As Nature Made Him

As Nature Made Him

The Boy Who Was Raised as A Girl

Book - 2000
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In 1967, after a baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment. On the advice of a renowned expert in gender identity and sexual reassignment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the boy was surgically altered to live as a girl. This landmark case, initially reported to be a complete success, seemed all the more remarkable since the child had been born an identical twin: his uninjured brother, raised as a boy, provided to the experiment the perfect matched control.

The so-called twins case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine and the social sciences; cited repeatedly over the past thirty years as living proof that our sense of being male or female is not inborn but primarily the result of how we are raised. A touchstone for the feminist movement, the case also set the precedent for sex reassignment as standard treatment for thousands of newborns with similarly injured, or irregular, genitals.

But the case was a failure from the outset. From the start the famous twin had, in fact, struggled against his imposed girlhood. Since age fourteen, when finally informed of his medical history, he made the decision to live as a male. John Colapinto tells this extraordinary story for the first time in As Nature Made Him. Writing with uncommon intelligence, insight, and compassion, he also sets the historical and medical context for the case, exposing the thirty-year-long scientific feud between Dr. John Money and his fellow sex researcher, Dr. Milton Diamond--a rivalry over the nature/nurture debate whose very bitterness finally brought the truth to light. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, As Nature Made Him is first and foremost a human drama of one man's-and one family's--amazing survival in the face of terrible odds. The human intimacy of the story is all the greater for the subject's courageous decision to step out from behind the pseudonym that has shrouded his identity for the past thirty years.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2000.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060192112
Characteristics: xvii, 279 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.


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Aug 07, 2013

Fascinated, disturbing, and utterly engrossing, this nonfiction account of a sex-reassignment surgery on a child in the late 60's and the ensuing phenomenon was gripping in every sense of the word. As someone not familiar with the concept of sex-reassignment surgeries for intersex or severely injured children, I found it both educational and disturbing. Colapinto does an excellent job painting a fair picture of both sides of the scientific argument that used and emerged from this case, and the gross hubris that drove it into popularity. If you want to learn anything about gender identity, gender psychology, or the role of nature vs. environment in gender identity and sexual preference, I highly HIGHLY recommend this book. Also, if you are fascinated by psychology.

Jun 07, 2013

David has not committed suicide, nor have his father or brother. Both David and his brother did make suicide attempts, and the heavy drinking his father did for a time can be viewed as a slow suicide. All three, and the mother, are now doing much better. / This was, indeed, a horrific story of the wrongs we can do with the best of intentions. It is also a demonstration that when intentions are truly good, evidence that the results don't match the intention will cause us to change what we're doing. The original intentions of the doctor who advised raising the boy as a girl (after his penis was completely destroyed in a botched electro-cauterization circumcision) seem to have been all about his own ego. He continues to insist that all sexual identity is the result of experience, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. The parents, who followed his advice, truly did want what was best for their child - because they did finally stop trying to make the effort work, told the child the truth, and helped him live as the boy he was born to be. / One irony of the story is that while Dr. Money advocates for sex-change surgery on the grounds that sexual identity is fully malleable, the demonstrated fact that sexual identity is biologically programmed into the brain before birth DOES testify to the validity of sex-change surgery. If a child is born identifying as a boy, with the physical characteristics of a girl. HE is a BOY, and surgery to achieve body-mind congruence is fully justified. Whereas, if any child can be raised as any sex, any incongruence of body and mind should be addressed by psychological therapy to bring the mind into alignment with the body. Therefore: If you truly believe that "you are the sex you are born to" you will support sex-change surgery to bring the body into alignment with the sex the child was born identifying with.

johnnyg7 Feb 15, 2013

Thee most horrific story on planet earth. There's no equal. If memory serves, his brother, his father and he himself commit suicide. There are no words. I just sit here shaking my head. This is insanity defined.

teacupfaerie Aug 20, 2010

Why? Why did no one stop to think that this was a really bad idea to raise a biomale as a female?????


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