Bailey's "at it again"-the omission and distortion of BSTc findings
It seems that J. Michael Bailey, author of the new book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism (1), perhaps the worst book ever written on transsexualism, is at it again.
In writing what he considers a scientific, yet popular, treatment of the subject, Bailey omitted from his book, some of the most important transsexual data to date- two Dutch reports (2, 3), which indicate that male to female transsexuals have a female sized brain structure. Have no fear, though. After this inconceivable omission, Bailey has tried to cover for himself, by a brief treatment of these reports, in an apparently updated section of his website, which addresses some of the criticism his new book has received (4). His treatment of the brain studies in his website is almost as bad as his book.
For instance, in trying to maintain his claim that there are two seperate types (and ONLY two!) of transsexualism- a "type of gay man" (Bailey's own words- pg.178 in his book) (Type 1), or a heterosexual man with misdirected heterosexuality in the form of an SRS driven autoerotic "paraphilia", known as autogynephilia (type 2), he cites Anne Lawrence's report, where she interprets the data of the brain studies, to claim that the BSTc may actually be a marker for autogynephilic transsexuals (5).
How does she do this? Of course, by assuming that the reports of the subjects in the Dutch paper are not to be believed (or perhaps, that they were lying).
For instance, she claims that they were "arguably all autogynephilic" (5), even though two were reported as male-oriented (and thus would be considered, type 1- homosexual transsexuals) and one as oriented toward males and females (3). In order to suggest that they were autogynephilic instead of oriented toward males, as was indicated in the report, (ie., that the reports are not to be believed), a reference is given to a 1987 paper by Ray Blanchard (who coined the term autogynephilia), which showed that homosexual transsexuals secured hormones earlier than do autogynephilic transsexuals. WOW! Imagine, using ONLY ONE variable from a study of patients at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, to explain why the information presented about a group of patients in a totally seperate study from the Netherlands, should not be trustworthy. Not to mention, that this same Blanchard, also claimed that the homosexual transsexuals are early onset transsexuals and the autogynephilic transsexuals are late onset transsexuals. If Lawrence used THIS Blanchard variable instead, she would have difficulty, of course, with the fact that there was no size difference between the transsexuals who had early onset transsexualism (T2, T5, and T6) as opposed to those who were reported to have had late onset transsexualism (subjects T1 and T3) (3). Furthermore, it also would not square with the data that two early onset transsexuals (T2 and T5) were female oriented, whereas one early onset transsexual (T6) was male oriented (3). Nor would it square with the report that one late onset transsexual (T3) was reported as being female oriented and another late onset transsexual reported as being male oriented (T1) (3). Of course, again it may be suggested that all of this too, should be "arguably" contested.
BUT, why shouldn't we call in to question Lawrence's "arguable" changing of the data being reported? Or, perhaps, moreso, why shouldn't we call into question, Bailey's use of Lawrence's data, and her fine reputation (she maintains an excellent resource for m to f transsexualism), for his own "rescue", when he does not carefully point out these important implications of the data in his website, and does not even cite the studies in the first instance, in his book! Surely, if we read the Dutch report carefully (3), it does seem to correlate not with a type of transsexualism, but with gender identity itself. Not only do we have male oriented transsexuals AND female oriented transsexuals co-existing as early onset transsexuals, thus showing heterogeneity within this group, but we also have male oriented transsexuals and female oriented transsexuals co-existing as late onset transsexuals, showing heterogeneity within this group also. Thus, we have heterogeneity WITHIN the two groups and a homogenous state BETWEEN the two groups.
Further omissions by Bailey, who in his trite treatment of the BSTc studies, claims the BSTc studies as not being "close to supporting the interpretations they have inspired" (4) , is that the first female to male transsexual brain studied, actually has a male BSTc. Admittedly, it's only one subject, but this intriguing case, when compared with the control females, flies in the face of Bailey's conceived notions. Again, it's the "easy way out" for him to omit this data, which conflicts with his conclusions. In like manner, is his omission of a 7th male to female (T7) who, although did not transition (he was 84 in no later than 1999 when the paper was submitted), was nonetheless described as "A nontreated individual with cross-gender identity feelings (T7) which were already present since his earliest childhood" (3). Perhaps, the only consolation that this non-transitioner wasn't reported by Bailey, was that his late presentation, would have probably garnered him autogynephilic status, due to his age. Incidentally, this "non-transitioner" would have already been 37, when Christine Jorgenson received the pioneering operation.
Bailey's claim that, "The Dutch group was unfamiliar with (or ignored) the theory of autogynephilia" (4), doesn't seem as accurate, as that Bailey, was unfamiliar with (or ignored) the BSTc studies. Certainly, he ignored them in his book. His statment, "The study is thus irrelevant to the question of whether there are one, two, or more subtypes of transsexuals" (4), seems to be his belief, and is probably supported by little scientific evidence itself, relying upon little more than Lawrence's disbelief of the data (5), as well as Bailey's own selective omission of other data (4). That the BSTc extends its sexual dimorphism into adulthood, of course, still does correlate with gender identity, although since it seems to occur later, may only be a developmental co-occurring phenomenon, with, perhaps, a related cause. This brain result, however, is not likely, as the Dutch authors point out, to be related to post-natal hormone levels. Certainly, the non-transitioning transsexual, whom Bailey leaves out, would seem to discount Bailey's assumption that taking hormones influenced the BSTc. Bailey, claims of course, that the study does not rule out the possibility of post-natal hormonal influences on the BSTc (or even the influence of other factors on the BSTc). But, then again, anything may be a possibility. As Stoller once wrote in his book, Sex and Gender (6), "Perhaps transsexualism is caused by the "baleful influence of a two-headed turtle, upon whose back, the earth is carried. Try to disprove that one.
"If Bailey believes there are only two types of transsexuality, and that the brain structure which is uniquely involved in autogynephilic transsexualism, may also be found in other paraphilias, that is an unfortunate. Where would that leave the many homosexually related paraphilias peculiar to "homosexual transsexuals"? From his book (1), we would be lead to believe he would "reason" to "blame" it on INAH-3. I guess one "paraphilic marker" deserves company, which of course, leaves the question, what if both brain structures, the BSTc and INAH-3, were left "un-masculinized"?"
Well, it seems that we would certainly be in for a sequel. Could a sequel get any better than the original? Could it get any worse?
Yes, indeed, it does seem, that Bailey is at it again.
1) Bailey, J.M. (2003) The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press.
2) Zhou, J.-N., et. al. (1995) A Sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. Nature, 338: 68-70.
3) Kruijver, F.P.M., et. al. (2000) Male to Female Transsexuals have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus. J. Clin. Enddocrinol. Metab., Vol. 85, No. 6: 2034-2041.
***Click the button and read the Kruiver et al full paper!
6) Stoller, R.J. (1975) Sex and Gender Vol. 2: The Transsexual Experiment. Jason Aaronson, N.Y.