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Publisher doubles down on retracted gender paper

Activists have hounded Michael Bailey throughout his career. Credit: Getty

June 12, 2023 - 7:00am

Springer Nature is doubling down on its decision to retract a controversial paper about trans-identifying teens and their parents. Despite nearly 2,000 researchers and academics signing a letter in support of the article, Springer nonetheless decided to retract the paper without disciplining its editor.

Co-author Michael Bailey has run afoul of trans activists before. He has a pesky habit of being a free-range researcher who follows his curiosity wherever it leads. In interviews, he is disinclined to make predictions, preferring to see the data first. 

Critics — many of whom could better be described as professional activists, rather than academics — balk at Bailey’s research-first approach. Twenty years ago, the scientist faced vicious attacks for daring to write frankly about the sexual motivations that drive some men to transition. His 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen hit the press at a particularly inconvenient moment, when trans activists were seeking to desexualise transgender identity in the public imagination. As punishment, activists flung every insult and accusation — no matter how baseless or horrifying — at Bailey that they thought might squash his book and its insights. 

Recently Bailey made another inconvenient outing, publishing an article on the controversial issue of rapid-onset gender dysphoria earlier this year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Bailey and his co-author, the pseudonymous Susanna Diaz, analysed a survey of 1,655 parents whose children had no childhood history of gender dysphoria, only declaring a transgender identity upon adolescence. 

Girls outnumbered boys three-to-one. Parents reported that 60% of girls and 38% of boys had at least one friend declare a transgender identity around the same time. In 73% of cases, parents reported that the child suffered a stressful event — like romantic rejection or the death of a loved one — shortly before coming out as transgender. 

Over half (57%) of young people had a prior history of mental health issues, with these problems preceding the onset of gender dysphoria by over three years on average. Bailey and Diaz observed that “youth with a history of mental health issues were especially likely to take steps to socially and medically transition”. Parents reported that, after social and/or medical transition, their children’s psychological functioning declined. Parent-child relationships suffered, too. 

Following activist pressure, the academic publishing company Springer Nature retracted Bailey and Diaz’s article on the grounds that the parents had not specifically consented to have survey results published in a peer-reviewed journal. (The parents did, however, consent to the publication of survey results, which is more than can be said for much peer-reviewed research, including some of the articles most frequently cited by trans activists.)

When Bailey challenged this decision, citing 19 other articles that are open to the same charges, Springer Nature refused to reconsider. In the process, the publisher even opened the door to retracting dozens — possibly hundreds — of other articles that rely on survey data. An analysis commissioned by the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine suggests that Springer Nature would need to review tens of thousands of articles for compliance with this new “standard”. The toll such retractions would take on social-scientific research would be immense: 

Survey research is the backbone of social science and plays an invaluable role in studying underprivileged and hard-to-reach populations. The highly specific language in the consent forms, which Springer Nature now insists should have been included, is unlikely to be present in many—or any—of the papers based on respondent-provided data.
- Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine

Trans activists have spent decades trying to shut down inquiry and debate at all costs. But they may get more than they bargained for this time. If taken to its logical conclusions, Springer Nature’s reckless decision to appease the mob by retracting Bailey and Diaz’s article risks ripping the ground out from under activists’ feet. But perhaps no review is forthcoming, and Spring Nature simply needed to find any hook on which to hang an inconvenient researcher, scientific integrity be damned.


Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student in psychiatry and the author of Writing Behavior on Substack.

elizamondegreen

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Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
11 months ago

What I struggle to understand is what pressure these radical trans-activists can realistically bring to a scientific publisher?
Is there money (or loss of income) floating around somewhere hidden?
Is it pressure from a few employees?
I really don’t get it.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

I’m with you on this Andrew. I can’t see how a tiny minority of, admittedly very shouty, people can exert this amount of pressure over an issue that most people (the ones I speak to) don’t take particularly seriously.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

The investigative reporter Jennifer Bilek exposes some of the powerful forces, big money and creepy perversions of the super-rich behind the trans-activist movement. This recent YouTube video is a good example:

Jennifer Bilek Who is Behind the TRANS AGENDA?

She deserves a wider audience.

Stuart Sutherland
Stuart Sutherland
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

This is a very important point! How are are these trans activists so effective? Do they visit the publisher in person or in their home. How do they do it!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

There is a global movement to flatten the concept of ‘gender’ so that men and women become entirely interchangeable. When traditional masculine and feminine identities are finally destroyed they can be replaced by a far more compliant identity – one that is disembodied from religion, history, culture, and sex – a kind of neutered consumer-worker drone if you will.

Cate Terwilliger
Cate Terwilliger
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

An interesting insight, which I’ve heard before but not so neatly put. In America, most are already consumer worker drones. Why not neutered, as well? It’s clear that our many “woke” corporations see dollar signs in marketing to consumers captured by gender ideology.

Cate Terwilliger
Cate Terwilliger
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

An interesting insight, which I’ve heard before but not so neatly put. In America, most are already consumer worker drones. Why not neutered, as well? It’s clear that our many “woke” corporations see dollar signs in marketing to consumers captured by gender ideology.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Cowardice is in the mix there somewhere.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

It’s because publishing these days, including scientific publishing, is a hotbed of wokeness. Look at what recently happened to Prof Nigel Biggar and his attempt to have a nuanced book on Colonialism and the British Empire published. The publisher — Bloomsbury, I think — having commissioned and received the manuscript, suddenly announced it wouldn’t be published due to ‘public concerns’. He managed to get released from the contract and has managed to successfully publish elsewhere.

Activists say jump, and the publications merely reply ‘how high?’

Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

While most people are apathetic on these things, Activists can rally a small but highly motivated group to support “victims” against oppressors, by attracting those who sympathize with the supposed injustices, even if those sympathies were coerced based on blatant lies. The Activists and their mob then attack not only the individuals and companies deemed oppressors, but groups, friends, family, acquaintances, partners, and businesses that work or associate with the supposed oppressors. The pressure relies primarily on boycotts and blackmail, by including threats of coordinated public campaigns of negative publicity.
The defamed real victim may try to weather the storm, and can possibly sue for the personal and professional damages caused by the spreading of the false information, but sue who? Everyone posting or sharing the rumor? Can a specific leader even be located and then proven as the catalyst? Probably not. Certainly not with the help of Social Media platforms. And what about those platforms carrying the garage? We all know they have immunity – and may very well join in the attack by promoting the negative propaganda and suspending and canceling those that defend you. Heck, they can even eliminate your self defense and rebuttal ability by shadow banning or canceling you: all the while letting the mob continue their beat down, unimpeded.
There’s simply no effective and efficient rapid response defense mechanism for this kind of coordinated attack, often of lies. And there are no deep pockets to punish or pay retribution. Therefore, it’s usually a simple risk assessment that concludes something like, “Ok, then
this is NOT the item we are willing to fight to the death about, so we’ll retract the article”.
Then comes the final insidious step. Before capitulating to the mob the targeted individual or company defends themselves by taking precautions to insure their actions are cloaked in some sort of legitimacy. So, basically, they end up doing the extremely dirty and disgusting work of laundering their decision through justifications that end up benefiting the mob that unjustly attacked them in the first place.

Last edited 11 months ago by Charlie Rose
Leslie Sudock
Leslie Sudock
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Why? Because the trans activists are now inside the institution (including in positions at the top of the editorial chain of command), and the institution is no longer committed to editorial integrity and objective standards, but rather to the particular result.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

I’m with you on this Andrew. I can’t see how a tiny minority of, admittedly very shouty, people can exert this amount of pressure over an issue that most people (the ones I speak to) don’t take particularly seriously.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

The investigative reporter Jennifer Bilek exposes some of the powerful forces, big money and creepy perversions of the super-rich behind the trans-activist movement. This recent YouTube video is a good example:

Jennifer Bilek Who is Behind the TRANS AGENDA?

She deserves a wider audience.

Stuart Sutherland
Stuart Sutherland
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

This is a very important point! How are are these trans activists so effective? Do they visit the publisher in person or in their home. How do they do it!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

There is a global movement to flatten the concept of ‘gender’ so that men and women become entirely interchangeable. When traditional masculine and feminine identities are finally destroyed they can be replaced by a far more compliant identity – one that is disembodied from religion, history, culture, and sex – a kind of neutered consumer-worker drone if you will.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Cowardice is in the mix there somewhere.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

It’s because publishing these days, including scientific publishing, is a hotbed of wokeness. Look at what recently happened to Prof Nigel Biggar and his attempt to have a nuanced book on Colonialism and the British Empire published. The publisher — Bloomsbury, I think — having commissioned and received the manuscript, suddenly announced it wouldn’t be published due to ‘public concerns’. He managed to get released from the contract and has managed to successfully publish elsewhere.

Activists say jump, and the publications merely reply ‘how high?’

Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

While most people are apathetic on these things, Activists can rally a small but highly motivated group to support “victims” against oppressors, by attracting those who sympathize with the supposed injustices, even if those sympathies were coerced based on blatant lies. The Activists and their mob then attack not only the individuals and companies deemed oppressors, but groups, friends, family, acquaintances, partners, and businesses that work or associate with the supposed oppressors. The pressure relies primarily on boycotts and blackmail, by including threats of coordinated public campaigns of negative publicity.
The defamed real victim may try to weather the storm, and can possibly sue for the personal and professional damages caused by the spreading of the false information, but sue who? Everyone posting or sharing the rumor? Can a specific leader even be located and then proven as the catalyst? Probably not. Certainly not with the help of Social Media platforms. And what about those platforms carrying the garage? We all know they have immunity – and may very well join in the attack by promoting the negative propaganda and suspending and canceling those that defend you. Heck, they can even eliminate your self defense and rebuttal ability by shadow banning or canceling you: all the while letting the mob continue their beat down, unimpeded.
There’s simply no effective and efficient rapid response defense mechanism for this kind of coordinated attack, often of lies. And there are no deep pockets to punish or pay retribution. Therefore, it’s usually a simple risk assessment that concludes something like, “Ok, then
this is NOT the item we are willing to fight to the death about, so we’ll retract the article”.
Then comes the final insidious step. Before capitulating to the mob the targeted individual or company defends themselves by taking precautions to insure their actions are cloaked in some sort of legitimacy. So, basically, they end up doing the extremely dirty and disgusting work of laundering their decision through justifications that end up benefiting the mob that unjustly attacked them in the first place.

Last edited 11 months ago by Charlie Rose
Leslie Sudock
Leslie Sudock
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

Why? Because the trans activists are now inside the institution (including in positions at the top of the editorial chain of command), and the institution is no longer committed to editorial integrity and objective standards, but rather to the particular result.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
11 months ago

What I struggle to understand is what pressure these radical trans-activists can realistically bring to a scientific publisher?
Is there money (or loss of income) floating around somewhere hidden?
Is it pressure from a few employees?
I really don’t get it.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
11 months ago

Can’t they just go somewhere else?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

.

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve Murray
Arkadian X
Arkadian X
11 months ago

Can’t they just go somewhere else?

John Pade
John Pade
11 months ago

Transes’ star is hitched unalternatively to the Progressive movement. The only human distinction is class. Race and sex are caused by class. Every difference manifested in human condition is caused by class. The remedy is to eliminate class.
Words like alternative, only, other don’t exist because they might result in difference or lead to not class.

Andrew F
Andrew F
11 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

Race and sex are caused by class?
Your are even more deranged than Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
Even Pol Pot sounds saner than you.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

What??!?

Andrew F
Andrew F
11 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

Race and sex are caused by class?
Your are even more deranged than Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
Even Pol Pot sounds saner than you.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

What??!?

John Pade
John Pade
11 months ago

Transes’ star is hitched unalternatively to the Progressive movement. The only human distinction is class. Race and sex are caused by class. Every difference manifested in human condition is caused by class. The remedy is to eliminate class.
Words like alternative, only, other don’t exist because they might result in difference or lead to not class.