The Corner

Culture Wars: Report From Derb Bunker

Following the “Derbophobe” link at the end of today’s column, a number of readers have e-mailed in to ask what on earth I have done to tick off this Lynn Conway person so very comprehensively.

It’s a long story but here is the gist of it.

There is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, Michael Bailey. Michael’s research specialty is the psychology of “gender identity.” He studies–in a formal, peer-reviewed academic sense–things like homosexuality, transsexualism, and so on. Earlier this year he published a book about his research, titled The Man Who Would Be Queen. I am slightly acquainted with Michael and his work–we are both members of a certain invitation-only e-list dealing with matters of human variation from biological, psychological and sociological perspectives. I therefore volunteered to review his book for National Review. My review duly appeared in the June 30 issue of NRODT this year. Here it is.

Now, the last part of Michael’s book deals with male transsexuals–men who wish to become women. In it, he subscribes to the theory (which did not originate with him) that there are two quite distinct types of male transsexual. The first type is pretty straightforward, just a particularly effeminate kind of homosexual, who wants to be a woman in order to attract male sex partners–heterosexual ones for preference. The second type, however, is much stranger. This is the “autogynephile”–a masculine, basically heterosexual man, whose erotic attention is fixated on the image of himself as a woman. In the studies Michael (and others) have done, this type appears quite distinct from the other. Autogynephiles, for example, are likely to have been married to normal women and to have fathered children by them. They differ from the other type–the “homosexual transsexual”–in all sorts of other ways, too, that show up clearly in life histories and psychological tests.

Now, this is all psychological theory. It may be wrong–though on the evidence Michael presents, in his book and elsewhere, it seems to this non-specialist that he has a pretty good case. This theory, however, is pure poison to those autogynephiles who, like Lynn Conway, have hadsex-reassignment surgery. They take very strong exception to the implication that they are fundamentally males–and heterosexual males at that! WE ARE WOMEN! They scream. FULLY FEMININE WOMEN! To say that they take strong exception to Michael’s work is, in fact, to understate the situation. They are spitting furious with Bailey, and have launched a huge campaign against him and anyone associated with him.

The scale of their campaign is tremendous. Anyone who ever shook hands with Michael Bailey is being tracked down and “exposed” via materials like those I linked to. This campaign is very well financed and has pulled in some big guns–the Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, is carrying out a “hate crimes” investigation. Our publisher has been lobbied ferociously to withdraw Michael’s book (Michael’s publicist, who is also mine, has been a target of their campaign) and Northwestern has also been threatened with various kinds of action if they do not shut Michael’s mouth.

What’s this got to do with me? Well, I gave Michael’s book a friendly review, see, so I must be part of the Axis of Evil. In fact, these lunatics have erected a huge conspiracy theory about myself and Michael, based on the fact that, wait for it, we have the same publisher!!! It follows, you see, that Michael and I meet secretly in a basement somewhere every Friday to plot further insults and outrages against these autogynephiles. I’m not kidding. This stuff is bizarre.

In fact, other than belonging to the same e-list, Michael and I are not acquainted. I have met him just once: his book came out at the same time as mine, and our publisher sent us both to BookExpo in Los Angeles this summer, along with all their other authors whose books had just appeared. Michael does not, in fact, altogether approve of me. He is–as his book clearly shows–sympathetic to people with “gender identity” problems, and regards me as a primitive homophobe. (Imagine! Me!!)

A great many other facts on Lynn Conway’s website are wrong, too. I have never, for example, written a book about yachting, and I have never heard of half the people she names as being part of the great Bailey-Derbyshire conspiracy to present autogynephiles as essentially male.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Lynn Conway is nuts. She and her pals have money, though, and energy, and a big cheering section in the “gay rights” crowd, so I shall probably end up in jail for some kind of “hate crime” before they are through with me.

OK, it’s all a bit of a storm in a teacup. It does illustrate, though, the savagery of the “gender issues” and “gay rights” campaigners. These people are pure totalitarians, intent on shutting up and destroying anyone who goes against their party line–even someone as generally sympathetic as Bailey. They are absolutely unscrupulous, very well funded, and have powerful friends in Congress and the judiciary–it is they who are driving this new “hate crimes” legislation.

As an opinion journalist, I am fair game, and I can take care of myself. Michael, though, is a scientist, a “retired and uncourtly scholar,” quite unused to this kind of vituperation and misrepresentation. His work ought to be validated, or disproved, via the usual processes of discussion and peer review.

Lynn Conway and her gang couldn’t care less about any of that. Like the rest of the “gay rights” and “gender issues” crowd, they want to shut down all discussion and debate. Fundamentally they are extreme narcissists, who react with blind unreasoning fury when their precious self-esteem is pricked. They don’t want peer review; they don’t want science; they don’t want discussion; they want blood. This is real culture war here, and if we lose it, we shall lose our freedoms.

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