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Arch Sex Behav. 2008 Jun;37(3):366-421. doi: 10.1007/s10508-007-9301-1.

The controversy surrounding "The man who would be queen": a case history of the politics of science, identity, and sex in the Internet age.

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  • Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, Suite 625, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. a-dreger@northwestern.edu

Abstract

In 2003, psychology professor and sex researcher J. Michael Bailey published a book entitled The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. The book's portrayal of male-to-female (MTF) transsexualism, based on a theory developed by sexologist Ray Blanchard, outraged some transgender activists. They believed the book to be typical of much of the biomedical literature on transsexuality-oppressive in both tone and claims, insulting to their senses of self, and damaging to their public identities. Some saw the book as especially dangerous because it claimed to be based on rigorous science, was published by an imprint of the National Academy of Sciences, and argued that MTF sex changes are motivated primarily by erotic interests and not by the problem of having the gender identity common to one sex in the body of the other. Dissatisfied with the option of merely criticizing the book, a small number of transwomen (particularly Lynn Conway, Andrea James, and Deirdre McCloskey) worked to try to ruin Bailey. Using published and unpublished sources as well as original interviews, this essay traces the history of the backlash against Bailey and his book. It also provides a thorough exegesis of the book's treatment of transsexuality and includes a comprehensive investigation of the merit of the charges made against Bailey that he had behaved unethically, immorally, and illegally in the production of his book. The essay closes with an epilogue that explores what has happened since 2003 to the central ideas and major players in the controversy.

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PMID:
18431641
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3170124
Free PMC Article
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