David Reimer was originally born Bruce Reimer, with his twin brother Brian in 1965. When they were six months old, the boys were diagnosed with a condition known as phimosis, which affected the way they urinated.
The parents were told that their boys needed to be circumcised when they were 7 months old. The urologist who performed the operation ended up botching it up and this caused David’s penis to be burned beyond repair. The doctors then decided not to perform the same surgery on Brian, whose phimosis later cleared on its own.
David Reimer lost his penis in a botched circumcision operation when he was 8 months old.
His parents were advised by a Psychologist, John Money, to raise Reimer as a girl and for him to undergo further surgery and hormone treatment to assist his gender reassignment.
Throughout his childhood, Reimer and his twin brother became subjects to Money’s research. During the visits, the twins were directed to inspect each others genitals and engage in behaviours resembling intercourse. Reimer stated that the Psychologist observed the exercises both alone and with as many as six colleagues.
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Reimer claimed that despite receiving female hormones, wearing dresses and having his interests directed towards femininity, he always felt that he was a boy. At the age of 15, Reimer’s father told him the truth. By age 21, Reimer had received surgery to remove his breasts and reconstruct his penis again.
In adulthood, Reimer reported that he suffered psychological trauma due to the experiments and abuse.
His twin brother who suffered Depression and Schizophrenia died from a drug overdose in 2002. In 2004, Reimer’s wife told him that she wanted a divorce and two days later, at the age of 38, David committed suicide.
This tragic story should teach us all a lesson about authoritative figures.
Professionals can get it wrong.
No matter how much authority they hold, if you’re in doubt about the medical advice you’re receiving, stand up for yourself. Do not be afraid to challenge the doctor’s competence.
credit: Alisha Talks