Being Brenda tells the gruesome story of two twins:
The tragedy has its roots in what seemed like a routine trip to hospital in 1966 for Janet and Ron Reimer and their twin baby boys, Bruce and Brian. Doctors had recommended circumcision, a practice still routine in much of north America, but Bruce’s operation went distressingly wrong. Like almost every detail of the story, what actually happened is still fiercely disputed but what is clear is that the electric cauterising machine being used by doctors caused burning to his penis so severe as to render the organ unrescuable.
And then a “progressive” theorist “solved” the problem:
Reconstructive genital surgery was still rudimentary, and medical experts could offer only pessimism. So when the despairing parents happened to catch a television show, some months later, on which John Money was propounding his radical new theories about gender formation, it seemed to offer a lifeline. “He was saying that it could be that babies are born neutral, and you could change their gender,” Janet Reimer later told John Colapinto, author of a book on the experiment entitled As Nature Made Him.
Both brother and “sister” ended up killing themselves. And the progressive professor?
John Money remains an emeritus professor at Johns Hopkins. “He’s not commenting on this story,” his assistant told the Guardian yesterday. “There is no comment to make.”