from Gender Identity Disorders
By James E. Phelan, MSW, Psy.D.
When I reflect on the death of prominent psychologist and sexologist Dr. John Money, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, I think about his role in the so-called "gender identity" movement. He is said to have laid the foundation for the transgender movement by starting the gender identity program at Johns Hopkins.
The case that stands out most is the case of David Reimer, a baby boy whose parents were convinced, after a seriously bungled circumcision, to turn their son into a daughter. At Money's persuasion, the parents agreed to have their son surgically rendered anatomically female.
Later, the child received estrogen injections and was raised as a girl under Money's supervision at the Psychohormonal Research Unit at Johns Hopkins. This so-called "gender reassignment," was touted as a triumph by Money. He noted, "...it had been a complete success, proving that biology has nothing to do with your sexual identity."
Only years afterward was the sad truth revealed, because all along, David was yearning to be a boy, did not want to wear dresses, and rejected his female identity. This later came out later in Rolling Stone magazine, and then in a book called As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto. It showed how Money falsified the findings in order to prove that gender is just a construct in the head. Tragically, David committed suicide at the age of 38 in 2004.
Money's misrepresentations of his findings and his unreported failure with David Reimer have led more or less directly to the surgical reassignment of thousands of infants as a matter of policy at many medical institutions. Money's ideas have also influenced many teens and adults to try to address their psychological gender-identity confusion with drastic sexual reassignment surgery.
Two years ago, Paul McHugh, chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, expressed distaste for the way many in the psychiatric community have encouraged patients to pursue sexual reassignment. He observed that psychiatrists, instead of counseling people who were questioning their gender identity to visit a surgeon, should have been helping clients restore their actual gender identity.
Colapinto, J. "The True Story of John/Joan." Rolling Stone, December 11, 1997: 54-97.
_____. (2000). As nature made him: The boy who was raised as a girl. New York: HarperCollins.