J. Michael Bailey

American psychologist

John Michael Bailey (born 2 July 1957) is an American psychologist, behavioural geneticist, and professor at Northwestern University best known for his work on the etiology of sexual orientation. He maintains the position that sexual orientation is heavily influenced by biology and male homosexuality is most likely inborn.

J. Michael Bailey in 2014




  • Homosexuality might be the most striking unresolved paradox of human evolution.
    • p. 115
  • When most people hear “environment,” they automatically think of the social environment, such as how children are raised or what kind of interpersonal experiences they have. But to a geneticist “environment” means anything not encoded in DNA, and this includes biological factors as well as social factors: diet, germs, and random biological events might also affect development. For example, when one identical twin is born with a major brain defect such as anencephaly (lack of a cerebral cortex, or outer brain) or microcephaly (a very small cortex), the other twin is usually normal. Only environment can cause identical twins to differ, but the environmental problem in this case is biological.
    • p. 110
  • Another environmental hypothesis that has received some enthusiasm on the political right is the idea that gay people seduce and recruit. I have never understood how this is plausible. A boy with no interest in homosexual activity wouldn't find it pleasant even if he agreed to it. How is this supposed to turn him gay?
    • p. 112
  • The bad trend is that scientists and laypeople both think that there is something more impressive about biological markers—a trait that one can measure with a ruler or a blood test or complicated electronic equipment (I'm serious, there is no better definition of “biological marker”)—than there is about psychological or behavioral markers. This is a mistake.
    • p. 122
  • Nobody ever gave Danny Ryan a dress before he asked for one, and he was punished much more than rewarded for his gender nonconformity. If he grows up to be a gay man, as I expect he will, it will be despite the most obvious influences in his social environment, not because of them. In the short term, Danny will receive no more encouragement from others to become gay than he did to wear dresses. Behavior that emerges with no encouragement, and despite opposition, is the sine qua non of innateness. Boys like Danny are poster children for biological influences on gender and sexuality, and this is true whether or not we measure a single biological marker.
    • p. 123
  • ...femininity in boys and homosexuality in men are probably caused by incomplete masculinization of the brain during sexual differentiation.
    • p. 169
  • “Social constructionism” (or “social constructivism”) is a term that might be familiar to anyone who has taken a humanities course at an American or European university since 1990, but it might otherwise sound odd. It is difficult to explain social constructionism in a way that satisfies social constructionists. They think this is because they are profound and people like me simplistic. I think it is because they aren't very clear, and to the extent they are clear, they are incorrect.
    • p. 124
  • When they leave prison, men who had been heterosexual before entering usually return to a strictly heterosexual lifestyle. Their prison encounters did not indicate that their sexual preference had changed. The men were simply doing the best they could, given constraints. It would be important to know what these men were thinking when they were having their penises sucked by other men, for example. Were they thinking of the men sucking their penises, or were they imagining their girlfriends at home? The former possibility would indicate more flexibility of true sexual preference than the latter.
    • p. 132
  • The contention that homosexual orientation (as distinct from homosexual behavior) is a recent and local phenomenon is not supported by the evidence. Men who look awfully similar to the men I’ve been talking about in previous chapters seem to have existed through the ages and in vastly different cultures. Social constructionists’ refusal or inability to see this suggests that they are trying to keep their eyes closed.
    • p. 133
  • The fact is that we don't know enough about hormonal effects on the human brain to have a very specific theory of how Danny's brain could have developed in a feminine direction while his body developed masculine. If Danny's body also showed signs of feminine development, this would support nature theory, but the lack of anatomical femininity does not disprove it. There has been essentially no research on boys like Danny that is directly biological. Short of dissecting the brain of a feminine boy and comparing it with normal boys' and girls' brains, it is unclear what we would even look for. However, the best conceivable direct test of nurture theory has been tried, and it failed. Amanda became Jason again.
    • p. 53–54


  • The two types of transsexuals who begin life as males are called homosexual and autogynephilic ... homosexual transsexuals are extremely feminine gay men, and autogynephilic transsexuals are men erotically obsessed with the image of themselves as women.
    • p. 146
  • Once you've learned about autogynephilic and homosexual transsexuals and seen several of each, distinguishing them is easy.
    • p.192
  • The current popular literature about transsexualism is noteworthy for its ignorance of the distinction between autogynephilic and homosexual transsexuals.
    • p. 216
  • In order for a feminine boy to become transsexual, something extra must happen. What is the something extra?
    • p. 178
  • Autogynephilic transsexuals are not "women in men's bodies" (Anne Lawrence, a physician and sex researcher who is herself a postoperative transsexual, has called them "men trapped in men's bodies").
    • p. 168

Other quotes

  • To me, cases like that really scream out, ‘Hey, it’s not out there. It’s in here.’ There’s no indication that this mother is prone to raise very feminine boys because his twin is not that way.
  • Do I dislike sexual minorities? Enjoy hurting their feelings? Want to return us to our Puritanical past? If not, why have I repeatedly offended so many in these groups? My answers are “no”, “no”, “no”, and “because I try to do good science”.