Man Who Would Be Queen to Remain on Lambda Literary Awards Finalists List


After two weeks of discussion, the Finalists Committee for the Lambda Literary Awards voted to retain The Man Who Would Be Queen as a finalist for the 2003 Transgender Award.

"This was a very difficult decision, and I appreciate the seriousness and integrity with which the committee considered the issues raised by the opponents and supporters of The Man Who Would Be Queen," said Jim Marks, Executive Director of the Lambda Literary Foundation, which organizes the annual Lambda Literary Awards (Lammys). "They have been very sensitive about the depth of feeling on this matter."

When the 2003 Lambda Literary Award finalists were announced, the selection of The Man Who Would Be Queen touched off a firestorm of protest that the book was transphobic, poor science and that the author, J. Michael Bailey, was the subject of ethics charges at Northwestern University, where he chairs the Department of Psychology. The book also drew equally strong expressions of support from other transgender activists and from colleagues in the field of study.

Given the range of opinions heard by the Finalists Committee, it agreed to focus on whether the content of the book was at odds with the Lambda Literary Foundation’s mission of supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people through cultural literacy. The viewpoint that received the majority vote was that "Bailey has not set out to intentionally do harm to gay men and transsexuals. He doesn't get it on some fundamental levels but he genuinely thinks he does."

With the Finalists Committee decision made, now a panel of judges will consider which of the five books in this category will be selected for the 2003 Lambda Literary Award. The five finalists in the transgender category are: She's Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan (Broadway Books); The Drag King Anthology, Donna Troka, Kathleen Lebesco, Jean Noble, eds. (Harrington Park Press); The Man Who Would Be Queen, by J. Michael Bailey (Joseph Henry Press); Trans-gendered, by Justin Tanis (The Pilgrim Press); and Transgender Journeys, by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Vanessa Sheridan (The Pilgrim Press). The same judging process will be followed for the books in the other 19 categories.

The results of the judges’ decisions will be announced at a gala banquet to be held June 3, 2004 at the Chicago Mart Plaza Hotel. Tickets are $125 for the dinner, $175 for the dinner and gala reception, with discounts for tickets purchased before March 31, 2004. For more information or to order online, go to www.lambdalit.org or call 202-682-0952.

 

Additional information:

How was the book selected in the first place? The finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards were nominated by their publishers and other authorized agents in the fall of 2003; the nomination period closed December 15, 2003. The finalists in each category were chosen by an ad hoc committee of LGBT book professionals. Committee members voted independently of each other and their votes were not shared with other committee members. Choices were ranked on a scale of 5 to 1 (five being the highest score) and the five books with the highest totals were selected as finalists.

Did every member of the finalist committee vote for the books selected as finalists? No. Because of the ranking system, the fact that categories could have many entrants and that there is no runoff, it is quite possible for a book to become a Lammy finalist without all the Finalists Committee members voting for it.

What about the questions raised on the book’s scientific merit? In an Open Letter published in the February 2004 Lambda Book Report, Lambda Literary Foundation executive director Jim Marks discussed the ethical and censorship issues raised by the call to remove the book from the list. As the committee discussed the points being raised, and we continued receiving comments from the public, it became clear that opinion on the scientific merit of the book was divided. For instance, we received comments from two members of the editorial board of the Journal of Sex Research, one speaking on behalf of the book, the other questioning it. Given such a division of expert opinion, it was beyond the competence of a literary review panel to make a judgment on scientific merit.

 

Finalists Committee:

Larry Bailey, The Open Book, Sacramento, CA
Victoria A. Brownworth, author and critic, Philadelphia, PA
Michelle DiMeo and Pam Harcourt, Women and Children First, Chicago, IL
Richard Labonte, Books to Watch Out For
Kris Kleindienst, Owner, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO
Sara Look, Charis Books, Atlanta, GA
Retha Powers, Bookspan
Philip Rafshoon, owner, OutWrite Books, Atlanta, GA
David Rosen, Insight Out Books
Richard Schneider, Editor, The Gay & Lesbian Review
Martha Stone, Literary Editor, The Gay & Lesbian Review
Jane Troxell, Lambda Rising Bookstore, Washington, DC
Kurt Weber, A Different Light Books, Los Angeles, CA

 


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