I welcome the blog from Michael Bailey this morning, and thank him for contributing it. This is the first time I am aware of where an exchange can take place in an open forum. Bailey's passages help make clear where the disagreements exist, which might suggest that an armistice is someday possible. On the other hand, his passages illustrate why this acrimonious dispute has persisted for over four years, and will not find an easy reconciliation.
Bailey has still not been able to grasp that people may think he is wrong because they.... really, actually think he is wrong. They don't think he is wrong because they are covering up some deeply felt sense of shame, or proceeding from some other complicated motivation. No. One may really, truly think Bailey is wrong in his claim that all transsexuals are either gay men or straight fetishists because the data are not convincing and are almost surely counter factual.
I know too many people whose life simply does not coincide with the two templates that Bailey says comprise all transsexuals. And while Bailey may find the mixed responses to Blanchard's surveys compelling, this is his personal and subjective opinion. Bailey can't seem to deal with empirical skepticism, and therefore goes to great lengths to malign the motives of anyone who questions his conclusions.
Bailey continues to say that his critics do not admit the existence of people who identify with his template for a straight cross-dresser who carries a fetish to the point of body feminizing. That has never been true. So far as I know, all the critics have always accepted this possibility. Ann Lawrence was among the first to clearly state such a narrative, and I honor it, although I feel in many respects her narrative is singular, and not generalizable.
Bailey seems to suggest that all people who identify with this template feel relieved and vindicated by his writing, and he offers some quotations to that effect. But I have met others who also identify with Bailey's fetishistic template and yet feel humiliated and demeaned by his portrayal of them.
Concerning his book, I'm glad that Bailey is now presenting it as a "popularized summary." He has yet to acknowledge that it was not originally publicized as such. He has also yet to acknowledge that his writing could be reasonably interpreted at many points as sensational and bigoted. There have been years of criticism, and Bailey cannot bring himself to acknowledge that any of the criticism has even a shred of truth. Instead, all the critics are nothing but a band transsexual vigilantes out to lynch him as a defender of the truth because they don't like his conclusions.
One might wonder why the acrimony can have lasted these four years, why it is so vehement, and shows little sign of letting up. After all, a book is just a book--how could it possibly matter so much? Beyond the book itself, with its dubious and sensational claims, lies a struggle over power, over whose voice gets to count. This is what is keeping the dispute alive. Bailey, and the other psychologists allied with him, think they know more about being a transsexual than we do ourselves. Psychologists see us through the lens of a simplistic theory, and when we say their picture is distorted, often beyond recognition, they retort that we're lying.
Therefore their theory is untestable, and true by fiat. This is like having a white doctor tell a black person what its like to be black, and when the black person objects, the white doctor overrules.
The dispute and acrimony will not end until transgendered people are permitted to voice their own narratives without being filtered through the lens of psychologists. Transgender narratives must be honored as primary data, first class evidence, and not subject to tampering, manipulation or subversion. Transgendered people cannot concede the meaning and definition of their lives to medical authority.
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