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As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl Paperback – August 8, 2006
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In 1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender. The case would become one of the most famous in modern medicineâand a total failure. As Nature Made Him tells the extraordinary story of David Reimer, who, when finally informed of his medical history, made the decision to live as a male. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man'sâand one family'sâamazing survival in the face of terrible odds.
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The chapters progress quickly and the book is filled with human drama and personalities. It is a quick read, helped by Colapinto's lucid prose and flowing journalistic writing style. It conveys warmth, depth, and intelligence and is a joy to read. Born as boy twins, Bruce suffered a circumcision accident that destroyed his penis. Following the advice of Money, his parents decided to raise him as Brenda, until age 14, when she made the decision to become a boy again. Taking the name David, a nod to the Biblical king who face seemingly insurmountable odds), he re-assumed the gender he always knew he was.
Chief among the good guys is Milton Diamond, the harried and tireless rival of Dr. Money who toiled for years in obscurity and pariahdom because of his opposition to the prominent nurturist theory of the time; and Dr. Mary McKenty, who helped Brenda/David towards healing.
Colapinto offers a rare and in-depth look into the lives of one family affected by his doctrinal obstinance. In the hands of a less skilled author, this sensitive and intensely painful experience may have not been handled as well. You will hate Dr Money as you read about his lack of medical scruples, self-serving deception, and unending arrogance. For 4 decades, he was the chief proponent and champion of the theory that gender identity was malleable and could be changed after birth. Boys with genital anomalies could be reassigned as girls, he insisted, and willfully deceived the scientific community for decades by reporting that the gender reassignment experiment was an unmitigated success.
Thankfully medical science has now swung in the favor of the naturist argument-- gender happens in the womb (hormonally determined by the presence or absence of testosterone in utero)-- and radical gender reassignment surgeries like those David suffered are now no longer being advocated.
Highly recommended for readers interest in true-life stories or topics of medical history and sociology/psychology or gender issues.
After finishing this book, I looked up David Reimer and was very saddened to find out that he had committed suicide awhile after this book was published. Also, his twin brother Brian had killed himself 2 years prior to his death. I think John Colapinto wrote a very honest account of what the Reimer twins endured throughout their lives. David's story will hopefully provide genuine incite to many people discovering their own gender identity or who have had similar experiences.
I love when accepted theories are proved fallible, especially when smug, highly biased scientists and scholars are behind the tenets.
This is fantastic journalistic prose, unwavering in its ethical approach to such a controversial matter. I am forever changed by this book.