In honor of Pride Month

He Lost His Penis as a Baby. The Solution Was Gender Reassignment

The tragic case of David Reimer's gender reassignment is a lesson in what determines gender identity.

Carlyn Beccia
Sexography
Published in
5 min readJun 19, 2023

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The tragic case of David Reimer’s gender reassignment is a lesson in what determines gender identity
Pexels | Photo by Magda Ehlers

*The following contains accounts of castration and sexual abuse.

It began as a simple infant circumcision. Identical twin boys Brian and Bruce (David) Reimer were diagnosed with phimosis — a congenital abnormality in which the foreskin of the penis does not retract. When phimosis is severe, it is often corrected with circumcision.

On April 27, 1966, the surgeon, Dr. Jean-Marie Huot, circumcised Bruce with a cautery machine. During the procedure, the machine malfunctioned, and Bruce's penis was burnt off. His twin brother Brian was spared the same fate.

Desperate for a solution, Mr. and Mrs. Reimer consulted Dr. John Money — a leading psychologist and pioneer in gender identity.

Dr. Money advised the Reimers that their baby would lead a happier life if he was castrated (i.e., testes removed) and had a rudimentary vulva and vaginal canal constructed.

And with a wave of the let's play God wand, surgeons castrated Bruce at the age of two.

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Carlyn Beccia
Sexography

Author & illustrator. My latest books — 10 AT 10, MONSTROUS: THE LORE, GORE, & SCIENCE, and THEY LOST THEIR HEADS. Contact: CarlynBeccia.com