J. Michael Bailey

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John Michael Bailey (1957–) is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. He is best known for his research on sexual orientation and for writing the pop science book The Man Who Would Be Queen in 2003, promoting Ray Blanchard's taxonomy of male-to-female transsexualism. He was also the subject of a controversy in 2011 after he allowed a guest speaker to penetrate a naked woman with a mechanical sex toy in front of his class (deemed "Fucksaw-gate" or "The 'Fucksaw' Incident"), for which the university cancelled his human sexuality course.[1][2]

The Man Who Would Be Queen[edit]

Bailey's magnum opus is divided into three sections, the first of which deals with gender dysphoria in children and the second of which discusses effeminacy in cross-dressers and homosexual men. The third section details Bailey's conclusions about male-to-female transsexual individuals and generated a great deal of controversy.

Though he later distanced himself from Bailey's scientific certainty, Ray Blanchard sees his 1980s-era studies of male-to-female transsexuals reiterated in the book. Specifically, Bailey asserts that there are two types of natal males who seek sex reassignment:

  1. Extremely effeminate individuals, who are really very gay men who transition for the purpose of being more sexually appealing to men; and
  2. Older, less effeminate autogynephiles, who transition because they have an overpowering fetish for having a female body.

Bailey also claims trans women attracted to men are often prostitutes or thieves (and that this is sexually motivated), and that they're more attractive than trans women attracted to women.[3][4][5]:184–185 The book claims there are a "large number of Latina transsexuals", adding that "60 percent of the homosexual transsexuals and drag queens we studied were Latina or black." Bailey then includes speculation from a Latina trans woman that "Hispanic people might have more transsexual genes than other ethnic groups do", to which Bailey says he's "not sure" about this theory.[3][5]:183–184

The book generated considerable controversy, receiving a complaint from a transgender student. Some professors complained that Bailey's work was unscientific, defamatory and dangerous to the social progress of the trans community. Several of Bailey's research subjects filed complaints of misconduct,[6] and an investigation took place that did not find anything so egregious that the university felt compelled to remove him from his post.

The ferocity and extent of the criticism caused Bailey and his defenders to cry persecution and that academic freedom was at risk, despite the fact that no censorship was ever attempted and the book was published by a major academic press. In defense of his writing, Bailey cited the fact that he was an ally of the LGBT community in an elaborate friend argument. However, a small number of people, especially Andrea James but also Lynn Conway, Deidre McCloskey, and a few others, unambiguously went way too far and engaged in outright harassment of both Bailey and anyone who they believed (whether or not it was actually true) had some positive association with him at any point in the past. James' response was to create a page on her website with sexually explicit captions on photos of his school-aged children, as if they had anything to do with it.[7] These captions literally employed the same descriptions he used in his book for gender-nonconforming children, such as "cock-starved exhibitionist", in order to demonstrate their utterly offensive and dehumanizing nature and reflect them back to him. In turn, as James points out,[8] colleague and ally Alice Dreger, in publishing a book with the title Galileo's Middle Finger, resorted to the tired old Galileo gambit to defend Bailey, even though he does not suffer any noticeable academic repercussions, and despite troubling open questions, especially about the Danny Ryan case.

In 2018, Natalie Wynn, better known as Contrapoints, discussed and criticized the concept of autogynephilia in a lengthly YouTube video.[9]

Indeed, the majority of ethical researchers[10] and trans individuals consider autogynephilia to be pseudoscience and even a form of transphobic character assassination[11] which relies almost exclusively on the assumption that the vast majority of trans individuals lie about their feelings and experiences. Indeed, Moser found that by Blanchard's criteria, 93% of cis women were also 'autogynephilic fetishists'.[12]

Sexual orientation[edit]

Bailey is best known among scientists for his work on the cause of sexual orientation, with an early focus on twins, from which he concluded that homosexuality is substantially inherited. Bailey further believes social environmental factors as a cause for homosexuality are generally weak in magnitude and distorted by numerous confounding factors. Prompted by Uganda's proposed death penalty for homosexuality, Bailey authored a large academic review with five other scientists about the current evidence on the cause of non-heterosexuality in 2016.[13]

Bisexual men[edit]

In 2005, Bailey co-authored a study measuring arousal responses of bisexual men which found the vast majority had a homosexual arousal pattern, leading Bailey to conclude that male bisexuality is rare and that most are gay men in denial.[14] This study was met with criticism.[15] Later in 2005, Bailey was approached by John Sylla, President of the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) who was critical of Bailey's original study. Sylla encouraged Bailey to test other bisexual males which led Bailey's lab to eventually find bisexual arousal responses in 2013-14.[16] In 2020, Bailey co-authored a large study which found "robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men".[17] Bailey's views on male bisexuality have been criticized namely for perpetuating stigma about bisexuals as liars or to insinuate that they require a laboratory test to prove their sexuality.[18] Bailey has defended his doubts about the existence of true male bisexuality because many gay men initially come out as bisexual and will later admit they are really gay,[19] and argues that he tries "to do good science".[20]

Bisexual women[edit]

Bailey inaccurately[21] claimed that "bisexuality in women was relatively uncontroversial"[22] despite it being proven that bisexual women face prejudice and stigma equaling or greater that leveled at bisexual men.[23] When challenged, Bailey said "We tried to find equivalent controversy but were unable to. What did we miss?" — he and his cohort apparently missed the majority of academic study, government surveys,[24] activism, and charity work[25] related to double stigma,[26] prejudice against bisexuals, fetishization of bisexual women,[27] and that bisexual women face higher rates of domestic violence than gay or straight women[28] — all well documented over the last fifty years.

After claiming that bisexuality in women is "relatively uncontroversial", he then stated: "Sexual arousal patterns are much less related to women's sexual identities than they are to men's. In fact, they are nearly irrelevant to women's. We don't really understand female sexual orientation, if it exists."[29]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Jodi S. Cohen and Lisa Black (March 3, 2011). "NU president 'troubled' by sex toy demonstration on campus". The Chicago Tribune.
  2. Paul Schrodt (March 10, 2011). "What's Wrong with a Little Sex?". Esquire.
  3. 3.0 3.1 (May 28, 2004). "Lots of sex but a lack of science". Times Higher Education.
  4. Élise Hendrick. "Science and Ideology: The Blanchard-Bailey-Lawrence Model of Transsexuality". TransAdvocate.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bailey, J. Michael (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 978-0-309-08418-5. 
  6. Third Complaint Against Bailey
  7. Alice D. Dreger, The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age. Arch Sex Behav. 2008 Jun; 37(3): 366–421, via National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  8. Boing Boing: Sexology's war on transgender children
  9. Autogynephilia, Contrapoints (2018) Youtube.com
  10. The Real Autogynephilai Deniers
  11. Trans-antagonistic nonsense of many varieties.
  12. Autogynephilia in Women
  13. "Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science" Bailey JM, Vasey PL, Diamond LM, Breedlove SM, Vilain E, Epprecht M (2016). Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 17 (2): 45–101.
  14. Gay Straight or Lying
  15. Loraine Hutchins, Sexual Prejudice: The erasure of bisexuals in academia and the media. American Sexuality magazine, Volume 3, Number 4.
  16. The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists The New York Times (2014)
  17. Robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men
  18. https://twitter.com/profjmb/status/1285612047061987328 (see tweet responses)
  19. https://twitter.com/profjmb/status/1285612250993131520?s=20
  20. Michael Bailey, Questioning Sexual Identities. Queer Majorities.
  21. Mental Health Facts for Bisexual Populations
  22. Bailey Tweet
  23. Study Explains Lesbian Bias Against Bisexual Women
  24. Bisexuals Have Lower Life Satisfsction
  25. The Human Rights of Bisexual Persons by ILGA
  26. Bisexual Women Face Double Stigma
  27. Fetishised and Forgotten
  28. Sexual Assault and the LGBT Community
  29. J. Michael Bailey (July 21, 2020). "This does not mean that women are more bisexual, however. Sexual arousal patterns are much less related to women's sexual identities than they are to men's. In fact, they are nearly irrelevant to women's. We don't really understand female sexual orientation, if it exists." Twitter, via the Wayback Machine.
  30. Heidi Beirich and Bob Moser (December 31, 2003). "Northwestern University Psychology Professor J. Michael Bailey Looks into Queer Science". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center.
  31. Steve Sailer (July 20, 1999). "Roster of Human Biodiversity Discussion Group Members". AOL.