Written by Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: the Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, scores high in sexuality matters. It talks of one David Reimer, whom after a bungled circumcision and eventual emasculation, lived as a girl; Brenda, until age fifteen. Tackling different issues on sexuality, this book offers the reader the opportunity to think critically, evaluate sexual information contained in it, and postulate future research areas.
Colapinto arouses many questions concerning the popular thought that circumcision makes someone better. Being a journalist, Colapinto highlights sexuality issues from an objective point of view, something that a sexologist would not do. He gives facts about Brenda’s case without bias, something a clinician or a sexologist would find hard to accomplish. He provides useful analysis of this aspect of personality by making convincing arguments.
In 1965, Janet Reimer, wife to Ron Reimer gave birth to twin boys, Bruce and his brother. After eight month, these couple took their babies for mundane circumcision. Unfortunately, Bruce lost his penis to an electric burning machine. This tragedy left Bruce critically damaged such that his parents did not know what to do.
Fortunately, one night as they were watching television in 1967, the Reimers saw Dr. Money explaining how successful he had carried out sexual surgery in the past. Dr. Money indicated that he had helped people change their sexuality and their response was compelling.
Given the fact that Bruce had lost his penis, Ron observed that it would be better for him to face life as a girl than face manhood as a man minus penis. Therefore, the Reimers contacted Dr. Money for an operation. However, this operation brought more problems than solutions to baby Bruce and the family as they were caught in culture wars that prevailed in the 1980s.
Brenda grew up a shy and reluctant girl. She never associated with any girlish play things like dolls; no, she found her comfort and joy in trucks, which she shared with her brother.
In spite of these growing masculine behaviors, Dr. Money insisted that the Reimers should continue treating Brenda as a girl. Unfortunately, Dr. Money turned out to be a pervert. He would ask Brenda and his brother to play sex; at one point, he asked the Reimers to have sex in front of the children though they refused. Unwittingly, the Reimers continued following Dr. Money’s suggestions; however, the worst was still to come.
Emotional and behavioral issues began to arise; Brenda could not go to school with ease; Ron became alcoholic while Janet developed depression problems. Fortunately, at the age of thirteen, Brenda started seeing another therapist who convinced the Reimers to explain to Brenda what had really happened. In March 1980, the Reimers explained to Brenda her misfortunes and renamed him David.
As aforementioned, the author of this book provides useful analysis of this aspect of personality. For instance, as the book opens, the author makes it clear that, “no dialogue or scenes have been invented for the purposes of `narrative flow,’ atmosphere,’ or any other quasi-novelistic purpose” (Colapinto, 2000, p. ix).
This proves the credibility of the analysis given. Most of the information contained in the book came from different psychologists who interacted with Brenda during her childhood and adolescence. Brenda’s family played key role in writing of this book for they offered primary information about Brenda’s case. Therefore, from these grounds, the book is authentic.
Colapinto offers useful analysis by using credible sources to write this book. Bearing in mind that he is not a clinician but a journalist, he involves clinicians to authenticate his claims. For instance, he analyses John Money’s views on pedigrees of sexual individuality development, which differs with the views of Milton Diamond. Colapinto notes that these differences have been a point of contention amongst psychologists and clinicians.
By offering this factual analysis concerning this aspect of personality, the author provides the reader with in-depth analysis concerning the same. As aforementioned, this book presents important information about critical thinking and provides rich grounds for exploring the relationship between clinical practice, research, and theory.
According to Kaplan (2009), “the book illuminates the fact that the sociopolitical zeitgeist exerts a tremendous influence not only on how research questions are answered and how those answers translate into policy and practice, but on the very questions that are asked.”
Continuing with the analytical element of this book, there emerges critical information about sexuality. For instance, the author points out that Dr. Money vulgarized his “neutrality-at-birth” hypothesis. According to John Hopkins’ studies, Colapinto notes that, Dr. Money overlooked important issues in concluding that sexuality is acquired, not innate. More sexuality issues arise because of Dr. Money’s beliefs as presented in the book.
One of the greatest questions that readers get answer from this book is the question of nature vs. nurture in sexuality matters. Dr. Money popularized the notion that at birth, children are sexually neutral and they could be nurtured to be of any sex. This was contained in Dr. Money’s theory of neutrality-at-birth.
This explains why the Reimers were quick in trusting this self-proclaimed ‘sex missionary’ with Brenda’s problem. Moreover, this book is strongly analytical given the nature of its elaborate analysis of empirical studies on sexuality, especially Diamond’s studies.
Colapinto utilizes “Concepts such as experimental controls and analogue designs providing students with an excellent framework for understanding the underlying logic of the famous twin study, one method used by researchers to tease out the relative contributions of nature and nurture” (Kaplan, 2009). Hence, this book stands out as a pedagogical tool in different areas of sexuality studies.
Concerning the issue of ethics, this book arouses the question of just how and to what extent, should professionals like Dr. Money be involved in growth of inter-sex children. As the book ends, Colapinto talks of Intersex Society of North America, giving its objectives and its future role in society. This information is critical concerning this aspect of sexuality.
This book “provides a wealth of material related to research ethics in a broad sense, including how, when, and where research findings are published in scholarly journals and the manner in which these findings are disseminated to the general public” (Kaplan, 2009). Moreover, readers get to understand that science or research does not take place in vacuity; however, for a publication to be made there has to be a process of reviewing and ascertaining the subject under study.
The authors argument is convincing looked at, from two different perspectives. First, the authenticity of the argument evidenced by the extensive consultations of primary sources makes Colapinto’s argument convincing. Secondly, given Colapinto’s nature as a journalist, he makes compelling arguments with well-constructed sentences that bring flow in the story making it enjoyable to read.
He describes characters figuratively, something that makes the reader draw a mental picture of what is happening. For instance, he describes Dr. Money and Diamond as, “suavely charismatic individual … with the long, elegantly cut features of a matinee idol….Diamond is a very objective, reasonable, almost mild-mannered scientist…” (Colapinto, 2000, p. 18).
This is very convincing and it makes Kaplan (2009), to note that, “it is in Colapinto’s exploration of Money’s and Diamond’s respective characters that As Nature Made Him reads more like a juicy novel than an objective report. John Money…a truly chilling figure; unabashed hubris, is matched only by his Machiavellian need for power, control, and recognition.” This journalistic nature of the story makes it convincing and compelling.
Nevertheless, few areas can be addressed in future research. For instance, there is need to explore a balanced and accurate understanding of sex research on ethical concerns raised by this book.
Colapinto explored different issues on sexuality in his book; As Nature Made Him; the Boy Who Lived as a Girl. Bruce suffered a sexual tragedy in the process of circumcision after which he lived as a girl for fifteen years. Dr. Money’s theories coupled with the Reimers gullibility kept Bruce as a baby girl named Brenda for fifteen years before telling him the truth.
The author provides useful analysis about sexuality by using credible sources and referring to research to expound sexual issues presented in Bruce’s case. Given the fact that, the author is a journalist, he uses compelling language to convince the reader about his arguments. The ethical issues raised by the author of this book offer rich grounds for future research.
Colapinto, J. (2000). As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl. New York: HarperCollins.
Kaplan, B. (2009). As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl By John Colapinto. Transgender Mental Health. Retrieved 20 Apr. 2010, from;