Dr Money and the case of David Reimer (1975)
· In 1965 in Winnipeg, Canada, Janet Reimer gave birth to identical twin boys; Bruce and Brian. At the age of 10 months, the boys were taken for circumcision to correct a medical problem, Bruce was treated first. However, an accident during the procedure resulted in Bruce’s penis being completely burnt off so that it was unrecognisable.
· After the accident the Reimers happened to see a TV programme where transgender issues were being discussed and the theory of gender neutrality was explained by Dr John Money.
· They contacted Dr Money and asked his advice. Acting on this the Reimers decided to raise Bruce as a girl called ‘Brenda’. They thought that not having a penis would be too difficult for a boy to cope with and that it would be better for him to be raised as a girl so that the lack of penis would not be an issue. With ‘Brenda’ socialised as female Money planned surgery when she got older so that she had female genitalia.
· Money’s theory was that gender development was determined by upbringing more than biological factors. By studying the twins he would be able to see if this was true. He believed that all children were ‘gender neutral’ until the age of about 2 years old, meaning that boys and girls were essentially the same until then. Because Bruce Reimer was less than a year old when the accident happened, and the decision to raise him as a girl was made before the age of 2, it would be possible, according to Money, to raise Bruce as a girl called ‘Brenda’ and no one would ever know ‘she’ was actually a ‘he’.
· From before she was 2 ‘Brenda’ was dressed in female clothing, encouraged to play with ‘girls’ toys and always told that she was a girl – she was not aware of the accident at all! Basic genital surgery was performed on Brenda at the age of 2, where she was surgically castrated (had the testicles removed) and a basic ***** was created to give the appearance of female genitals. At the age of 12, ‘Brenda’ was given Oestrogen to try to encourage female puberty and prevent male features developing such as a deepening voice or facial hair.
· Money tracked ‘Brenda’s’ development over her childhood by organising annual visits for her and Brian to the University. In these he would ask them questions about their preferences and behaviour.
· Money interpreted the data he got from Bruce and ‘Brenda’ as supportive of his theory. He used the case as evidence in a book he wrote on the subject (Man & Woman; Boy & Girl). He stated that ‘Brenda’ had accepted her new role and was successfully living as a female.
· In successive interviews with the twins he reported that ‘Brenda’…