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Gender vs. Sex? How Two Brothers Died Making Them Separate Terms (Abridged)
The Infamous Theory of Dr. John Money that Led Two Brothers to Commit Suicide
This is an abridged story about Dr. John Money’s devastating medical experiment on two twin brothers that led to their ultimate deaths. In the mid-1960s, Dr. Money hoped he could prove gender identity was different from biological sex. It ended with two suicides. This article is shortened from its original as a quick and comfortable read. To read the entire essay, please click here.
Dr. John Money, a notable psychologist, died on July 7, 2006, from complications related to Parkinson's Disease. It's possible that, because of the disease's impact on memory, he had forgotten about his controversial gender theory experiment he gave birth to.
Many wish that the world could forget it, too.
Dr. Money’s experiments on gender reassignment are infamous, laying the foundation for current beliefs on the fluidity of gender. His most notable subjects were the Reimer twins, whom he used to test his hypothesis that nurture dominates nature.
The results had devastating consequences for the Reimer family.
David Reimer (born Bruce in 1965) was the central figure in one of Dr. Money’s most notorious experiments. After a botched circumcision, Dr. Money saw an opportunity to test his theory by recommending that Bruce be raised as a girl named Brenda.
Dr. Money convinced the naive parents to go along with his scheme to experiment on the twins, although he told them he was saving the twins, not using them for Frankenstein-style research.
Bruce would be the guinea pig, and brother Brian would be the control.
Bruce underwent surgery that completely removed any remaining remnants of his penis and testicles. He was raised as Brenda by his parents. But before Bruce was turned back to the hapless parents, Dr. Money warned them: Don’t ever let Bruce know he was born a boy, or the sex change would fail.
She was given dolls to play with and wore dresses. “I tried to interest Brenda in feminine pursuits,” recalls mother Janice, “like baking cookies and playing with dolls.” But, observed Janice, “it was so obvious to everyone, not just me, that she was so masculine.”
“I had Barbie dolls,” recalls Bruce. “My brother was generous and would let me play with his toys, and he knew how happy that made me.”
Despite outward attempts to socialize Brenda as female, he consistently exhibited male tendencies.
As the twins grew older, Dr. Money’s approach became increasingly intrusive and abusive, involving explicit demonstrations and forced enactments of sexual scenarios.
The truth about their birth identities was revealed to the twins in their teenage years.
Bruce, who later renamed himself David, underwent reconstructive surgery and tried to lead a normal life. However, both twins faced considerable emotional turmoil, culminating in their tragic suicides.
Despite the tragic outcomes and the twins’ public condemnation of Dr. Money, the psychological community continued to recognize him as a leader in gender theory.
Dr. Richard Green, a close associate of Dr. Money, described him as a libertine, emphasizing his unconventional personal life and erotic tastes.
“John was a libertine,” Dr. Green said. “He was an enthusiast of group sex. (Our) meetings were highlighted by evening orgies organized by John and attended by some of sexology’s luminaries. He was a gifted participant.”
As the father of the gender-theory movement, Dr. Money wrote: “Gender refers to all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively.”
So there you have it—the beginning of the divergence between the two formerly linked words “sex” and “gender.” Dr. Money is the granddaddy, so to speak, of the gender obsession that we’re living through right now.
If you ask almost any senior citizen the difference between sex and gender, they’ll tell you there’s no difference.
But if you ask a young person the same question, they’ll tell you immediately that gender is how you identify, sex is biological—although many deny that there is such a thing as biological sex anymore, another perversion to be laid at the doorstep of Dr. Money.
The mad scientist also promoted pedophilia, writing, “If I were to see the case of a boy aged 10 or 12 who’s intensely attracted toward a man in his 20s or 30s,” wrote Dr. Money, “if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual, then I would not call it pathological in any way.”
“I thought he was perverted,” said Bruce years later. “I thought he was a sick man. My parents didn’t know a lot that was going on. If they’d have known, it would never have happened.”
At one point, Dr. Money tried to convince Brenda to have surgery to alter her rudimentary vulva to appear more normal and suggest the construction of a vagina, but Brenda resisted. “We can make it look like it’s supposed to look,” Dr. Money told her.
What happened next was a descent into madness, even for Dr. Money, and a tragedy for the boys. Money made the twins strip naked, took photos of them, and forced them to examine each other’s genitals.
Brenda grew up troubled and lonely, with almost no friends.
The boys didn’t like her, and neither did the girls, her mother recalls; she didn’t fit in anywhere. “Compared with most families, mine is a loser,” Brenda wrote in a middle school essay. “My feeling about my life is that it’s rotten. To me, the future looks bad.”
Finally, confronted by a suicidal 13-year-old son they had raised as a girl, the parents told both the boys the truth. “My dad took me out for an ice cream cone,” recalls Bruce. “Usually that means it’s bad news. I don’t remember 90 percent of what he told me … (afterward) I thought to myself, I’m not crazy, I’m not turning insane.”
His mother told his brother Brian the same day. He reacted violently, with extreme anger. But for Bruce, it was the first time he felt happy. He renamed himself David. Eventually, he decided to undergo painful reconstructive surgery to have a penis created.
After the twins learned about Dr. Money’s deception, they were “appalled, disgusted and angry,” said David. They decided to go public about their ordeal at the hands of Dr. Money, accusing him of taking numerous nude photos of them during their “treatment” sessions and forcing them to engage in sexual play at age seven.
Brian, who had been struggling emotionally for years, ever since learning that his sister Brenda was actually his twin brother, descended into schizophrenia. He committed suicide at the age of 36 with an overdose of antidepressants.
Two years later, depressed after his wife told him she wanted a separation, David shot himself in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. The date was May 4, 2004. Just two years after that tragedy, Dr. Money would be dead himself.
Before his suicide, David Reimer would state prophetically: “People might say the Dave Reimer case could’ve been successful. I’m living proof (that it wasn’t), because I’ve lived through it. Who else are you going to listen to? Is it going to take someone shooting themselves in the head for people to listen?”
When Dr. Money passed away, many mainstream news outlets praised him for pioneering studies on sexual identity. However, they often omitted his controversial statements and beliefs, particularly his separation of “sex” and “gender” and his controversial views on pedophilia.
It is important to note that many experts in the field of psychology and gender studies have widely criticized Dr. Money’s theories. The Reimer twins’ tragic story has also been cited as an example of the dangers of unethical experimentation.
Read the entire essay.
Martin Mawyer is president of the Christian Action Network, which he founded in 1990. Located in Lynchburg, VA, CAN was formed as a non-profit educational organization to protect America’s religious and moral heritage. He is the author of several books, including You Are Chosen: Prepare to Triumph in a Fallen World.