Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"The Man Who Would Be Queen" in black and white terms

If you're wondering why trans folks were/are upset with J. Michael Bailey's "The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism" [emphasis mine], here's an analogy. Imagine a researcher who:

- drew conclusions about the entire population of black women based on a half-dozen women he met in a local bar (because he didn't know how to locate other black women, despite the presence of several organization for black women) and based on that sampling

- argued that white women "aspire (with some success) to be presentable, while [black women] aspire (with equivalent success) to be objects of desire" (Pg. 180)

- argued black women "tend to have a short time horizon with certain pleasure in the present being worth great risks for the future" (Pg. 184)

- argued that black women "might be especially well suited to prostitution" (Pg. 185)

- argued the black women are "especially motivated" to shoplifting (Pg. 185)

- argued those who were black women "are much better looking than most" of those who aren't, and that he can tell the difference between light-skinned black women and dark-skinned white women based on whether he was attracted to them (Pgs 180-182)

- argued if someone said they didn't fit his characterization of them, they were lying

I doubt we'd be debating whether those findings were "politically incorrect" and recognize the shoddy "research" for what it was.

Or you can just listen to Bailey speak for himself -- about his test to tell the autogynephiliac transsexuals (those who Bailey argues are men aroused by the image of themselves as women) from the homosexual transsexuals (those who Baileys says are gay men who are just so effeminate they become women). I should note that Bailey argues these are the only two types of transsexuals who exist and that the many transsexuals who say neither of these descriptions fit their life experiences must be lying.

I have devised a set of rules that should work even for the novice (though admittedly, I have not tested them). Start at zero. Ask each question, and if the answer is "Yes," add the number (+1 or -1) next to the question. If the sum gets to +3, stop; the transsexual you're talking to is autogynephiliac. If the sum gets to -3, she is homosexual.

+1 Have you ever been married to a woman?
+1 As a child, did people think you were about as masculine as other boys?
+1 Are you nearly attracted to women as to men? Or more attracted to women? Or equally uninterested in both? (Add 1 if "Yes to any of these.)
+1 Were you over the age of 40 when you began to live full time as a woman?
+1 Have you worn women's clothing in private, and, during at least three of those times, become so sexually aroused that you masturbated?
+1 Have you ever been in the military or worked as a policeman or truck driver, or been a computer programmers, businessman, lawyer, scientist, engineer or physcian?
-1 Is you ideal partner a straight man?
-1 As a child, did people think you were an unusually feminine boy?
-1 Does this describe you: "I find the idea of having sex with men very sexually exciting, but the idea of having sex with women is not at all appealing?"
-1 Were you under the age of 25 when you began to live full time as a women?
-1 Do you like to look at pictures of really muscular men with their shirts off?
-1 Have you worked as a hairstylist, beautician, female impersonator, lingerie model, or prostitute?

Finally, if the person has been on hormones for at least six months, ask yourself this question:

If you didn't already know that this person was a transsexual, would you still have suspected that she was not a natural-born women?

+1 if you answer is "Yes" (if you would have suspected)
-1 if your answer is "No"

Keep in mind that people don't always tell the truth. This interview could be invalid if the transsexual is really autogynephiliac, but is either (a) worried that you will think badly of her or deny her a sex change if you know the truth, or (b) obsessed with being a "real" woman. [Pgs 192-194]

Scientific indeed...

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