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The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl



Colapinto, John. As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl. New York: Harper Collins, 2000.


I. Ron and  Janet Reimer

            A. Both children of Mennonite parents (pacifists, non worldly life)

                        1. Both raised in strong Mennonite communities

                        2. Grew up in the 50's- Cultural changes were seen as threats by their parents.

            B. The Couple Meets...

                        1. Janet was asked to leave her home at 15 when she wouldn't;t follow her parents religious ideals

                        2. Ron was experiencing troubles at home also since he was into cars, girls, beer, and rock n' roll

                        3. Janet was 15 and Ron 17 when they first met.

            C. The Pregnancy

                        1. Janet had just turned 18 and Ron was very near his 20th birthday when they had sex and Janet became pregnant.

            D. Marriage

                        1. the young couple married immediately and refused to be married in a Mennonite Church- Their parents were very disappointed.

                        2. Soon after their wedding, the couple learned they were having twins.


II. August 25th 1965

            A. Bruce and Brian

                        1. Janet gave birth to two healthy, male twins. Bruce was older by 12 minutes.

III. The Twins At 7 Months

            A. Life was going well for the couple, with Ron having found a successful job and receiving a substantial raise.

            B. Janet notices that her boys have extreme pain urinating.          

                        1) Boys suffered from Phimosis-  their foreskins would seal up and make it difficult for the boys to pass water.

                        2) Pediatrician examined the boys, and suggested circumcision to quickly remedy their condition.




IV. April 27th 1966

            A. Twins were put to sleep with gas (they could not be operated on while conscious)

            B. Sources differ on what happened next:

                        1) Nurses and hospital say that an artery clamp (unusual choice) was used to secure he foreskin that was going to be cut away.

                        2) Dr. Huot says he wanted to use a Gomco clamp. This clamp is specifically designed to prevent excessive bleeding. The round device closes over the stretched foreskin and by squeezing the foreskin it cuts the skin away blood-free.

            What Really happened:

                        1) Bocie cautery machine was used. This delivers an electric current to a sharp (needle like instrument which burns the edges of the incision as it is made, preventing bleeding.

                        2) Dangerous because electric current comes extremely close to the penis.

                        3) this device was turned on at minimum heat, and the Dr. Huot lowered it to Bruce's foreskin. The instrument failed to cut any skin.

                        4) The current in the machine was increased and once again lowered to the foreskin.

                        5) "A wisp of smoke curled up from the baby's groin. An aroma as of cooking meat filled the air."  - recalled by Dr. Cham, an observing surgeon.

                        6) The decision not to circumcise his twin brother Brian was made.

                        7) Janet and Ron were called and told their was an "accident" while their son was being circumcised.

                        8) Bruce's penis looked like a burned string. Over the next few days, it broke away into pieces.

            C. Janet and Ron make realizations.

                        1) doctors told the couple their son

"will never be able to have a normal sexual life , he will never be able to consummate marriage or have normal heterosexual relations.... he will have to recognize that he is incomplete, physically defective, and that he must live apart."

V. The Twins Reach their First Birthday

            A. Janet and Ron see Dr. Money on TV promoting his success on sex changes.

            B. The couple writes to Dr. Money


Dr. John Money

A. His Life

            1) Born in 1921 in New Zealand

                        a. childhood and youth plagued by anxieties, tragedies, and failure.

                        b. was raised in a strict religious household.

            2) came to America at 25

            3) received Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard

            4) joined Johns Hopkins and rose as a researcher and clinician specializing in sexuality. Came to light during the sexual revolution.     

                        a. champion of open marriage and nudism.

                        b. Described his own personal life as casual and eclectic

                                    " a  give and take of sexual visitations and friendly companionships with compatible partners, some men, some women."

            5) coined the term gender identity- a person's inner sense of himself or herself as male or female

            6) known as the world's undisputed authority on the psychological ramifications of ambiguous genitalia and was pioneering the Johns Hopkins clinic for transsexual surgeries.

            7) believed in sexual emancipation

                        a. appeared in court in 1973 to defend porn film Deep Throat and praised it as a "cleansing" movie that could help keep marriages together.

            8) became obsessed with the issue of hermaphrodism  and inter sexuality in the 50's.

                        a. it was on studies on such patients that Money believed that doctors could surgically and hormonally steer inter sexual newborns into whichever sex. This reassignments, however, must be done within the first 2 and a half years of life for psycho sexual reasons.

B. The John Joan case

            1) case was a dream come true for Money. It would unethical to do this to a child on purpose, but the opportunity came to him so he took advantage of it.

            2) For years, Money shared his "success" story with his colleagues through various lectures, interviews, and published writings. The names and all identifying details were kept confidential. (As we know now, this event was not successful)




C. After the John Joan Case

            1) in the 80's Money became particularly interested pedophilia and told Time magazine that

"being the partner of a relative or older person, need not affect the child adversely."

D. Dr. Milton Diamond

            1) challenged Money's thesis and published his findings that the case was not a success.

            2) lead to the Rolling Stone article that helped David go public with his identity.

            3) Dr. Money has never spoke or written on the issue after his thesis was challenged and did not comment after David revealed he would live as a man.

E. Baby Doe

            1) Baby who was castrated during an electrocautery circumcision.

            2) converted into a girl, but "her" lawyers and doctors have refused to comment on the child's emotional and mental state.

            3) psychologist who consulted on this case: Dr. Money