Saturday, September 30, 2006

DSD Consortium: Homophobia and transphobia exposed

by Curtis E. Hinkle

Very oddly, the DSD Consortium handbook website lists no DSD Consortium address, contact information or member information, but simply posts links to the brochures published by ISNA, as you'll see at the following links:

In particular, the Consortium website does not mention the actual "research" group behind this front, namely the "The Network on Psychosexual Differentiation", funded by the NICHD and based at Penn State and Northwestern University:

Nor does it mention the pathologizing language in the "mission statement" of that group:

The DSD Consortium website also fails to mention that the principle author/editor of consortium information is Ms. Alice Dreger, a failed academic who recently resigned her position from Michigan State University under a cloud of acrimony (she has since written highly negative things about academic life). Dreger has recently been hired by Northwestern University into an administrative position as a spokesperson for NU's sex research, with the title of "Project Coordinator for publications of the Consortium on the Management of Disorders of Sex Development".

Among other things, Dreger is a defender of the notorious J. Michael Bailey, a disgraced faculty member who is a member of NU's sex research group. Mr. Bailey is well-known for advocating homosexual eugenics, and was a key participant in the early meetings that established the pathologizing terminology and mission of the DSD consortium, as you'll see in the attendee lists:

Mr. Bailey's work has become notorious in the GBLT community for his defamations of GLBT people, and he has been denounced by almost all key advocacy groups, as in these examples:

Furthermore, gay media have recently refused to take ads for research subjects from projects that involve Bailey in their work:

"Since we cannot in good conscience steer our readers to a study that Bailey is part of, we’re canceling the ad. And in the future, before accepting any ads for research studies, our ad staff will ask who is involved. If Bailey is, we won’t accept the ads." - Editors of the Chicago Free Press

Could it be that Ms. Dreger wishes to minimize the exposure of the DSD Consortium's close ties with the pathologizing thinking of such infamous Northwestern University sex researchers?
UPDATE Sept. 24, 2006: Ms. Dreger is planning to resign from the DSD Consortium. She has apparently cracked under the pressure of the exposure of the "DSD pathologizations" that she and Cheryl Chase and the NICHD crowd recently launched against intersex people. She now appears to be going into denial that she had anything to do with this mess, even though she was one of the principle authors of it all!
Chicago Free Press
August 9, 2006
Editorial: Bad Science
Recently, CFP ran an ad for a research study seeking gay men with gay brothers. The study is based at Northwestern University and other institutions.

A few CFP readers looked into the study and found that one of the principal researchers is Northwestern psychology professor J. Michael Bailey.

Bailey is a controversial figure, to say the least. His 2003 book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” has been heavily criticized by transgender activists, who say it falsely characterizes transgenders as “especially motivated” to shoplift and asserts that “the single most common occupation” of transgenders is prostitution. The book was not footnoted, as serious research commonly is, and some Chicago transgenders said Bailey befriended them in bars and never told them he was using them as subjects for his book, which is clearly wrong.

Northwestern officials investigated the complaints, and while they would not comment on their findings, Bailey subsequently resigned as chairman of the school’s psychology department, although he remains on staff there. Bailey never responded to CFP questions about his book or his research. He has since created a “Book Controversy Question & Answer” section on his website, but it doesn’t address any of the allegations listed above.

The book is not the only controversial aspect to Bailey’s research. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation blasted Bailey and an article about his research in the New York Times in 2005. The subject of that article, a research paper co-written by Bailey and a graduate student, asserted, “It remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists.” Bailey based that claim on experiments involving a widely discredited scientific instrument developed in Stalinist Czechoslovakia in the 1950s to measure soldiers’ responses to sexual stimuli.
Media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting said in a statement about the Times article, “In suggesting that men who claim a bisexual sexual orientation are liars, the Times relies heavily on a single study whose senior researcher has a career marked by ethics controversies and eugenics proposals.”

Bailey has also generalized that gay men tend to be feminine boys, and part of his current study is aimed at pursuing that theory. He has generalized that most gay men are ashamed of being perceived as feminine, an assertion that demonstrates how Bailey lets his own feelings and assumptions about what’s masculine or feminine, even gay or straight, guide his findings.

The current study is also aimed at finding a genetic basis for homosexuality. If that were discovered, and parents were consequently able to ensure that their offspring were not gay (something that many scientists believe isn’t possible), Bailey has said that such a choice “would be morally unproblematic.”

“It is quite hard to see how being heterosexual causes any harm to the child,” Bailey said at a 2004 forum at Northwestern.

Thanks to the heads-up from our readers, we looked into Bailey’s involvement in this study and found it to be substantial. Since we cannot in good conscience steer our readers to a study that Bailey is part of, we’re canceling the ad. And in the future, before accepting any ads for research studies, our ad staff will ask who is involved. If Bailey is, we won’t accept the ads.

There are other researchers involved in this study. They may have good motives, but we question their association with Bailey. We appreciate good science. We don’t appreciate being used to further the dubious agenda of someone who believes he should not be held accountable to our community.