David Reimer Dead at 38

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by rainman::|:|, May 12, 2004.

  1. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    ...of suicide. this is really sad, i was hopeful that he would make it, but he's gone through so much, and his twin recently died, and his wife left him...

    i'm not really trying to start another argument about gender, but i think this guy should be remembered as an immensely strong individual who tried hard at a normal life. Unfortunately his scientific value precludes the value of his character, to many.


    David Reimer, 38, Subject of the John/Joan Case, Dies
    Published: May 12, 2004

    WINNIPEG, Manitoba, May 11 — David Reimer, a man who was born a boy but raised as a girl in a famous medical experiment, only to reassert his male identity in the last 20 years of his life, died on May 4. He was 38. His family says he committed suicide.

    Mr. Reimer shared his story about his life in the pages of a book and on Oprah Winfrey's television show.

    His mother, Janet Reimer, said she believed that her son would still be alive had it not been for the devastating experiment, which led to much emotional hardship.

    "He managed to have so much courage," she said Sunday. "I think he felt he had no options. It just kept building up and building up."

    After a botched circumcision operation when he was a toddler, David Reimer became the subject of a study that became known as the John/Joan case in the 60's and 70's. His mother said she was still angry with the Baltimore doctor who persuaded her and her husband, Ron, to give female hormones to their son and raise him as a daughter.

    As he grew up as Brenda in Winnipeg, he faced cruelty from the other children. "They wouldn't let him use the boys' washroom or the girls'," Ms. Reimer recalled. "He had to go in the back alley."

    His sexual reassignment was then widely reported as a success and proof that children are not by nature feminine or masculine but through nurture are socialized to become girls or boys. David's identical twin brother, Brian, offered researchers a matched control subject.

    But when, as a teenager, he discovered the truth about his past , he resumed his male identity, eventually marrying and becoming a stepfather to three children.

    In 2000, John Colapinto wrote "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl," providing David an opportunity to tell his story. He wanted to save other children from a similar fate, his mother said.

    While he had spoken anonymously in the past, he entered the public eye after the book was published, beginning with an appearance on "Oprah" in February 2000.

    His mother said he had recently become depressed after losing his job and separating from his wife. He was also still grieving over the death of his twin brother two years earlier, she said.
  2. Krizoitz macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    Wow, what a poor guy. The 60's/70's certainly seemed to be lacking in the medical ethics, wasn't the famous prisoner experiment also from the 70's?
  3. Giaguara macrumors 6502a

    Nov 22, 2002
    A sad story .. Why would his parents have allowed the doctors to use him for that experiment? Or the parents didn't realize what it could mean, not even when he was obviously bulled in the school .. :eek:
  4. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    Sounds like an all around tragedy. Hopefully he is at peace.
  5. rainman::|:| thread starter macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    When they did his circumcision as a baby, they tried to use heat to cauterize it, but someone slipped up, and they literally burnt his penis off. Doctors, being stupid at the time, convinced his parents that it would be more traumatic to raise a boy without a penis than to raise the boy as a girl, they decided to use him to prove theories that gender identity is purely environmental and not inborn. Gave him a superficial vagina, hormones, breasts. at the time (and still today), crude vaginas could be created surgically but penises are/were much more difficult. he rejected everything the whole time, but they were sure that once puberty passed, all would be well with Joan. obviously not the case :(

    if they would have left him alone, he would have had to deal with the loss of penis, true; but they could have done more in the future. I believe he got a urinary penis more recently, but could be wrong. i know he was just happy to find a woman who loved him, and had been hoping for a surgery that could allow intimacy. Too bad they split up.

    the worst thing about it is that the doctors refused to allow him to change back to male, because their own reputation was at stake, so they kept lying and issuing reports that he was a perfectly well-adjusted girl. During his youth, psychologists tried to assert a female identity on him by showing him and his twin hardcore pornography (these were children, mind you) and forcing them to touch each other and compare their bodies. It was pretty sick.

  6. blue&whiteman macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    all this reminds me of 2 things.

    first is that many doctors should not be doctors and you wonder how they got through medical school in the first place with brains like that.

    second how thoughtless and heartless people can be.

    this is all so sad and I feel for that guy.
  7. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    That is a very sad story. It seems that his parents were just tying to do what they thought was best at the time. Sadly there are bad apples in every profession. Doctors more than others sometimes like the power that they have. They ended up ruining more than just one life. The psychological damage must have been tremendous. It seems that the loss os a sibling and a wife was just more than he could bare. May he finally find peace. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. :(
  8. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    the doctors are at fault here, i mean what kind of persons tries to force someone to grow up as something they arent.
  9. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    Much of the problem was actually the prevailing view at the time (still very common today) that a person without a penis isn't fully a man, i.e. if you aren't completely male, you might as well be female. That was the underlying concept that led to the assumption that it would be easier for David to live as Brenda. The doctor's decision sounds a lot worse today, after the efforts of the gay/lesbian/transgendered community to clue people into the fact that it doesn't necessarily work that way.

    If you think the doctors should have known better, consider how deeply entrenched the stereotypes are of any deviation from idealized masculinity. Consider how many in our culture consider the terms gay, sissy, and girly to be equivalent.

    Now where the doctors definitely DID screw up was in their efforts to cover up the evidence that didn't support their hypothesis, and in lying about the results.

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