The Boy Without Penis
In 1966, a botched electrical circumcision left David Reimer (then named Bruce) without a penis. A malfunction in the doctor’s equipment (electro-cautery needle) caused the needle to burn Reimer’s penis from tip to base. The Reimer’s were left with a dilemma: a son with no penis. They visited several medical experts who assured them that penile reconstruction would prove worthless. The Reimer’s were devastated and did not know how to help David. One afternoon when the Reimer’s saw Dr.
John Money, a so-called expert in sex reassignment, on television they contacted him and brought their son to see him. It would prove to be a tragic decision. Money persuaded the Reimer’s to reassign their son as a female by having his testes removed and naming him Brenda. Dr. Money assured the initially reluctant parents that after the operation was complete raising him as a girl would be successful and no one would be any the wiser. The Reimer’s trusting in the doctor agreed so their child may have a normal life.
The Boy Without Penis Essay Example
Money met with ”Brenda” once a year throughout the following years to report on her progress. In spite of growing evidence that Brenda was not adjusting well to her gender reassignment, Money published papers to the contrary. In psychiatric circles to protect Reimer’s identity Money referred to “Brenda” as John/Joan. Money’s experiment became well-known in psychiatric communities worldwide and partly as a result of Money’s publications, a number of infants born with ambiguous genitalia underwent gender reassignment.
However many psychologists were unconvinced about the John/Joan experiment. One of these was academic sexologist Milton Diamond, who, in a bold move against Money reported to the psychiatric community that Reimer never identified as female, and that he began living as a male from the age of 15. Sexual reassignment in the Reimer case is not a gender identity disorder. He was born male unlike than intersex (hermaphrodite) individuals. Intersex is a term that usually defines discordance of the biological aspects of sexual gender.
Traits related to the genitalia, such as internal organs, gonadal tissue, or chromosomes that are more typical of the other sex, or incompletely differentiated define the intersex individual. Sub-types of hermaphroditism include: 1. Pseudohermaphroditism Typically a female has a clitoris that is greatly enlarged to the point that they are categorized as intersexed. These people are identified immediately at birth as intersex because those with the condition have a sexual organ larger than a clitoris and smaller than a penis 2.
Simultaneous hermaphrodite (intersex) A simultaneous hermaphrodite (homogamy) is a person that has both male and female sexual organs. This definition tends to be misleading since there have been very few human beings with fully developed male and female internal and external genitalia and female breasts. Normally one genitalia is more prominent than the other. Some people who are intersex individuals, such as those with Klinefelter’s syndrome and androgen insensitivity syndrome, appear completely female or male without realizing they are intersexed.
An intersex person may express diversion from typical XX-female or XY-male chromosomes, for example a sex reversal of XY-female and XX-male. Sometimes an intersex person who is born with partially formed dual genitalia prefers one gender over the other. Sometimes they don’t. Their commonality with David Reimer is that the assignment of their gender should be their own choice rather than that of the medical community. One of the most difficult experiences Reimer faced due to his increasingly unusual looks and behaviours was rejection from his peers.
He became a pariah during his elementary school years. From as early as kindergarten, he was a target for bullying by both male and female. “As [I’d ]walk by, they’d start giggling. Not one, but almost the whole class. It’d be like that every day. The whole school would make fun of [me] about one thing or another. ” In his early teens Reimer attended a technical high school. Right away his peers dubbed him Cave-woman and told him, “You’re a boy. ” But it was his habit of urinating standing up that caused the greatest problem between Reimer and his schoolmates.
The girls prevented him from using their bathroom. When he tried to use the boys’ room he was threatened with a knife. By December, he dropped out of school. with struggling against emotional uncertainty about his life and his innate attraction to females, Reimer made no friends and was forcibly a loner. During puberty Reimer’s erroneous belief that he was a lesbian added to his emotional angst. The David Reimer case also serves to reinforce the scientific hypothesis that sexual orientation is not one of choice.
Sexual orientation is innate, not solely a result of environmental influences although the latter may have some bearing. Watch video Science & Homosexuality: Nature vs Nurture No single cause for sexual orientation is conclusively proven. Researchers suggest that a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, along with biological factors, genetics and the early uterine environment bear significant influence on sexual orientation. I tend to favour the physio-neurological theory myself. I didn’t choose to be straight.
I just am. Watch video Gay Twins and the Science of Epigenetics. We both wanted to play with guys, build forts and have snowball fights and play army. ” Reimer finally reached a point where he told his parents if he had to visit his psychologist Dr. Money anymore he would kill himself. It was then that his parents chose to tell him the truth about his gender. Surprisingly, Reimer took the news well. It answered a lot of difficult questions and he began to live his life as a male. He did not use his birth name of Bruce. He chose David.
Throughout his teens Reimer seemed well-adjusted and was much happier than he’d been as Brenda. Eventually Reimer met a woman named Jane Fontaine, a single mother. They married and Reimer became both a husband and father. It was during this well-adjusted time in his life that Reimer discovered Dr. Money was still claiming that Reimer’s sex reassignment was highly successful. Money encouraged the medical and psychiatric communities to conduct the same procedures on children with genital deformities or ambiguous genitalia.
Most likely it was due to two factors that Reimer chose to go public with his personal experience in an effort to contradict Money’s publications: he was secure within his marriage to a supportive spouse and he was determined to expose Money as a fraud. Reimer took part in public television and magazine interviews. When released to the public Reimer’s story loosed an unexpected reaction. Intersex people born and reassigned after the publication of Money’s false protocols came forward with their stories. Among them was a San Francisco activist named Cheryl Chase/Brian Sullivan.
When she was born Chase displayed ambiguous genitalia with a phallic structure of a size that, if she was female, could be an enlarged clitoris or if she was male, a micropenis. Her doctors assigned Chase as a boy and her parents named her Charlie. But 18 months later, her parents consulted another team of experts. Based partly on the fact that Chase had a fairly normal vagina, this team of doctors reassigned her as a girl. They amputated her phallus and her parents named her Cheryl. After the operation Cheryl refused to speak for 6 months. In 1995 Chase changed her name again to Bonnie Sullivan.
In her mid-30? s Cheryl experienced a mental breakdown due to the reassignment of her gender. Chase advocates a complex perspective of intersexuality, namely that gender difficulties cannot be eliminated by early genital surgery. ears after Reimer’s public appearances, John Colapinto conducted a telephone interview with John Money, who refused to meet in person. His response to Calopinto`s observation that scientists and psychologists have disproven his book Man & Woman, Boy & Girl wherein he discussed the John-Joan experiment was, “It’s part of the antifeminist movement.
They say masculinity and femininity are built into the genes, so women should get back to the mattress and the kitchen. ” Money stood by his original summary of the Reimer case and dismissed Colapinto’s suggestion that he “misperceived” Reimer’s psychological condition. Colapinto reiterated that significant scientific evidence leaned towards the hypothesis that gender assignment was not as simple as reassigning gender, and asked Money if he was considering making some alternations to Man & Woman, Boy & Girl to which Money replied flatly, “I’ll be dead by then. Suitably, an ambiguous answer from a man who spent most of his career misleading parents and children about ambiguous genitalia. As with many family traumas Reimer’s sex reassignment deeply effected his whole family. “My parents feel very guilty, as if the whole thing was their fault,” Reimer told Colapinto. “But it wasn’t like that. They did what they did out of kindness, and love and desperation. When you’re desperate, you don’t necessarily do all the right things. ” Reimer could not possibly have forseen the effect his public appearances would have on his brother Brian.
Unable to accept Reimer’s openly candid description of his life, and still unable to accept that what was once his sister was now his brother, Brian committed suicide by drug overdose. fter Brian’s suicide Reimer experienced a series of unfortunate developments:his marriage disintegrated; he found himself unable to maintain stable employment; he experienced financial difficulty after making a poor investment; his anger at Dr. Money and the medical doctor responsible for his gender reassignment intensified; and his depression returned to haunt him. In May 2004 at the age of 38 Reimer committed suicide with a shotgun.