melydia's Reviews > As Nature Made Him : The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl

As Nature Made Him  by John Colapinto
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's review
Sep 30, 2009

really liked it
Read in October, 2012

In the late 1960s, the Reimers give birth to identical twin boys. When one is mutilated in a botched circumcision, they follow the advice of psychologist John Money to have the boy surgically castrated and raised as a girl. Money believes that people are sexually neutral at birth, that gender identity is entirely the product of environment, not biology. Identical twin boys give him the perfect opportunity to prove this theory. The "girl" rebels from the start, knowing something is wrong, but still the experiment continues, growing more disturbing over time. The psychologist even has the twins engaging in pretend sex play, nude, while he takes pictures.

This is not a novel. This actually happened. The whole thing is both highly disturbing and undeniably compelling. I was absolutely appalled at much of what went on under the guise of medicine, and at what lengths Money went to in order to confirm his cherished theories. The good news is that much of this led to changes in the field of sexual psychology, but that doesn't make it less infuriating to read about. Definitely recommended if you're at all interested in gender identity, but it's a bit hard to take at times.

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