Monday, October 29, 2007


I just finished reading the most amazing, riveting, emotionally challenging, heart wrenching, yet full of hope book that tells the true life story of David Reimer, who in his early life was raised as 'Brenda'. At about 8 months old, identical twin brothers Bruce and Brian Reimer were taken for medically necessary circumcisions. Bruce, the oldest twin, went in 1st for the procedure which resulted in the complete burning off of his penis. Because phalloplasties were not performed during this time, the decision was subsequently made to raise him as a girl who would later receive hormone treatments and a medically constructed vagina. They castrated him to stop the development of testosterone and 'Brenda' was born.

His parents only wanted the best for him and followed the advice of Dr. John Money, the leading sex doctor of his generation. He strongly believed that 'nurture' far outweighed 'nature' in the development of a child's sexual/gender identity. Until the age of 14, Brenda always felt like a boy trapped in the body of a girl even though she never had a real vagina which she adamantly refused. At 14, in the words of Venus Extravaganza, she "...went back to being a man." She adapted the name David as a testament to her strength and fortitude to overcome the giant which was her gender issue. David would become a loving husband and father of 3 step-children.

The gross arrogance of medicine and Dr. Money who only used the Reimers to prove his theories is appalling and scary. David's case proves that for him and, ultimately most people, sexual identity and sexual preference are hardwired by nature. Not enough dresses, makeup or even the lack of a penis and testicles could make him a girl or attracted to men. Nature vs. nurture is not completely black and white - both sides are relevant and one doesn't exclude the other. There are instances of boys who were molested by men and then became unsure of their sexuality. But for the most part, kids identify with being gay are what they are from the get go, as most gay people will attest.

I hope this teaches people to listen to children, who can sometimes tell and show us the truth in the simplest of ways if we could just put ourselves and our own agendas out of the way. Brenda did for 14 years with hardly anyone paying attention. All of this was to prove a test that ultimately failed - a wasted childhood.

Love and care for ALL children, even those that have gender and sexual identity issues - they deserve acceptance for who they ARE, not for our expectations. Gender identity and sexual identity are not always concurrent which accounts for the vast range of multi layered gender and sexual expressions (IE straight cross dressers, ultra butch gay men, sissy straight men, butch straight women, etc). It is the ignorance of this fact that allow people to easily discriminate, to hate and to demonize people who challenge 'the norm' yet are completely natural and true to themselves. Accept people for who they are.


Deirdré said...

I just ran across your book review of As Nature Made Him and wondered if I could use part of it in our little library newsletter as you articulated my own sentiments so well! Thanks in advance. Please let me know at

Anonymous said...

the most amazing book on identity/gender.incredible.