Bruce-Brenda-David's dream: Dr Money was a magician with a cape and he said he could make us disappear---pouf!---like that. I woke up and thought we had disappeared.

Remember the study of intersex from the 1930s, before the snip-and-tuck craze that started in the 1950s with ‘scientific advances’ (plastic surgery) and continues today? Showing that most intersex seem to cope just fine with their disfigured gonads? Of course not, as it was buried. Boooring. Much more fun (profitable) to con desperate parents into buying a nice model from your array of high tech doodads: phalloplasty, estrogen, estrogen, estrogen. Did I mention estrogen?

The problem is mainly with ‘boys’, XY genetically. Girls XX are nature's default. It's hard to go wrong. Nature was careful to guarantee that little girls would be, well, little girls. No one knows precisely how many people have XY genetic problems (maybe 1:20,000) as they are only discovered when nature's mistakes are egregious, but all major cities have at least one or two per year. I have written about this fascinating topic elsewhere. Here I'm trying to figure out how the quackery -- if in doubt, chop ‘it’ (penis, clitoris*) off; if penis, castrate, so no messy gonads left to fester (they don’t) -- became the rage in the 1950s.

Villain and gay icon Dr Money                                                                      George-Christine Jorgensen

Dr Money, our chief villain here, actually wrote a Harvard doctoral dissertation referring to the 1930s study in 1951, though he apparently forgot, or drew the wrong conclusion. He couldn’t resist the snip-and-tuck method, cutting through the Gordian XY knot, and making lots of … money in the process. It was no coincidence that Christine Jorgensen, the first celebrity transsexual, splashed in the media in 1952, making the impossible suddenly possible. 'She' made a career out of it, earning millions for just being a Guinness Record. Well, two can play that game, mused Money.

So how did we get saddled with Mengele-style experimenting on helpless children? What else was happening then that might give us a clue?

Of course, nurture vs nature, with nurture in the ascendant in the 1950s, when behaviorism was the rage. Just follow Benjamin Spock’s manual and your child will be happy and healthy. You can make your children successes by lots of nurture. Extrapolation: you can train your little boy to be a little girl. Forget the genetics. But this was not happening in a vacuum.

Did I hear the word McCarthyism? What’s that got to do with sex? Wasn’t that to get rid of communists? But what are communists, except people who don’t fit in to our lovely materialistic society, where you apparently could/can buy happiness? If a child is defective, why not cut him/her up and add/ subtract to get the right result? Defective children are a bit like those communists. They don’t fit in to our idea of life. Science can solve everything.

Our heroes  Milton Diamond                          John Colapinto

Nature trumps nurture

It was clear to University of Kansas researcher Milton Diamond by the mid 1960s that sex reassignment of a developmentally normal infant is impossible. Referring to the case of our victim Bruce-Brenda-David, with puberty, the 'penectomized' twin has a good likelihood of rebelling at the assignment of the rearing which is in conflict with biological heritage. That quote is from his 1979 interview with BBC Frontiers of Sex Research.

He had discovered this thanks to detente (the real antidote to McCarthyism), which the world enjoyed from 1956 to 1979. Soviet sex research Vera Dantchakova bathed developing guinea pig fetus brains and nervous systems with androgen (cousin of testosterone), and saw that hypersexed females mounted other females, would not present themselves to normal males. This proved the psychological/ behavioral effects of androgen, not just physical effects.

Behavior, like body type, is hard-wired, not fluid later. Bruce-Brenda-David was repulsed by idea of sex with guy, insisted from the get-go that she was a boy. Lia Thomas will win all the girl's golds at the Olympics. (Now THAT's boring.)

But Money and nurture were where the money was in the heady 60s. Money convinced nice Mennonite Winnipegers Ron and Janet Reimer to transform their little Bruce into a little Brenda, to take a botched circumcision and do Jorgensen one better.

Almost forgot Kinsey, that other superstar of the 50s, who should be anti-McCarthy, i.e., liberal to a fault, but who is in fact a McCarthyite poster child. State repression? Didn't notice. Data, science, data (with his own gay/str8 philandering with willing interviewees during recess). Smooth out the wrinkles in America’s sex life and on with America’s fight for freedom etc.

Money was a big fan. He and Kinsey are both icons of gay liberation, which also should be anti-McCarthy, as gays were hounded in 1950s America. Indeed, McCarthy is now seen as the disease, and ‘gaylib’ the antidote. Already lost is the fact that it is communism that is the antidote to the diseased late capitalism that gave rise to McCarthyism, not snip-and-tuck or gaylib.


The Gordian knot-cutter in all this is John Colapinto, author of As Nature made him: The boy who was raised as a girl (2000). He managed to track down Money’s supposed success story of the now legendary twins from Winnipeg, one of whom was Bruce-soon-to-be-Brenda.

Money was hot news then and when the twins were born in 1965, Bruce’s mother decided to rush to Baltimore for the miracle worker Money to save her boy. At 18 months, Bruce had no say in the matter, and from the get-go, Bruce-Brenda, the elder twin, was more aggressive and stronger than ‘her’ brother Brian.

Brian      Bruce-Brenda                            Bruce-Brenda-David      Brian

Growing up was hell, both twins suffered ostracism, but Brenda had the worst of it. ‘I don’t want to wear dresses. Girls are just to have babies. I want a gun, a truck. I like fighting.’ Bruce-Brenda was only happy at a technical school, fixing appliances (the first girl to ever take the class). But after a toughie drew a knife at Bruce-Brenda in class one day, s/he refused to go back, and was given a private tutor, thanks to the $66,000 awarded Bruce-Brenda for the botched operation. (A recent such botching got the victim a cool $22.8m in the US.) 

B-B wasn't the only one suffering the scalpel. After Jorgensen in 1952, Johns Hopkins with its Gender Identity Clinic, founded 1966, eventually became a specialist in castration, with Money the star attraction. Diamond was appalled. The best treatment in all cases was ... to do NOTHING. Leave nature alone till puberty. Only then would the potential victim's real orientation sexually be clear.

The medical establishment was resistant to criticizing its wunderkind experimenters. It was much more fun and profitable to snip-and-tuck experiment on live guinea boys, then write ‘scholarly’ papers. Diamond was ignored/ vilified but just kept on doing good science, waiting for the world to catch up, to realize the fraud. He had to wait a long time (he's still waiting).*** 

Diamond heard about Money's 1967 'success' but was skeptical, and bided his time. Would Bruce-Brenda disprove hard science, end Diamond's career? By 1979, he started pestering (politely) Money. B-B would be 13, puberty. What had happened to the twin experiment? His science predicted that at puberty, the little girl will want to be a little boy.

Money refused to divulge. Hmm. no comment is always fishy. In fact, B-B was refusing to go the full Monty and install a vagina, refusing to go back to Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, to submit to Mengele, sorry, Money's scalpel.

When Diamond finally met B-B-David in 1994, he told David: There are people who are going through what you’re going through every day and we’re trying to stop that. B-B-David was staggered. I figured I was the only one, and here Diamond tells me they're doing all these surgeries based on me. Diamond was finally able to publish his critique, including B-B-David in 1997, more than 30 years after he knew that Money was a snake oil salesman, butchering little boys. His mantra: To rear the child in a consistent gender---but keep away the knife.

More Money

Money was one of the coiners of gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation, and popularized the term paraphilia. Debunked finally in the 1980s, he was demoted from superstar at John Hopkins to the lowest level possible without giving him the grounds for an embarrassing public legal battle. The Gender Identity Clinic was shut down in 1979 after concluding sex reassignment surgery confers no objective advantage in terms of social rehabilitation. Money's department of psychobabble (Psychohormonal Research Unit) survived in the basement of a shabby medical arts building 4 blocks from the hospital and university. 

Money continued to proselytize his transgender quackery until his death at a ripe old 85 in 2006, outliving Bruce-Brenda-David by two years, and is honored by gaylib as one of theirs. His devotion to castrating baby boys, and coaxing them to have vaginas installed as they near puberty, was buoyed by the militant transgender movement, still lost in the shoals of neo-McCarthyism that seems to be peaking now with WWIII more or less declared against Russia. We need that jingoism as we descend deeper into the moral swamp of late imperialism.

Money was quite a guy. He claimed to have married briefly in the early 1950s but had no children and never remarried. His interests, besides gender roles (Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation), are best described as prurient -- several books, including Lovemaps, in what he coined paraphilia (coprophilia**, golden showers, s&m, amputation fetishes, autostrangulation). Pedophilia became a particular interest, which Money publicly espoused. He told TimeA childhood sexual experience such as being the partner of a relative or of an older person, need not necessarily affect the child adversely. ... Incest should not be prosecuted as a criminal offense; in cases where stepfathers sleep with their stepdaughters, the mother is often happy because she is glad to have her husband off her back.'

In Venuses penuses**** he dubbed himself a missionary of sex, emancipated from the 20th century legacy of fundamentalism and Victorianism in rural New Zealand. Money generalized his theory of psychosexual neutrality at birth, extrapolating from hermaphrodites to include all children. Then used one ‘success’ (in fact, a disaster) to prove his theory, trying desperately to hush it up when the truth outed, explain it away as due to faulty parenting. His office and home were flamboyantly decorated with African masks, sexual artifacts, oriental carpets, a profusion of potted plants. Very gay, though, in McCarthyite style, in the closet, as he presides over wholesale castration of little boys. Very creepy.

Tracing the path that poor B-B-David and family were forced to take (by the medical establishment, which of course knows best), we see that the whole mess, which started with a botched operation, was just made worse and worse at each stage of the treatment. Two, three, how ever many wrongs do not make a right.

Money had an idea and he was determined to show it was true, come hell or high water. His research was fraudulent and he died apparently with no remorse, having hoodwinked and destroyed hundreds of lives with needless surgery, not to mention his lethal bedside manners. His therapy included making Brian humping his brother Brenda on all fours and lie on top of Brenda to simulate sex. He liked to use scatology (fuck, cunt, shit) in normal conversation (to desensitize the listener), to show porn to children (not just Brenda) and ask them what they liked in it. Brenda complained to his parents but ‘doctor knows best’. Money even wanted their  parents to have sex in front of them, or at least wander the house nude, go to a nude beach ...

Finally B-B-D got a grandmotherly, non-Freudian psychiatrist, Mary McKenty, who actually cured kids of neurotic behaviors bed-wetting, hair-pulling by coming down to child’s level, playing games, drawing, painting, writing. Revealing themselves through word and deed. She helped him find the courage to tell everyone to just leave him alone, yes, him.

And was being discredited enough for Money? Nope. It was the parents’ fault. Money, a confirmed atheist, when confronted with the failure of his twin experiment, dismissed the Reimer parents as religious fanatics. (They were gentle souls, Mennonite, not even regular church-goers).

After years of depression, painful breast surgery, B-B-David was able to reconstruct his penis (modern science!) and marry in his 30s to a women with 3 kids and no hope of attracting a husband. They were initially happy, but sex with a pump must really be a drag. B-B-David would have only a few years of very qualified happiness.

B-B-David's twin Brian was the first to crack after a lifetime of stress. The fragile, magical intimacy of identical twins had been shattered by Brenda, who had had all the attention all their lives, even after Brenda became David. When Colapinto’s book came out, paparazzi flocked, and Brian committed suicide in 2002. B-B-David's wife Jane bailed out of the circus, and David's only choice was to join his twin. David was destroyed by Goliath. No 'heppi end'.

In the 1990s, David had taken a shotgun to the doctor who botched his operation at St Boniface hospital originally, by then a sad pathetic man, clearly remorseful. He cried seeing David, David cried too and threw the gun away. Money outlived them, dying in 2005, his conscience clear.

One final clue to Mengele-Money

Money-Goliath, who grew up in Edenic New Zealand, wrote about how his father was cruel, shot birds that ate his fruit, pushing Money to reject the brutality of manhood. I suffered from the guilt of being male. I wore the mark of man’s vile sexuality [penis and testicles]. I wondered if the world might really be a better place for women if not only farm animals but humans males also were gelded at birth.

So THAT explains Dr Goliath’s love of castrating any males he could lay his hands on. Actually, he was not an MD, so he had his John Hopkins colleagues do the dirty work for him.

What did he care if he destroyed the Reimer's home life, turning the father into an alcoholic, the mother into a depressed wreck living on anti-depressants. B-B-D's dream of the magician-doctor making them disappear came true in a hellish way. Dr Money stole their lives, just as Mephistopheles did to Faust, but without all the earthly fun. He made both twins disappear, pushing them to suicide in the prime of life. 

What astounds me through all this, is that this was going on with the active support of B-B-David’s parents, and today 6-yr-olds are being taught they can be any sex they feel like. Incest is ok as it gives the mother a rest! Porn is liberating.

Where is that idyllic childhood of exploring, carefree living (No sex please! We’re children.) with a mother and father? Instead, the new norm is single mom, or divorced parents fighting over visiting rights or just disappearing to avoid alimony, and transvestites in public libraries on Saturday mornings for children’s story time.

Who is there to protect children from adults? Children aren’t adults, they don’t need, have or want sex, but they are being used as experimental fodder for some new world order where everything goes, nothing is sacred.

What is clear to me after pondering this tragedy and the current PC madness of gender pronouns, ‘transgender’ while keeping your gonads, LGBTQIIAA etc, is that yes, there are outliers, outsiders, people that don’t fit. There’s a nice Kinsey-friendly word, though Kinsey stuck to the ‘scientific’ homosexual. Just call all these guys and gals gay. And those with faulty sex genetics, intersex. That’s cutting the Gordian knot without any blood or gonads. And if you like to dress up like the opposite sex, that’s fine. Instead of yet another law to help this or that minority, just use common courtesy to govern your relations with everyone.

Nurture trumps nature

Feminism and gaylib say conventional patterns of male and female behavior can be altered. Is that any different than conversion therapy to try to correct homosexual behavior? Genes really do 'make the man'. And all those stereotypes about boys-play-with-trucks-and guns and girls-dress-up-dolls-and-love-make-up are mostly true.

But wait! Why the sudden sharp increase in recent years in 'transgender', people whose Xs and Ys are fine but mysterious find they're in the wrong body? Until the 1960s, it was enough for kinky guys to cross dress, if talented to perform on stage as drag queens. Lesbians are often butch. But suddenly, 'gay' isn't enough, or even queer. Leslie Feinberg's pamphlet, Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time has Come, circulated in 1992, claiming transgender as a term to unify all forms of gender nonconformity. You are 'free' to be any gender (there are now 50+ and still counting) you want. Could this possibly have anything to do with living helplessly, castratedly, in a decadent, late imperialist society, where we watch Rome/ Kiev/ ? burn on life-size flat screen TVs, stopping to snort some coke and drug ourselves into oblivion? Is our 'democratic' civilization nurturing, transforming us, defying nature one last time? 

Our Mengele died, his sins unatoned for, let alone punished. In fact, his philosophy is still the bedrock of modern gaylib, and paraphilic porn is watched (by little boys too) 24/7. And anyone who begs to stand by the real science (thank you comrade Dantchakova!) is pilloried, banned from speaking, fired. How very McCarthy.

Just as you can’t wipe clean a baby’s genetic imprint, you can’t wipe clean McCarthyism with cosmetic surgery, by lurching into some other (im)moral extremism. We are still fighting WWII today, with russophobia the new McCarthyism, and transgender activists on the frontlines.

The way forward is a return to old truths. Yes, down with bullying, but it’s not just outliers that suffer. 22% of boys and girls are bullied, regardless of sexual preference or gender identity. Just be courteous. That’s as much regulation as we need. And discreet. No need to flaunt your differences. We should all keep our sexualities in the closet, out of sight. It’s actually much sexier that way.


*Chopping off an enlarged phallic-like clitoris is not so bad. 'Just' no orgasm.

**eating shit.

***Despite the evidence against him, Money was still at it when Colapinto's book came out.  he was following two more bungled circumcisions (in Atlanta) on March 22, 1985, 20 years to the date after B-B-D's. The one who opted to be raised as a boy was doing fine. Dr Money advised the other to do a Brenda. And wouldn't you know? Same story as with B-B-D -- stonewalling, broken home, court-appointed guardian. Mengele-Money to the rescue. Thankfully he died in 2006, but his legacy continues.

****The innermost part of a temple of Vesta.

Receive email notifications when new articles by Eric Walberg are posted.

Please enable the javascript to submit this form

Connect with Eric Walberg

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here

'Connect with Eric on Facebook or Twitter'

Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

Purchase Eric Walberg's Books

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here