The story behind sex change surgery you haven't heard By Mary Rezac
You've probably heard of Bruce Jenner.
Now referred to as Caitlyn Jenner, the high-profile Olympic athlete with a famously dramatic family had a very high-profile transition from male to female – including mutilple surgical alterations, a cover on Vanity Fair magazine and the now-canceled docu-series “I am Cait.”
You probably haven't heard of Bruce Reimer.
Bruce and his twin brother Brian were born in Canada in the 1960s. At the age of seven months, the otherwise healthy boys were circumcised. But the doctors used a new method of circumcision, involving an electric cauterizing needle, on Bruce. An accident occurred, completely burning off the little boy's penis.
Brian's operation was canceled, but his parents were devastated.
The Reimers decided to take Bruce to Dr. John Money, a psychologist and sexologist at Johns Hopkins they had seen on T.V.
Dr. Money had a theory that aside from reproductive and urinary functions, gender was a social construct. Until the Reimer twins, he had largely worked with intersex cases – children born with ambiguous genitalia or abnormal sex chromosomes.
But the Reimer twins – otherwise healthy and biologically normative – were the perfect experiment on which to test his theory of gender fluidity. Brian would be raised as a boy, and Bruce would from now on be called Brenda, and raised as a girl.
The Reimers agreed, and insisted on girl's clothes and socialization for Brenda throughout childhood. They never told the twins about the accident, or about Brenda's biological sex.
The twins were brought in for a yearly observation with Dr. Money, who dubbed the case a wild success by the time the twins were nine years old.
“No-one else knows that she is the child whose case they read of in the news media at the time of the accident,” he wrote.
“Her behavior is so normally that of an active little girl, and so clearly different by contrast from the boyish ways of her twin brother, that it offers nothing to stimulate one's conjectures.”