J. Michael Bailey

This content was last updated Nov. 15, 2023, 8:49 p.m. UTC

J. Michael Bailey (sometimes credited as simply “Michael Bailey”) is an American psychologist and professor in the department of psychology at Northwestern University, a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Bailey is best known for his controversial stances on LGBTQ+ people and pedophilia, his 2003 pop science book The Man Who Would Be Queen which popularized Ray Blanchard’s theory of autogynephilia, and his contributions to the International Academy of Sex Research’s (IASR) official publication Archives of Sexual Behavior, for which Kenneth Zucker is the Editor-in-Chief.

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria appears to be the most common kind of gender dysphoria out there right now. There's an epidemic of referrals among adolescent girls, to the extent that these individuals are treated medically. It is entirely unwarranted, and likely to result in permanent, unnecessary damage.

Bailey, 28 May 2023

Education and Work

Bailey earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1979. In 1989 he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He studied under eugenicist Lee Willerman, his dissertation advisor and mentor.

In 1989, Bailey became a professor at Northwestern University, where he remains employed today. In 2011, his teaching methodology came under fire after he hosted an after-hours demonstration of a woman orgasming via a homemade sex toy for his human sexuality course. The course was later canceled by Northwestern University.

Bailey has published multiple highly controversial papers, such as a study suggesting that bisexual men do not exist, later refuted by a second study that was funded by then-president of the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) John Sylla; the potential divergence in sexual habits between heterosexual and homosexual people; and whether or not it would be morally correct to use eugenics practices to identify and abort “homosexual fetuses.”

Bailey has also advocated for tiered doling out of justice for pedophiles based on the age of their sexual assault victims, and for less harsh punishments for pedophiles who sexually assault children.

The Man Who Would Be Queen

In 2003 Bailey published the pop science book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, which was quickly met with backlash from the LGBTQ+ community. Critiques of Bailey’s book included concern with his stereotyped portrayals of transgender women; exploitation of transgender people without informed consent; and promotion of the deeply controversial, frequently rebutted theory of “autogynephilia,” which suggests that transgender women can be typified exclusively as either homosexual men or heterosexual men erotically attracted to the notion of themselves becoming women. Bailey and Blanchard were both members of the neo-eugenics group Human Biodiversity Institute.

Most of the transgender women featured in Bailey’s book expressed that their consent was not acquired before publication. Bailey described these women, who were sent to him for psychiatric counseling, as “especially motivated” to shoplift, “especially well-suited to prostitution,” and “not very successful at finding men willing to commit to them” in his book. They later filed complaints against him with Northwestern University, as did some of his peers, who also reported him for practicing clinical psychology without a license. The investigations of Bailey did not lead to any disciplinary action by Northwestern.

Bailey’s book was briefly nominated for a Lambda Literary award, but upon further consideration its nomination was withdrawn.

“Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” Paper

In March of 2023, Bailey published a paper alongside “Suzanna Diaz” about fringe theory Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), which was invented by anti-transgender activists in 2016. The study consisted of a survey of parents who believed their transgender children suffered from ROGD. ROGD suggests that the majority of transgender youth, particularly those who were female-assigned at birth, have come to identify themselves as transgender due to exposure to transgender peers in daily life or on social media platforms. No evidence, outside of surveys of parents who believe their children suffer from this unrecognized condition, has ever been presented by its proponents.

As a result of the paper’s publication, an open letter was written to the IASR and Archives of Sexual Behavior with one hundred signatories and the support of multiple LGBTQ+ organizations expressing dissatisfaction with Kenneth Zucker’s work as Editor-in-Chief. Bailey’s paper was criticized for failing to receive international review board (IRB) approval before publication, and for containing leading language based on outdated science. The signatories stated that they would not submit work to the journal, act as peer reviewers, or serve in any editorial capacity until Zucker was "replaced with an editor who has a demonstrated record of integrity on LGBTQ+ matters, and, especially, trans matters."

The paper was retracted in May of 2023, allegedly because Diaz does not belong to an academic or medical institution, and was thus required to receive IRB approval before publishing. Bailey stated that the paper was a success, having been downloaded 38,000 times, and alleges that it was retracted due to LGBTQ+ activists taking over academia.

Bailey is listed as the treasurer for a group called the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research, which promotes fringe studies relating to the transgender community. Other members of the group include Lisa Littman, Lisa Marchiano, and Stella O’Malley.

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