David Reimer: The Boy Who Lived As A Girl

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David Reimer was a boy who underwent an involuntary gender reassignment after an unconventional circumcision gone wrong. Dr. Money, a pro-nurture advocate, convinced his parents to raise him as a girl, and he endured many difficulties throughout his childhood, including gender confusion, social isolation, and mood swings. Despite attempts to live a normal life as a man, David faced many hardships, battled depression, attempted suicide, and eventually committed suicide in 2004. Dr. Money was to blame for using David as a pawn to further his career with unethical methods. The story of David Reimer illustrates the nature vs. nurture debate and the importance of biology and genetics in one’s identity. GID clients must now undergo psychological preparation and hormone therapy before undergoing sex reassignment surgery. The cause of GID is still debated among psychologists and psychiatrists, with some acknowledging biological factors and others blaming environmental factors.

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Reimer was originally a male, but due to a problematic circumcision, his parents chose to have him involuntarily undergo a gender reassignment with the guidance of Dr. Money, an advocate for the influence of nurture (CBS, 2004). In his youth, David, also known as “Brenda,” faced numerous challenges as a girl, including rejection by peers, isolation from society, mood swings, anger problems, and prominent confusion regarding his gender; all of which align with Gender Identity Disorder (GID).

Before undergoing a final transformation, David was informed by his parents about the truth behind his biological makeup. Subsequently, he lived his life as a man, endeavoring to establish a sense of normalcy through marriage, having children, and engaging in regular sexual activities. However, despite his efforts, David encountered numerous challenges, including struggles with depression and multiple suicide attempts. Tragically, following the loss of his twin brother, separation from his wife, and job termination, he ultimately succeeded in ending his own life in May of 2004 (CBS, 2004).

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Dr. Money is the main party to blame for David Reimer’s lifelong traumatic experience, as his unethical methods and clear agenda are undeniable. The innocent young boy’s sexual reassignment was exploited by Dr. Money to promote his theory of gender neutrality. It is evident from Dr. Money’s positive reports and David’s contradicting statements that David was merely a pawn in furthering Dr. Money’s professional success.

The story of David Reimer illustrates the unethical conduct of health professionals and serves as a notable demonstration of the ongoing nature vs nurture debate. It underscores the influence of biology and genetics in shaping an individual’s identity.

At present, individuals diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) who choose sex reassignment surgery must spend two years living as their preferred gender to mentally prepare themselves. Additionally, hormone therapy is required to address inherent biological disparities in hormone levels between males and females that necessitate adjustment.

Rebecca Kastl argues that altering someone’s appearance and transitioning them to the opposite gender, as seen in the case of the Reimers, does not result in a psychological or biological change. Nevertheless, numerous psychologists and psychiatrists recognize a biological component in Gender Identity Disorder (GID). They attribute this to imbalances in either brain or hormonal development during gestation.

However, the big debate is whether the causation is both biological and environmental or purely biological (Kastl, 2000). REFERENCES CBS News Online. (2004). David Reimer: The boy who lived as a girl. Retrieved October 17, 2012 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/reimer/ Kastl, R. (2001). Transsexualism: Nature vs. Nurture. Retrieved October 17, 2012 from http://www.tgharmony.com/articles/nature_v_nurture.html

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David Reimer: The Boy Who Lived As A Girl. (2017, Jan 06). Retrieved from


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