July 10, 2021

Remembering Money

I was just googling (I still giggle every time I use that word as a verb) "sex in the news" when up popped the headline, NZ Sex Researcher John Money dies. I googled it some more, trying to find out details about his death and this is the only place I find an obituary.

But now, hours later, I realize he died a few days ago. Better late than pregnant. At least that's how we - meaning me and my boyfriend - feel these days. Who could afford a third family member? Maybe two people with full time jobs, but we are not those people. Sometimes I wonder if in this relationship, we will ever be those people. And then I wonder if I even want children. I think I do.

One.

Just one.

And I'd prefer it be a boy. Strongly prefer it be that way, in fact. That might be bad karma to say, and that might mean Iíd have a girl, but if that's the case, Iíll figure out what to do about her when it happens. Still, I think Iíd have a boy. Itís just a gut feeling. But none of this matters right now. There are no babies planned for the future, just taking care of one cat, and the cat is only ours through December. That's when we have to give him back to his other parents.

Anyway, John Money. The case that made him infamous was the story of John/Joan. It's a pretty messed up situation, and both John and Joan are dead now. Yes, I give the ending away at the beginning. John and Joan were twins, actually they were twins born with the names Bruce and Brian Reimer. Bruce eventually became Brenda, and then David, but that's what you get if you skip the whole story. Basically John Money tried to prove that gender was something determined by nurture and not nature. He tried to prove that gender was more of a cultural thing than it was genetic thing, and that a boy could be raised a girl, especially a boy whose penis was burned off in a botched circumcision, as long as the decision was made prior to 24 months. John Money was wrong. Bruce/Brenda/David knew it, long before he even knew what the fuck was going on with his body, and one day the world of psychology learned the truth thanks to Dr. Milton Diamond, a biologist at the University of Hawaii. He discovered the truth about John/Joan, and told the world something that Money had been denying for years. Money had even written books based on the success of John/Joan. And yet, Brenda never felt like Brenda. She had always felt like Bruce, and eventually David. And nurture couldn't change what nature had determined.

It gets a bit sadder. Brian Reimer eventually killed himself, after the story went public. It was first published in Rolling Stone Magazine, and then made into a book by the same author, John Colapinto. Brian apparently overdosed on his schizophrenia medication. Two years later his twin brother, David (formerly Brenda and before that Bruce), followed suit. He killed himself. He committed suicide two years after his brother did. Separated from his wife, he was apparently still mourning his brotherís death.

And now John Money is gone. It's the end of a tragic story. Only thing is, I feel it could happen again. Maybe not in the same way, since now reconstructive surgery is better. But there are plenty of intersexed babies whose genders are determined by doctors who don't like the look of what they see.

This needs to stop. John Money is dead. He might have made some great contributions to the field of sexology, but what people remember are the mistakes. And this was a big one. History tends to repeat itself. Iím sure it already has. Sorry for the morbid thought.

Posted by jamye at July 10, 2021 07:51 PM