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How One Doctor Tried to Prove Gender Was Entirely Socially Constructed – With Horrific Results

First article of series on gender theory


Dale O’Leary - published on 05/30/13

Dr John Money recommended numerous patients be raised the opposite of their birth-gender

On December 21, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the dangers of new theories of gender. While the media focused on his condemnation of the redefinition of marriage, Benedict’s critique was more comprehensive, focusing on gender theory in general. Contrasting Christian philosophical approaches with gender theory, he pointed out:

According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves.”

Additionally, he stated, those promoting gender theories “dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity.” In an era that prides itself on concern for nature, human nature is under attack.

The redefinition of gender began in the 1950s. In the past, the word ‘sex’ in the English language referred to the totality of what it means to be a man or a woman, while ‘gender’ was a grammatical term. Some words have gender – masculine, feminine, or neuter. English is an extremely un-gendered language. Only third person singular pronouns and a few nouns are gender specific. Compare this to Italian or Hebrew, where all nouns, adjectives, articles, and verbs in the second and third person singular and plural are either masculine or feminine.

Today in the United States, the government and commercial forms which used to ask for our sex now ask for our gender. On seeing this, many people have assumed that ‘gender’ is just a synonym for ‘sex,’ and that ‘gender’ was a more polite way of speaking, since ‘sex’ has a secondary meaning, namely as a shortened form for sexual intercourse. They didn’t see a problem.

But those pushing the use of the word ‘gender’ did not do so out of an over-scrupulous sense of propriety; for them ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are not synonyms. ‘Sex’ refers only to biology, and ‘gender’ to the sex a person identifies with, which can be the same, or different from their biological sex.

The redefinition of ‘gender’ was engineered by John Money, who was on the staff of the prestigious Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Money was not an objective scientist, but an ‘agent provocateur of the sexual revolution’ who delighted in shocking people by his use of vulgarity and obscene photographs. He offered support to the movement to normalize sexual relationships between adult men and boys. He despised religion. (John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him) He promoted the idea that sexual identity could be broken down into its constituent parts – DNA, hormones, internal and external sexual organs, secondary sexual characteristics, and gender identity – the sex with which a person identifies.

There is nothing wrong with noticing those parts that make up the whole of our sexual identity, but Money was interested in those persons for whom the parts appeared to be in conflict: those who were biologically one sex, but identified with the other. While it is true that some people want to be the other sex, and may even believe that they should have been born the other sex, these beliefs should not be credited as equal to the reality of their biological sex, but recognized as symptoms of an underlying psychological disorder.

Money focused his attention on babies born with disorders of sexual development, sometimes referred to as hermaphrodites or intersex. In rare instances, a baby is born with a congenital or hereditary condition that makes it difficult to identify the baby’s true sex, or with deformed sexual organs. Those interested in a discussion of this problem can reference a paper by the Italian National Bioethics Committee entitled, “Minor’s Sexual Differentation Disorders: Bioethical Aspects,” which describes the various disorders and treatment options.

Money forwarded the theory that a child’s gender identity was formed not by biology, but by socialization, and that genetic boys with deformed penises could be surgically altered to resemble girls and raised as female. He insisted that the boy would accept that he was a girl and as an adult be able to engage in sexual relations as a female (a high priority for Money). This protocol was widely accepted.

In 1967, the perfect case to prove Money’s theory that gender identity was created by socialization presented itself to him. A baby boy’s penis was accidentally destroyed during a botched circumcision. His parents saw Money interviewed on television, talking about children with disorders of sexual development, and appealed to him for help. He was optimistic. He proposed that the boy be castrated and raised as a girl. Money assured the parents that the boy would fully accept this transition if the parents were consistent in their treatment of him as a girl. Since the boy had an identical twin brother who would serve as a control, the case would be conclusive proof of Money’s theory that gender identity was socially constructed. Money spoke about and published reports of the case and assured everyone that the experiment was a total success.

As the years passed, those who were interested in the case wondered how things had turned out. Had this boy raised as a girl matured normally? Money was evasive and said that, although the child had totally adjusted to being a girl, he had lost touch with the family. Dr. Milton Diamond, who had studied the effect of prenatal hormones on the brain in animals, was not satisfied. After a number of years, he tracked down the family and found that Money had totally distorted the results of his experiment. The boy had never accepted that he was a girl. He just didn’t know what was wrong with him. He and his brother were forced to make yearly visits to Dr. Money, during which they were subjected to what must be viewed as psychological child abuse. Money insisted that the boy undergo surgery to create a vagina, but the boy refused and threatened suicide if taken back to see Money. Finally, a local therapist, working with the now 14-year-old, encouraged the family to tell the boy the truth. The minute he heard he was born a boy, he wanted to live according to his real identity. Money had not lost contact with the family; he knew his experiment had failed, but did not admit it. 

In 2006, a book by John Colapinto, As Nature Made Himexposed Money as a fraud. In addition, many of the children born with disorders of sexual development and who were surgically altered according to Money’s protocols had now grown to adults and have protested against what was done to them. A number reverted to their birth sex. They have demanded that such operations be stopped and children with such problems be allowed to discover their own sexual identity.

Money also encouraged Johns Hopkins to provide so-called ‘sex change’ operations, in which men who believed they had the brain of a woman were surgically altered to resemble women. When Dr. Paul McHugh took over the psychiatric department at Johns Hopkins, he commissioned a study into the outcome of these supposed ‘sex changes.’ Finding that this radical treatment did not address the underlying psychopathology of the clients, he discontinued the practice. He labeled it “collaborating with madness.” (Paul McHugh) Unfortunately, other hospitals continued to perform this mutilating surgery.

Dale O’Leary is a freelance writer, author of The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality (which is available in Spanish and Italian) and One Man, One Woman. She writes for numerous publications and has spoken around the world. This series of articles is based on talks given in Brescia, Italy in April of 2013.

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