It started as a routine circumcision at a hospital in Manitoba, a province of Canada:
Ordinarily, a pediatrician skilled in circumcision would have done the job. But no pediatrician was available that day. So an unskilled general practitioner performed the surgery with a cautery needle made hot by an electric current. But the needle got too hot. As a result, Bruce’s entire penis was burned off. (Brian was spared circumcision, and his condition later resolved itself without surgery.)
Specialists were unable to offer the distraught parents any hope. Then, in February 1967, they went to see John Money in Baltimore. He advised them to have Bruce fully castrated and raise him as a girl. Money assured them that the child’s gender was still unformed. If they consistently treated him as a girl, “she” would grow up to be happy in that role.
The Reimers returned home, stopped cutting Bruce’s hair, and renamed him “Brenda.” A few months later they returned with the child to Johns Hopkins, where Bruce’s testicles were surgically removed on July 3. The surgeon then refashioned the skin of his scrotum to resemble the labia of an infant girl. The child was 22 months old…
(This material is based on John Colapinto’s well-researched biography, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.)Jonathan Wells, “Money, Sex, and Gender” at Evolution News and Science Today
And that kid always knew who and what he really was.
I won’t kid you, the story ends tragically (1965–2004) but it is nonetheless a testimony to the human spirit. Especially when finally, finally, he turns on his social engineers—even though he was doomed.
I knew this story from way back when, in Canada, but it had largely disappeared from view, due likely to discomfort with the topic. Accolades to Jonathan Wells for bringing the tragic story back to light.
There are lots of would-be social engineers out there, maybe more now than then.
Here’s the book: As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
See also: Is It a Boy or a Girl?