David Reimer: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl In A Gender Experiment

On August 22, 1965, Janet Reimer became one of the happiest mothers in the world as she gave birth to twins. Brian and David (born Bruce) came into this world, but their lives changed forever due to one scientist’s radical theory. The two boys were born normal and healthy but had urinary problems that could only be resolved with circumcision. At six months of age, the twins underwent what should have been a routine operation. The doctors, however, used an unconventional method that resulted in Bruce’s male organ being destroyed. Bruce’s parents, Janet and Ronald Reimer, sought the advice of various professionals but they all agreed that Bruce would have to learn to live without his male organ. Here are the details regarding the weird Nature Vs. Nurture Experiment. Read on to find more…




Part I – The tragic error that caused damages beyond repair to his p*nis.

David Reimer: Part I, the tragic error
Image Source: dailymail

Just six months after birth, the twins from Winnipeg, Canada, were sent to a local hospital for a routine circumcision. The doctor who performed the routine surgery was using electrical equipment that malfunctioned several times. The procedure resulted in Bruce’s p*nis being completely burnt. Because of the damage to Bruce, doctors decided not to operate on Brian. Plastic surgery was not popular in the sixties and even today, doctors don’t recommend performing it on infants.

The family was distraught with the incident and were trying to cope with the loss of their son’s genitalia. It wasn’t until several months after the accident that the family received some hope. Ronald Reimer was watching TV when he stumbled across a program with a highly renowned sexologist, Dr. John Money. The show highlighted sex change operations on transsexuals and even showed a transsexual who was convincingly feminine looking.

Janet Reimer thought that it might possibly be the solution to their problem.

David Riemer and
Image Source: skicenkovice

After Ronald relayed the information to his wife, Janet got the idea of turning their son into a daughter. Janet immediately wrote to Dr. Money, to which he replied and invited the family to visit him in Baltimore, Maryland. The highly intelligent doctor advised the family to dress Bruce as a girl when they visit him. At 18 months of age, Bruce was castrated and a rudimentary vulva was created for him. Once the surgery was performed, the family started calling him Brenda instead of Bruce. They even started treating him like a girl to convince themselves as well as Bruce.




Dr. Money was considered to be an angel by the Reimers and vice versa.

Dr. Money and David Reimer
Image Source: BBC, Sophie

Dr. Money was highly intelligent and studied people with intersex personalities. Surgically, the process of transforming intersex people was easier when it was from male to female. So, doctors often opted out of the standard practice of converting a man to woman. The Johns Hopkins University psychologist was advocating that a feminine identity could be developed by simply portraying the child as a girl. As Bruce was being transformed into Brenda, the information was being hid from everyone, including both Brian and Bruce. The Reimers left for Baltimore, Maryland after making an appointment for the surgery. Upon completion, they came back home with a new daughter. The family then proceeded to raise the child as a female and not inform her about her past or medical history.

Part II – The transformation of a boy into a girl.

David Reimer
Image Source 1, 2

The family was persistent on transforming Bruce to Brenda. Though the protocol of creating a gentle lady was ongoing, it wasn’t easy for the Reimers. The family’s efforts were being resisted by Brenda. She rejected girl toys, clothing and any activities related to it. Even though her mother tried to have her mimic her movements and styles, Brenda was more interested in her father and his activities. As Brenda grew older, she saw herself more masculine than a woman. The only other person who agreed with her within the family was her brother, who recalls that the only difference they had between them was Bruce having hair longer than Brian.

As Brenda was growing up, the Nature Vs. Nurture experiment was ongoing. Nurture, not nature, determines how we feel. Depending on the people around us, we may feel more feminine or masculine. When Brenda was 5 years old, Dr. Money started to publish her case; disguising her as Joan/John in his books. Though the book was a huge sensation, it wasn’t going that well for the Reimer family. Brenda was climbing trees, picking fights with other children and growing lonely. She had no friends and even her own brother was ashamed of playing with her since other children would make fun of her.




Part III continued on the next page.

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