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The Boy Who Was Turned Into a Girl

In 1965 in the Canadian town of Winnipeg, Janet Reimer gave birth to twin boys – Bruce and Brian. Six months later a bungled circumcision left Bruce without a penis. Based on a radical new theory of gender development the decision was taken to raise Bruce as a girl. In 1967 Bruce became Brenda and for the next three decades this case would be at the heart of one of the most controversial theories in the history of science.

The man behind this work was world-renowned psychologist Dr John Money. In the 1950s Dr Money developed a theory that revolutionised our understanding of gender. Money believed that what he called our ‘gender identity’ – what makes us think, feel and behave as boys or girls – is not fully formed by the time of birth. While we may have some innate sense of being a boy or a girl, for up to two years after birth, our brains are, in effect, malleable and we can be taught to grow up as either a boy or girl by how we are raised – by the toys we are given, the guidance we receive from adults and the clothes we are given to wear. This became known as the ‘theory of gender neutrality’.

Dr Money had reached this conclusion by working with a rare group of individuals born with ambiguous genitals – people known as intersexuals or hermaphrodites. Dr Money studied groups of intersex children, and concluded that these children could be brought up as either boys or girls regardless of their genetic or physical sex. The legacy of Dr Money’s work was a revolution in the treatment of ‘intersex’. From the 1950s to the present day many intersex children born with a tiny penis are reassigned as female even if they are actually genetically male.

But not everyone agreed with Dr Money’s theories. Since the 1950s a small group of scientists including Dr Milton Diamond have questioned John Money’s work. Diamond believed that our sex is already defined in our brains before we are born. He was convinced that the power of our genes and hormones was so strong that no amount of nurturing could override them.

But John Money’s theory had already become firmly accepted around the world and the most dramatic confirmation of the theory came from one particular case – the case of Bruce Reimer.

Bruce was a normal boy, not an intersex child, and yet the decision was made to turn this boy who had lost his penis, into a girl. Under the guidance of Dr Money and his team at Johns Hopkins University this baby boy was surgically changed into a girl. After surgeons at Hopkins had castrated baby Bruce, he became baby Brenda. The family were instructed how to bring up Brenda as a normal little girl. According to Dr Money’s theory she would grow up believing herself to be female and would go on to live a normal happy life as a woman. It seemed the ultimate test that nurture could override nature.

Thirty years after Bruce became Brenda, the impact of this extraordinary story continues. After almost 14 years living as a female, Brenda Reimer reverted to her true biological sex – the case of the boy who was turned into a girl had failed. Brenda took the name David and for the last twenty years he has lived anonymously in his hometown of Winnipeg. For almost all this time no one knew the outcome of John Money’s celebrated case. But now that David has gone public, the case is being widely discussed once again and its impact on John Money’s theory of gender development and the treatment of intersex children is being hotly debated.

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  1. Some little known facts about this case:

    * David Reimer was raised male until the age of 2-2.5, which they KNEW was beyond the age a baby could potentially be raised as the opposite sex (even if they were intersex…which he wasn’t).

    * Dr. Money forced David & his brother to engage in sexually abusive “therapies” as kids that resulted in extreme & lasting trauma for both of them. David committed suicide & his brother developed schizophrenia shortly after being told about his brother’s secret & also committed suicide.

    * The whole element of being lied to by your family must be considered. Aside from just “feeling wrong,” David was deceived by everyone who was supposed to protect him, including his doctors. He was referred to as “Joan/John” in medical literature for years like some kind of human experiment, which is exactly what he was to them: A piece of cold, hard data obtained by unethical means.

    His case is now trotted out by transgender activists to support their belief that “gender identity” is fixed in the brain or something, but they fail to acknowledge the other complex factors mentioned above. David was neither intersex NOR transsexual so his case is completely unique & not applicable to any other situation.

    (Side note: I’ve always suspected this was a pre-planned twin study in which the botched circumcision was done on purpose & Dr. Money was allowed to swoop in & make the most of a bad situation (wink-wink). David’s brother was the ‘control’ & David was the guinea pig–both died prematurely due to the Mengele-like torture of this pervert & it was passed off as ‘the best we knew how to do at the time’. Their mom left them unattended at the hospital & the rest is history. Who uses an electric circumcision machine anyway?)

  2. dont rely want be come a gril just want to look like a gril see a gril is want my mom wants my mom that i was going to be a gril so i do whait my non that i wold be

  3. I am awaiting for ur comments

  4. Hi Friend ! Nice 2 meet u. Really it is nice 2 born as Girl. But i was not lucy 2 born as girl but i feel like a girl. i feel one girl staying in me and want 2 come outside. I thanx my family 2 allowing me 2 be girl. I was under medical treatment since last 8 years. in Dec 2014 my last sex change operation will be done and there after i can live as full fledged girl. I am so lucy that i can done sex reassignment surgery ( SRC ). PL pray for me so i can be nice girl.

  5. So it’s been commonly accepted that one can switch around genders purely based on upbrining?  Have I been living under a rock?

  6. As others have said, this is fascinating material but a repetitive and dumbed down account of the events. It hurt my brain to watch the whole thing…towards the end I kept skipping forward in increments to see if they were saying anything new. They weren’t.

  7. As others have said, this is fascinating material but a repetitive and dumbed down account of the events. It hurt my brain to watch the whole thing…towards the end I kept skipping forward in increments to see if they were saying anything new. They weren’t.

  8. As others have said, this is fascinating material but a repetitive and dumbed down account of the events. It hurt my brain to watch the whole thing…towards the end I kept skipping forward in increments to see if they were saying anything new. They weren’t.

  9. As others have said, this is fascinating material but a repetitive and dumbed down account of the events. It hurt my brain to watch the whole thing…towards the end I kept skipping forward in increments to see if they were saying anything new. They weren’t.

  10. Disturbing!

  11. Surely it would been much easier to just reconstruct another penis?

  12. Surely it would been much easier to just reconstruct another penis?

  13. Surely it would been much easier to just reconstruct another penis?

  14. Surely it would been much easier to just reconstruct another penis?

  15. Surely it would been much easier to just reconstruct another penis?

    • Nope. As the saying goes, “It’s easier to dig a hole than build a pole.”

      Disgusting that humans are reduced to their genitalia like that by doctors, but it’s still the reality for intersex people in most places.

  16. What a stupid Doctor. Inter-sex children are way different – if they are born with imbalance of relevant hormones then it means that they have both female and male hormones in them, and therefore they can be easily turned either into a boy or a girl, regardless of the look of their genitalia. However, it is perfectly clear that Bruce was born as a boy, he only had MALE hormones in them, how then they even tried to turn him into a girl? cruel b********

    • Also: They waited until David was over 2 years old to make the switch. You don’t even do that with intersex kids. I vividly remember my 2nd birthday & other memories from being that age (I know because we lived somewhere different & my 1st sibling was born when I was 3). I would absolutely 100% recall having a sex change if it happened at 2 or 2 and a half.

      Even if David didn’t consciously remember living as a male, somewhere in his sub-conscience is the truth of who he is/was. And I’m sure his identical twin brother was a constant reminder. Twins have a unique bond that others don’t fully grasp. This doc also doesn’t get into the sexual abuse both brothers experienced at the hands of “Dr. Money”.

  17. What a stupid Doctor. Inter-sex children are way different – if they are born with imbalance of relevant hormones then it means that they have both female and male hormones in them, and therefore they can be easily turned either into a boy or a girl, regardless of the look of their genitalia. However, it is perfectly clear that Bruce was born as a boy, he only had MALE hormones in them, how then they even tried to turn him into a girl? cruel b********

  18. What a stupid Doctor. Inter-sex children are way different – if they are born with imbalance of relevant hormones then it means that they have both female and male hormones in them, and therefore they can be easily turned either into a boy or a girl, regardless of the look of their genitalia. However, it is perfectly clear that Bruce was born as a boy, he only had MALE hormones in them, how then they even tried to turn him into a girl? cruel b********

  19. Wait, but surely it would have been much easier to transplant to this boy a new male genitalia, then to remove what he was left with, and replace it with a female genitalia?

  20. Wait, but surely it would have been much easier to transplant to this boy a new male genitalia, then to remove what he was left with, and replace it with a female genitalia?

  21. My god – how many times could this documentary say the EXACT same thing? I FFW like 6 times and everytime i stop they’re reiterating the theory that our gender identity can be shaped.  Fascinating subject, terrible documentary.

  22. My god – how many times could this documentary say the EXACT same thing? I FFW like 6 times and everytime i stop they’re reiterating the theory that our gender identity can be shaped.  Fascinating subject, terrible documentary.

  23. “The Boy Who Was Turned Into A Girl”well, not the first one in our modern worldxD

  24. Winnipeg is a CITY not a town, fix your article please. 
    Check your facts.Trust me I live there!

  25. Any body who circumcises their baby boys are evil pieces of total garbage. Unless you think god or nature made a mistake; and if you believe that you are stupid beyond belief.

    • Circumcision drastically reduces the rates of HIV & other STD’s. The lack of it in Africa is largely credited with the spread of AIDS before it hit Haiti & the U.S. It also reduces the likelihood of penile cancer & UTI’s.

      That’s like saying PAP smears or other preventative medicine are “evil” because they’re not natural. Cancer itself is 100% natural but it’ll kill your ass in a heartbeat. Women with HPV-induced pre-cancers get portions of their cervixes scraped off while wide awake to avoid cancer but you don’t hear us complaining. (Google: Cone biopsy or LEEP procedure). Oh, and your smelly uncut dicks increase the risk of cervical cancer for women too.

      Have a nice day.

    • I agree, but in this documentary it’s stated the foreskin was removed due to a medical condition. In this case it seems that nature did make a mistake. Belief in a god should never decide what you do to others.

      • idd it was explained that in this case circumcision was medically needed as the boys couldn’t urinate properly,it wasn’t a circumcision done based on the vanity that it looks good etc. No idea why the hospital decided to go against normal procedure and use a laser, I’d sue them tbh. I think the sadest thing is that they have such a lack of information of what happens to the people after the operation. If more people came forward then they’d probably stop doing it to future people.

      • idd it was explained that in this case circumcision was medically needed as the boys couldn’t urinate properly,it wasn’t a circumcision done based on the vanity that it looks good etc. No idea why the hospital decided to go against normal procedure and use a laser, I’d sue them tbh. I think the sadest thing is that they have such a lack of information of what happens to the people after the operation. If more people came forward then they’d probably stop doing it to future people.

    • I agree, but in this documentary it’s stated the foreskin was removed due to a medical condition. In this case it seems that nature did make a mistake. Belief in a god should never decide what you do to others.

  26. Any body who circumcises their baby boys are evil pieces of total garbage. Unless you think god or nature made a mistake; and if you believe that you are stupid beyond belief.

  27. Sad epilogue: Both David and his twin brother committed suicide.

    There is another good documentary in the “related docos” thingie above, “Dr Money and the Boy with No Penis”, on this family and their experiences.

  28. Winnipeg has been a city since 19th centuty, not a “town.” When you can’t get such a simple fact right it casts a poor light on the entire thing.

  29. Winnipeg has been a city since 19th centuty, not a “town.” When you can’t get such a simple fact right it casts a poor light on the entire thing.

  30. Winnipeg has been a city since 19th centuty, not a “town.” When you can’t get such a simple fact right it casts a poor light on the entire thing.

    • wow i didnt relise there was Head up their ass perfectionists on this site. Heres an idea Go get a job and stop complaining about small lil things like that phallus on your head None.

  31. I read the book on this! It was fascinating! Look for it:

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