• Northwestern University
    Northwestern University
  • Anti-LGBT
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Prof. Bailey has been the source of significant controversy relating to his opinions on “queer science” and, more specifically, his heavily criticized opinions and publication on trans-sexuality. At a 2003 book tour for example, Bailey played audio recordings of men’s voices, asking the audience to determine which one is gay. When, “the crowds inevitably picked out the voice with exact articulation and lispy ‘S’ sounds,” Bailey responded with “precisely!”[1]

2003 was also the year Bailey’s book, and the greatest source of controversy surrounding him, “The Man Who Would be Queen,” was published. The book was initially criticized as the four trans-gendered women referenced in the book intended to be counseled by Bailey, but were in fact being unwittingly used as research subjects. Some of the conclusions that Bailey reached included that transsexuals are “especially motivated to shoplift,” are “especially well-suited to prostitution,” and “not very successful at finding men willing to commit to them.”[2] Further criticism of Bailey’s theories revolved around his assertion that transsexual women fall into one of two categories. Either they “are extremely feminine gay men or are sexual fetishists who are erotically obsessed with the image of themselves as women.”[3]

Bailey’s assertions have also been accused of being decidedly racist, arguing points like “Hispanic people might have more transsexual genes than other ethnic groups do,” based on his observation of “the large number of Latina transsexuals.” He also asserts that “gay men’s pattern of susceptibility to certain (but not all) mental problems reflects their femininity.” No data was presented to support these theories.[4]

A university investigation into Bailey following his book’s controversial reception resulted in his stepping down as chairman of the psychology department at Northwestern, where he remains a professor.[5]

[1] Beirich, H., Moser, B. (Dec. 31, 2003). Northwestern University Psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey Looks Into Queer Science. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2003/northwestern-university-psychology-professor-j-michael-bailey-looks-queer-science

[2] Ibid.

[3] Davis, A. (Dec. 8, 2004). Northwestern Sex Researcher Investigated, Results Unknown. Windy City Times. Retrieved from http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=6810

[4] Roughgarden, J. (May 28, 2004). Lots of sex but a lack of science. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/lots-of-sex-but-a-lack-of-science/189033.article

[5] Carey, B. (Aug. 21, 2007). Crticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/health/psychology/21gender.html

Departmental Contact

Richard Zinbarg, Chair of the Psychology Department


  • The Man Who Would Be Queen (2003)

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