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In the United States
John Money, (1921- 2006), and, later, Milton Diamond, (1934-) had opposing views regarding the question of nature vs. nurture to the field of gender identity. Diamond, an academic sexologist, believed gender was inborn. Money believed gender identity was learned and used the case of the Reimer twins to advance this theory, in the process becoming one of the most prominent sexologists in the world. David (1965-2004) and Brian (1965-) Reimer were identical twins. After David’s penis was destroyed during a botched surgery to remove unretractable foreskin at 8 months of age, his parents consulted Money, who advised them to surgically castrate their child and raise him as a girl. Money insisted on a strict program of feminine acculturation, which included complete secrecy about David’s assigned gender at birth and rigid attention to gender roles. For years, Money described the twins experiment in the medical literature as an unequivocal success, thus influencing popular and feminist thought about the etiology of gender and guiding the treatment of intersex children for years. But all was not well with David Reimer, who became increasing dysfunctional. At age 14, after voicing to his psychiatrist that he didn’t feel like a girl, he was told his story. He socially transitioned back to his natal gender of male, finding some comfort in this, though although he still struggled with dark moods and explosive anger. In 1997, Diamond found David and interviewed him. David allowed Diamond to publish the true outcome of his case. Money’s theory that gender was learned was debunked in a flurry of controversy about his honesty, ethics, and research methods.
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