Janet Reimer was as happy as any mother could be when her twin sons were born.
But a few weeks later, she noticed the babies were having trouble urinating. Her doctor suggested circumcision.
What was to be a routine procedure turned into a horrible nightmare when baby Bruce’s penis was burned. The Reimers took their babies home, not knowing what to do next, until they saw a prominent doctor on television talk about a unique theory – that sexuality could be defined after birth.
Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins University had been working with patients born with ambiguous or “micro” genitalia. He also worked with parents whose babies were born with malformed sex organs because of improper testosterone levels in the womb. Money’s theory held that with surgery, behavioral conditioning and hormones, a baby’s sex could be redefined. The Reimers suddenly found hope for their son Bruce.
Money never told the parents that Bruce, who was nearly 2 when he underwent full castration surgery, was his first patient who had been born with fully developed sex organs. Instead, the doctor saw Bruce, who became Brenda after the surgery, as living proof of his theories.
But that’s not the way it turned out for Brenda, now known as David.
“I was never happy as Brenda,” he told the PBS “Nova” series in a segment called “Sex: Unknown.” “Never. I’d slit my throat before I’d go back to that.”
David had reconstructive surgery, married and lives with his wife and her three children. He says the measure of a man is not the size of his penis: “From what I’ve been taught by my father, what makes you a man is you treat your wife well, you put a roof over your family’s head, you’re a good father … [more] than just bang-bang-bang – sex. I guess John Money would consider my children’s biological fathers to be real men. But they didn’t stick around to take care of the children. I did. That to me is a man.”
Was the horror of the Money experimentation some aberration of the 1960s and 1970s? Not exactly.
According to “Nova,” even today – and even despite the failures of the past – Money’s theories still influence the treatment of children born with ambiguous genitalia. Some boys born with very small or unformed penises are still surgically changed into girls in major hospitals in the United States in 2001.
A new chorus of critics is arising, however.
“With no sound scientific basis to continue such barbarism, the ancient religious beliefs motivating Islamic and animistic clitoridectomy differ in quantity, not quality, from the current practice of genital mutilation of boy and girl babies on America’s sterile operating tables,” says Judith Reisman, president of the Institute for Media Education in Crestwood, Ky., and the author of “Kinsey, Crimes & Consequences.”
Neither has Money repented, says Reisman – and there’s much more about his background left untold by “Nova.”
Although he was removed to academic quarters off the Johns Hopkins campus, his National Institutes of Health grant begun in the 1950s is still on-going and renewed to the tune of $135,956 as of last year.
In August of last year, Money coauthored a published article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinological Metabolism on “Complete androgen insensitivity syndrome: Long-term medical, surgical and psychosexual outcome.” In 2000, he wrote on “gender assignment” for the Journal of Urology, entitling his article “New phylism theory and the homosexualization of the visualization of lust.” Medical Hypotheses published Money in September 1999.
Reisman points out that being published in such clinical journals is considered a notable achievement in itself and suggests Money’s work is still influencing peers.
Further, the New Zealand Edge reported earlier this year that Money is “the world’s leading successor to Freud, Kinsey and Masters and Johnson. … His work has formed a basis for decades of work by American pediatricians. … He was a cornerstone of 1970s feminism and gay rights liberation, and he is still championed as a hero by liberal movements. He has been on the leading edge of sex research for decades … chang[ing] the face of sex research, blazing new pathways for future scientists and sexologists.”
“Although under increased examination, Money’s protocols for the treatment of inter-sexual children hold to this day,” the publication said. “Current guidelines dictate that to be assigned a boy, the child must have a penis longer than 2.5 centimeters; a girl’s clitoris is surgically reduced if it exceeds 1 centimeter. Money had, in a single stroke, offered physicians a relatively simple solution to … how to deal with the (surprisingly common) birth of an inter-sexual child.”
During the 1981 5th World Congress of Sexology in Jerusalem, says Reisman, Money (who was a Kinsey Institute adviser and “mentor” for former Kinsey Institute director June Reinisch) said sex research should “begin in prenatal life.” He is a significant activist, she says, in the homosexual, pedophile, sex education, sexology communities.
Says the New Zealand Edge: Money hated Judeo-Christian “repressive religious structures … the anti-masturbatory, anti-sexual fervor. … The academic study of sexuality [begun by Kinsey], which removed even the most outlandish practices from moral consideration and placed them in the ‘pure’ realm of scientific enquiry, was for Money an emancipation.”
Reisman says Money’s work was not based on science at all, but on his own unusual personal biases.
“No one is saying that it is not tragic to have children born with mixed genitals,” she says. “However, their sex – as Money knew early on based on his own research – will be adjudicated by young adulthood. No parent or child is capable of such decisions – when we know that one’s gender reflects the subtle structure of one’s brain, unseen by the human eye or spectrograms.”
Reisman adds that no one is asking why this problem is occurring.
“If we had one in 1,000 children born missing an eye, we would begin to investigate why so many children are being born thus,” she says. “I am not aware of any intensive study of the increase or decrease in these cases, while I do know that some expectant moms got estrogen and others testosterone both with and without their knowledge.”
Further, the standards used for such surgical decisions are still questionable, she says.
“The motivations for cut-’n’-paste, baby sex-changes by Money and his gang were varied,” she says. “True, some babies were born with dual or confusing genitalia, but many genitalia were just deemed too small, labeled ‘micropenis’ and set for mutilation.”
“Nova” interviewed pediatric surgeon Philip Ransley at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. He argued that size is a very important reason that he and others still neuter baby boys.
Speaking of a male neonate he just “reassigned” as a female, Ransley opined: “This child would have gone through childhood with an extremely tiny phallus and would have had a very small phallus in adult life.”
Money’s guidelines still result in surgical procedures of this kind on “hundreds of infants each year,” according to “Nova.”
“This ‘normalizing’ surgery as it is called, has become such a standard practice that until recently, most physicians considered it beyond debate. … Money’s influence in the (gender assignment) field for probably 30 years was almost monolithic.”
Reisman, says Money – like his master Kinsey – lied about his data. In “As Nature Made Him,” John Colapinto revealed Money’s own studies on “micropenises” found without surgery such boys did well psychologically and physically.
Why, then, does the campaign for these procedures continue?
“Until Alfred Kinsey ignited a firestorm in 1948, claiming his science proved human beings are bisexual, God assigned one’s gender as male or female,” explains Reisman. “To ‘create’ gender is to be completely liberated from biology, another fundamental Kinseyan theme.”
Reisman says Money’s unconventional ideas about law, morality and biology were illustrated in his interview with the Journal of Paedophilia. Money boldly stated “a boy aged 10 or 11″ could have “affectional” sex with men, adding that the goal of his Johns Hopkins sex clinic was to give “leeway to judges” to liberate convicted pedophiles.
“Money further argued that men who make a ‘sadomasochistic death pact’ with ‘consenting’ boys are not criminals should the boys die, for the children consented,” she says. “Such is the deranged judgment of modern medicine’s inter-sex operations’ founder.”