As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised a Girl

Description

289 pages
$18.95
ISBN 0-00-638614-8
DDC 305.9'066

Year

2000

Contributor

Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.

Review

In the 1950s, an obscure psychologist named Dr. John Money working at
the Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital published a paper
claiming humans are born completely unaware of their genders and that,
given the right set of circumstances, scientists could reassign any
human’s gender from one sex to the other. The research paper launched
Money into the world spotlight and, in 1967, he was handed the ideal
opportunity to prove his theory. He was contacted by the Reimers,
parents of twin infant boys. The elder twin, named Bruce, had lost most
of his penis during a bungled circumcision operation. Because Bruce had
no hope of living life as a normal boy, the Reimers asked Dr. Money to
turn him into a girl. Over the next 13 years, Bruce was subjected to a
grueling cycle of surgery, hormone injections, and brutal brainwashing.
Instead of accepting his assigned gender, however, by adolescence Bruce
was instinctively reverting to his male identity. Money’s experiment
almost ended tragically when Bruce attempted suicide in his early teens.
Despite the fact that Bruce (now David) is again living as a man, Dr.
Money has always claimed that his “Twins Case” was a complete
success.

This book reveals the ugly side of medical research, a world in which
patient care sometimes takes a back seat to academic ego and the lust
for research funding. Since the article’s appearance, Dr. Money’s
credibility as a world expert on gender identity has crashed harder than
Bre-X stock and scientists from many disciplines have become universally
cautious about stating what they actually know about human behavior.
Although the subject matter is often technical and riddled with medical
jargon, Colapinto has done a masterful job of keeping his prose lucid to
the layperson and as engrossing as a well-written detective story.
Photographs of Bruce and his family are included in the text. The only
drawback to this book is its lack of an index, which hampers any reader
who wishes to back-check a specific point or date. Fortunately, this is
a book worth reading twice.

Citation

Colapinto, John., “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised a Girl,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8061.