Biological: Money (1975), Ablation Penis: Normal male infant sex-reassigned as a girl



The sexologist John Money, working at the John Hopkins University in the US, strongly believed that gender is determined by social experience after birth and is therefore a result of our upbringing. He believed that all children are born 'gender neutral' and are created as males or females through the way that they are brought up. He tested this theory in the famous case of Bruce/Brenda.


1965 - identical twins Bruce and Brian were born. At 10 months they were sent for circumcision. The technique involved using a hot wire to cut away the foreskin. A mistake in the procedure occurred and Bruce's penis was burnt almost completely off and was unrecognisable. The parents were unsure of how best to bring Bruce up to deal with his 'disability'. They saw Dr. Money on the television talking about inter-sex children being brought up as either male or female. They contacted Dr. Money and the decision was made to bring Bruce up as a female, as it was thought that dealing with his masculinity in the absence of a penis would be too difficult for him later in life. 

1967 - Bruce was surgically castrated, his name changed to Brenda, and his parents began to dress him in dresses and encouraged him to play with dolls. 

From the age of 12, Brenda was given oestrogen to encourage female rather than male puberty.

Money tracked the progress of Brenda over many years as he felt it would be invaluable to measure the development of identical twins who were being brought up into different gender roles. 

  • There were several sources of data collection: Money met with the parents and children, to inform the parents of how to deal with the study, and the children to assess the proceedings of the study; most of the findings were obtained…




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