Tragic life of boy ‘raised as girl’ as experiment after botched circumcision

A baby boy was raised as a girl after a botched circumcision in a tragic social experiment gone wrong.

Unknown to him as a child, David Reimer was born Bruce but soon became Brenda on the suggestion of a psychologist and sexologist, who believed gender was largely based on social conditioning.

With his damaged genitalia removed to create that of a female, the twin grew up with no idea he was born the same sex as his brother and was later medicated female hormones during puberty.

By the age of 15 however, the truth was out for David who despite wearing dresses and sharing typically 'girly' interests, always felt male.

Born in 1965 in Canada, David ended his left 38 years later, The Embryo Project Encyclopedia reports.

Dr John Money jumped at the chance to test out his theories on gender with a child guinea pig in David – previously Brenda but initially, Bruce.

A procedure to remove the infant's defected foreskin ended up mutilating his penis which led his parents to reassign his gender.

Dr Money, supervised 'Brenda's' progress in what became known as the "John/Joan" case and wrote a paper declaring the gender conversion a success, reports the LA Times.

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Time magazine published an article in 1973 citing the "dramatic case" as providing "strong support for a major contention of women’s liberationists: that conventional patterns of masculine and feminine behaviour can be altered.”

But far from being the success it was billed as, Money’s experiment left Reimer psychologically scarred which ultimately cost him his life in 2004.

David was so passionate about sparing other children from forced gender conversion that he told his life story to journalist John Colapinto in the 2000 book 'As Nature Made Him'.

One of the most disturbing memories David recounted before his death was being made to reenact sex positions with his brother.

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Dr Money kept tabs on the identical twins which he considered ideal case subjects for a psychology study on gender, according to The Embryo Project.

Reimer claimed that Money forced them both to demonstrate sexual positions and motions on each other such as thrusting while acting out missionary positions.

It was research the American doctor justified as the rehearsal of healthy childhood sexual exploration.

Reimer also told Rolling Stone that at least once, Money took photos of the exercises and even made the brothers inspect one another’s pubic areas in front of sometimes just him but other times in front of six other doctors.

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Dr Money who died two years after Reimer, aged 84, would angrily hurl verbal abuse at the twins when they tried to say no to taking part in some activities.

Reimer said in later life that he suffered from severe gender dysphoria as a result of the gender reassignment as he only ever identified as a boy.

He dreaded visiting the psychologist and sexologist so much that at the age of thirteen, Reimer threatened to commit suicide if he was taken to see him again.

Still possessing male features and traits as a child left him subject to bullying at school.

When his father told him he had in fact been born a boy, Reimer instantly changed his name to David at 15 and by 21-years-old he started testosterone therapy as well as undergoing surgeries to remove his breasts and reconstruct a penis.

Though psychological damage had already taken its toll as by his early twenties, Reimer made his first couple of attempts to commit suicide.

On September 22, 1990, David tied the knot with mum-of-three Jane Fontaine but their marriage was difficult, as was staying in work.

He was not the only twin to have struggled in adult life as his brother, hit by depression and schizophrenia, died from an antidepressant drug overdose in July of 2002.

Brian's death was sadly followed almost two years later by David's who ended his life with a gun on May 4, 2004, two days after his wife told him she wanted a divorce.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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