Tragic Tale of a Boy Raised as a Girl in a Failed Medical Experiment

This is a story of a science experiment gone very wrong, one where the lines of nature versus nurture become blurred beyond repair. When twins Bruce ad David Reimer were born in Canada, 1965, the family were overjoyed, however when a routine circumcision went horribly wrong, the nightmare began.

The circumcision was botched and Brice’s penis was burnt to the extent that no restorative surgery could fix. At this point, Bruce’s parents decided to go to drastic measures, and turned to Dr. John Money, the Dr. that was known for his gender reassignment surgeries. The plan was to operate on Bruce, and raise him as a girl.

The Initial Sex Change Success

Dr. Money was of the opinion that gender was a fluid concept, and that Bruce, with the help of some medical procedures, would completely identify as a girl. How very wrong he was. despite his genital reconstructive surgery at 17 months old, the fact that he would no longer produce testosterone, and that his parents called him Brenda from the time he was a baby, none of this stopped Bruce from eventually knowing something was very wrong.


Although early on, Dr. Money considered the sex change a success since she was doing well socially and despite some tomboy characteristics, seemed like a happy child, at 13 years old things began to change. Brenda felt very masculine, was made fun of, and isolated herself completely from those around her. She became a loner and had to deal with her inner confusions and turmoil without knowing the truth- that she was born a boy.

The Truth Exposed

Despite Dr. Money’s insistence that this depression was just a phase, Brenda’s parents decided it was time to tell the twins the truth, that they were born twin brothers. Brenda changed her name to David immediately and finally felt like a semblance of his life made sense. He started to undergo hormone therapy and could have his penis reconstructed. He even got married in 1990, and although he could not have his own children, he became a stepfather of his wife’s three children.


However, this story ends tragically, proving that medical experiments on people are never a good idea. As one can imagine, when the truth was exposed both twins were beyond devastated and never really got over the shock and horror. Brian, the twin brother died of a drug overdose and Davis, never fully coming to terms with the lie he was brought up with, committed suicide in 2004.

This tragic tale has thought the medical community a strong lesson. Any forced surgery, any change on someone that is not old enough to agree, is a terrible and cruel idea and no one should have to suffer that way again.

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