NU panel to investigate prof's research tactics
Transsexuals: Bailey didn't get consent for book
November 18, 2003
University officials plan to launch a full investigation into allegations that a Northwestern psychology professor featured stories from transsexual women in his latest book without receiving their consent.
Since July at least five complaints have been filed questioning Prof. J. Michael Bailey's research methods for his book, "The Man Who Would Be Queen," published in May.
An ad hoc committee has been reviewing the complaints since July 3 to determine if there was a need for a formal investigation, after Anjelica Kieltyka submitted the first complaint. Kieltyka, a transsexual advocate and former psychology student in the School of Continuing Studies, is featured under the pseudonym "Cher" in Bailey's book.
In a letter to Kieltyka obtained Monday by The Daily, C. Bradley Moore, vice president of research at NU, wrote that the investigating committee and Daniel Linzer, dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, "recommend proceeding with a full investigation of the allegation that Professor Bailey did not obtain the informed consent of research subjects."
Moore was unavailable for comment, and Linzer declined to comment for this story.
Kieltyka, a Chicago artist, said she hopes Bailey's book is recalled and that he publicly apologizes to her and the other subjects used in his book.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Kieltyka said Monday. "I hope that Northwestern seeks outside agencies to come in and help with the investigation, because this has national (importance). The issues involved go way beyond just Northwestern, Bailey and this book."
Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations, said the university will follow "standard practices and procedures," which do not involve outside agencies, in the investigation, which has no set timeline.
In Bailey's book, pseudonyms are used for three transsexuals he met when writing letters to recommend their sex change operations.
In addition to Kieltyka, three anonymous women submitted complaints alleging they were unaware of Bailey's intent to use their meetings as research. Two transsexual professors, one from the University of Michigan and one from the University of Illinois at Chicago, also filed a joint complaint supporting the other women.
Bailey questioned the basis of the women's allegations in an e-mail to The Daily on Monday.
"The entire issue in dispute is whether what I did was a 'study' and whether the transsexual women I talked to were 'subjects,'" Bailey wrote.
If NU professors or students conduct a study involving people, they must submit a form to the Institutional Review Board, said communication studies Prof. Michael Roloff, a member of NU's Institutional Review Board, which reviews proposed studies.
The form outlines detailed information about the study's research subjects. In most cases, researchers also submit written consent forms filled out by the subjects.
Roloff said subjects need to be notified about the purpose of the research, why they were selected and what exactly will happen during research so that their rights are protected.
"People have a right to know what's going to happen to them," he said.
Bailey's book follows sex researcher Ray Blanchard's theory that transsexuals are either homosexuals or autogynephilics, men who are aroused by the idea of themselves as women. One of the complaints calls the classifications "insidiously malicious, demeaning and libelous."
Deirdre McCloskey, the UIC professor who filed a complaint, said she was "gratified" that NU will embark on a formal investigation.
"They could have whitewashed it," McCloskey said. "They could have ignored it, but they did not."
McCloskey said she thinks Bailey's research methods are "a grave violation of the responsibility of a psychologist and a scientist."
"I hope that at the minimum, the truth comes out about Professor Bailey's behavior," she said. "He used the lives of a half-dozen Hispanic transsexuals in Chicago to write a sensational book, and I think that's a shameful thing for a psychology professor to do."
The Daily's Elaine Helm contributed to this report.
Informed consent basics:
* If professors or students conduct a study involving human subjects, they must submit a form to the Institutional Review Board, which reviews proposed studies.
Source: Prof. Michael Roloff , IRB member