As Nature Made Him: Nature vs. Nurture

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The debate between nature and nurture continues to perplex society, particularly when trying to determine the appropriate course of action in certain situations. One of these instances is sex change, a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. This decision is not straightforward when confronted with complications such as hermaphroditism or botched circumcisions. These challenging choices arise because we have yet to comprehend which factors to prioritize, as we have not definitively established whether a child’s sexual identity is influenced by nature or nurture. Until we unravel this enigma, it is advisable not to alter a child’s sex before they are capable of determining their own sexual identity. Allowing nature to take its course without human intervention is the solution.

Over time, there has been an increasing popularity in sex change for infants with ambiguous or deformed genitals. However, it is often found that these children are unsatisfied with their assigned gender. According to Colapinto, Dr. Harry Benjamin discovered that in a majority of his patients, childhood conditioning was not a determining factor in their belief that they were living in the wrong gender. This implies that nature plays a bigger role than nurture in sexual identity. Dr. John Money, who worked at John Hopkins Hospital, was responsible for the famous John/Joan “twin case.” Although his theories seemed well-thought-out at the time, they have since been proven incorrect, which explains the failure of the “twin case.” Colapinto explains that Dr. Money realized through his research on hermaphroditical children that those raised as girls were happy as girls and those raised as boys were happy as boys. This led him to believe that hermaphrodites were born with a malleable gender. However, Money made the mistake of generalizing this observation to everyone when it only applied to a specific group.

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The ongoing debate about nature vs. nurture often centers around the unsuccessful twin case, with some scientists still believing that nurture plays a larger role in determining sexual identity. They remain hopeful in unraveling the mystery surrounding this topic (Jonis Portfolio). According to Jonis Portfolio, gender is a complex combination of hormones, brain function, attitudes, behaviors, and social expectations. Colapinto and the authors of Jonis Portfolio mention how firmly “she” insisted on living according to her genetic and chromosomal sex (Colapinto 72). Typically, children who have undergone sexual reassignment exhibit behaviors that align with their genetic code. However, there are outliers who do not fit this pattern. Once scientists began questioning Dr.Money’s theories, they realized the illogicality of trying to change the gender of children predisposed to be a certain gender.As Jonis states, gender identification is a complex issue (Jonis Portfolio). In their eagerness for solutions, scientists sometimes rush to conclusions and decisions without adequate evidence.Colapinto references the New York Times book review of Dr.Money’s book “Man vs.Woman Boy vs.Girl,” which argues that if a boy is raised as a girl, he will naturally be inclined towards feminine activities (Colapinto 70).Money’s work was marked by numerous incorrect conclusions, which eroded confidence in his theories. Despite being highly respected in the scientific community, even his most outlandish ideas garnered widespread support. Consequently, his theories were widely embraced. Nonetheless, we now acknowledge that his research was mostly flawed. Presently, it is commonly acknowledged that determining gender assignment based on nature rather than nurture is preferable, particularly when there are no initial concerns with inherent gender.

Children often bear the burden of discovering their sexual identity, or finding themselves. If doctors and scientists complicate the lives of these children by trying to change who they are, they will inevitably lose their way. This is exactly what happened in the John/Joan case with David Reimer, formerly known as John/Joan, who sadly ended his own life. While nurture can influence sexual identity, research indicates that nature has a stronger impact. It is crucial for scientists and doctors not to interfere with nature because ultimately, it will prevail.


The book “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl” by John Colapinto in 2000 provides a detailed account of the John/Joan twin case. This case involves the incorrect gender assignment of a biological male who underwent an unsuccessful circumcision. Colapinto thoroughly explores all aspects of the case and emphasizes its troubling outcome. Through extensive research and interviews with primary sources, the author effectively presents a coherent explanation of the case to readers. This essay primarily relies on this book as it offers a comprehensive examination of the case from multiple perspectives. A key argument presented in the book is the dominant influence of nature, rather than nurture, in determining one’s sexual identity.

“Jonisportfolio – Sexual Reassignment and Gender Roles Nature VS Nurture.” Jonisportfolio – Sexual Reassignment and Gender Roles Nature VS Nurture. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2013.

This online portfolio by Jonis Portfolio addresses the complex topic of nature vs. nurture and its relationship with sexual identity. It explores numerous instances where individuals assigned female at birth but later identified as males, highlighting the influence of nature in determining sexual identity. This information is invaluable for this essay as it presents key arguments related to the nature vs. nurture debate. The portfolio also delves into the famous John/Joan case, providing insight into its outcomes.

The video titled “YouTube” is a production by Allan Gregg that features an interview with both Allan Gregg and John Colapinto. The interview focuses on the John/Joan case, which is elaborated upon in Colapinto’s book As Nature Made Him. Unfortunately, David Reimer, who was also known as John/Joan, was unable to participate in the interview due to his tragic suicide in 2002. This video provides a helpful overview of the book and aids viewers in comprehending the subject more effectively than simply reading about it.

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As Nature Made Him: Nature vs. Nurture. (2016, Jul 22). Retrieved from

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