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Man raised as a girl after losing penis to circumcision commits suicide

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Published on Sep 18, 2010

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David Reimer (birth name Bruce) was born an identical twin in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At 6 months of age both boys were mistakenly diagnosed with phimosis, a natural condition of the infant penis. The so-called doctor Jean-Marie Huot botched the first circumcision completely destroying Bruce's penis. Twin Brian's circumcision was canceled; he made a full recovery from his "condition" of phimosis, without further treatment.

Shortly after the botched circumcision Bruce's mother Janet saw a television interview with John Money, a physician from John Hopkins Hospital who worked with cases of gender identity, transsexuality and intersex conditions. Janet wondered if perhaps she had found an answer to the horrific situation her baby was in, could Bruce be raised as a girl?

John Money thought he saw an opportunity to prove gender is learned behavior, and Bruce was an ideal subject with his twin brother Brian as a scientific control. Bruce was reassigned as Brenda. Money reported several times that the experiment was a success, and Brenda had adjusted well and liked to help her mother with traditionally female tasks around the house. Money built much of his career and theories of gender on the "successful" outcome of this case. Reality was far from the rosy domestic picture Money was reporting, Brenda never adjusted.

As a young teenager, refusing to take the prescribed female hormones and facing vaginoplasty surgery, Brenda rebelled to the point that her father broke down and confessed to her the botched circumcision which had led to the forced feminization. Brenda immediately assumed a male identity and took the name David.

When David's story came to national attention in 1997 John Money's reputation was over. Jean Marie Hout however, the doctor who destroyed David's infant penis was rarely mentioned. In fact many of the mainstream articles reporting David's story even failed to report that David's penis had been destroyed in a botched circumcision. Some only said "the baby lost his penis in an accident" thereby shifting blame from the circumcision "doctor" to the baby! Almost every report of David's story focused on miss-assigned gender and intersex conditions, even though David was neither. Our culture cannot face the truth, that David's natural condition had been misdiagnosed, his penis needlessly destroyed, and that circumcision was to blame.

In 2004 David took his own life. This report show how even after his death the blame remains firmly on John Money and mistreatment of intersex conditions, while the real criminal, the circumciser Jean-Marie Huot gets away without notice, even six years after his death.

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