretions, disgrace and obscurity. The Bailey fiasco became a defining moment in trans history by exposing psychiatric theories about gender variance to be absurdly unsound, including those of academic psychiatrist Paul McHugh, M.D., a prominent National Academy member. Sadly the Academies never expressed regret for their misguided support and heavy-handed promotion of Bailey’s malignant science ‒ giving us ‘the silent treatment’ instead. They did, however, quietly remove Bailey’s embarrassingly unscientific book from the NAP website.

Resignation from HBIGDA

Petersen was part of the committee that revised the HBIGDA Standards of Care in 1998. She resigned from the organization when her 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

Reader response

Jennifer Booth writes in September 2003:

I have to disagree with a few things mentioned in the letter you received from “Ruth” on April 23, 2003 as posted on your website. I have known Maxine Petersen for 17 years and do think she is an “Ace Gender Therapist”. How much more informed can a therapist possibly be than to have gone through the change herself. She is also a wonderful person. I think Ruth was out of line mentioning Maxine’s former name, none of us would like that. I often run into Maxine in Toronto and occasionally share a conversation. I know for a fact that Maxine is very happy with her result and her life in general. Where ever “Ruth” got the idea that Maxine regrets her surgery is beyond me, nothing could be further from the truth. I would hope you would remove that statement or display my letter on your site for clarification. It sounds more like a patient holding anamosity for what ever reason. I didn’t mention that “Ruth” had placed that in a letter on your site, but did ask Maxine on a personal level how she felt about her new life and she couldn’t be happier. I believe her.


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

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.

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

Zagria (July 4, 2011). Maxine Petersen (195?–) psychologist.

Resources by Maxine Petersen

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

  • 416-994-1376 [archival]
  • [archival]

Facebook (

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 of FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society by Holly Devor”. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. Summer 1998.

Petersen M (1998). FTM: Female-to-male transsexuals in society. 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.

Ray Blanchard Ph.D. & Leonard H. Clemmensen M.A. (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 volume 14, pages505–516.

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 (1983).

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

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 July 1985.

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.