A group of scientists and journalists tries to turn back the clock on sex, gender and race using eugenics and controversial genetic theories.
On a book tour last spring and summer, Northwestern University psychology professor J. Michael Bailey gave his audiences a sampling of recent scientific thinking about sexual and gender identity.
After playing audio recordings of four men's voices, Bailey asked: Which is gay? The crowds inevitably picked out the voice with exact articulation and lispy "S" sounds. Precisely! Bailey cheered.
His point: Determining somebody's sexual orientation is just that easy, just that obvious.
Needless to say, Bailey's brand of "queer science" has not met with cheers from GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) activists — nor from many fellow scholars, who see his studies as attempts to lend scientific credence to age-old stereotypes.
But Bailey does have company. Many of those who praised his recent book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, belong to a private cyber-discussion group of a neo-eugenics outfit, the Human Biodiversity Institute (HBI).
This exclusive group of academics, race scientists and right-wing journalists — along with a reported handful of liberals — exchanges thoughts about "differences in race, sex and sexual orientation" for a chilling purpose: promoting and studying "artificial [genetic] selection."
The Man Who Would Be Queen is only the latest in a series of controversial studies and articles by HBI members, many of whom are bent on overturning the most widely held psychological and scientific views of gender, sexual identity and race.
But Bailey's book has brought negative publicity to this "anti-PC" movement, both because of Bailey's controversial conclusions and because most of the transgendered women profiled in his book say they never knew they were going to be written about.
In November, Northwestern launched a full-scale investigation of Bailey, who chairs the prestigious university's psychology department, to probe his handling of transgendered women he was supposed to be counseling — but was allegedly using as unwitting research subjects.
Anjelica Kieltyka, a Chicago artist whose personal history is a prominent part of The Man Who Would Be Queen, filed the first complaint with the university last spring. Like other subjects in the book, she says she was never informed that Bailey was going to write about her.
In fact, she sent several others of the book's subjects to Bailey — friends who needed his help in obtaining mandatory approval for sex-reassignment surgery.
Kieltyka likens Bailey's "science" to the infamous syphilis experiments performed on unwitting black men at the Tuskegee Institute. "At the beginning of the last century, blacks were expendable human beings to be experimented on without their knowledge," she says.
"For Bailey and his allies, we transsexuals are just their guinea pigs."
Equally disturbing, to Kieltyka and others, are the conclusions Bailey reached. Based on his allegedly unauthorized interviews and on discussions with a few other people he met in bars, Bailey determined that transsexuals (the term for transgendered people who surgically change their gender) are "especially motivated" to shoplift, "especially well-suited to prostitution," and "not very successful at finding men willing to commit to them."
The transgender community is especially galled by Bailey's diagnosis of their "condition." The American Psychiatric Association and the vast majority of scholars agree on "gender identity disorder," a medical term for people convinced they were born the wrong gender.
Bailey signs on with his reported fellow HBI member, sex researcher Ray Blanchard, who contends that transgendered people are actually either homosexual or autogynephilic, a term for men aroused by the idea of themselves as women. Bailey says autogynephilics suffer from paraphilia, a set of "unusual sexual preferences" that includes necrophilia, pedophilia and bestiality.
The upshot, says University of Michigan professor emeritus Lynn Conway, is clear: "Bailey has stereotyped us and portrayed us as alien creatures, just as racist scientists did to blacks in earlier eras."
Among some of Bailey's reported HBI cohorts, that racist science of old is still just as alive and well as their current sex research. The Institute's main activity appears to be an "invitation-only" online discussion list for "a small, elite and eclectic mix of experts."
According to a list posted on HBI's Web site until last summer, this "elite" includes:
Jean-Phillippe Rushton, a prominent researcher on black genetic inferiority who is president of a pro-eugenics hate group, the Pioneer Fund;
Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, which purported to show black and Latino intellectual inferiority;
Kevin MacDonald, a professor at California State University at Long Beach who has written several books about supposed Jewish strategies to subvert "Euro-American" culture; and
Gregory Cochrane, a physicist who has suggested the existence of a genetic "gay germ."
These ideas about race and sex have not been limited to the world of academia. The HBI also includes several right-wing journalists who help popularize their theories — and promote their books.
The most prominent cheerleader for Bailey and the other HBI researchers is the man who started the HBI: Steve Sailer, a United Press International reporter and frequent contributor to the anti-immigration Web site, VDARE.com.
Like Bailey, Sailer refused to respond to questions, telling the Intelligence Report "tough noogies." Also like Bailey, he has pushed the idea that there's a genetic basis for homosexuality — making it a "disease" that could eventually be eradicated.
"It's radically unfashionable to call homosexuality a disease," Sailer noted this August on VDARE.com (see Keeping America White). But that doesn't stop Sailer, who fashions himself a bold thinker willing to confront taboo subjects.
The personal Web site maintained by the man behind the Human Biodiversity Institute, www.isteve.com, provides a different window into Sailer's way of thinking.
The site is dominated by crude racial and gender stereotypes as Sailer mocks professional golfer Annika Sorenstam for her muscles, claims that Asian men have a hard time finding dates because they look "less masculine" than other men.
Salier also invokes the spirit of his friend Bailey when he claims to have found the real reason Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election. He chalks it all up to a lisp that makes the former vice president "sound prim, even homosexual."