The Case Study of David Reimer- An Unethical Experiment

Topics: Transgender, Ethics, Gender identity Pages: 2 (825 words) Published: October 22, 2013
The Case Study of David Reimer

In 1965 in Winnipeg, Canada, Janet Reimer gave birth to healthy, identical twin boys, Bruce and Brian. Around the age of 6 months, both boys began having urinary difficulties. They were referred for circumcision at 8 months. The routine procedure went horribly wrong when the boy’s urologist decided to use an electro-cautery needle instead of a typically used scalpel on Bruce. His genital organs were completely destroyed and could not be surgically repaired. The doctors chose not to perform the surgery on his brother, Brian. ( After seeing many doctors and no offered hope, the Reimer’s decided to visit psychologist John Money. They first saw Money on a television show one night where he discussed his theories about gender. He was being called the world’s leading expert in gender identity. They brought their sons to John Hopkin’s Hospital in Baltimore. ( Money told the naïve, young parents that gender reassignment surgery would be their best option. He told them that Bruce would be happy and healthy if he was raised as a girl and they believed his claims. Bruce would be brought up as a sterile female and eventually receive estrogen to feminize him and make him go through puberty as a woman. When he was 22 months of age, Bruce had an orchiectomy but did not receive a full sex change. What Bruce’s (now Brenda’s) parents did not know is that their son was nothing more than an experiment for John Money. He wanted to prove that nurture determines gender identity and sexual orientation, not nature. He saw Bruce as the perfect patient to test on because he was the only developmentally normal child to receive a sex change. More importantly, Bruce had an identical twin brother who could act as the “control”. ( John Money published numerous reports throughout Brenda’s childhood. He stated that she was a happy, normal little girl. This could not...
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