As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl

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9780060192112: As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl

In 1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender. The case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine - and a total failure. As Nature Made Him tells the extraordinary story of David Reimer, who, when finally informed of his medical history, made the decision to live as a male. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man's - and one family's - amazing survival in the face of terrible odds.

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A few photographs.

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Once you begin reading As Nature Made Him, a mesmerising story of a medical tragedy and its traumatic results, you absolutely won't want to put it down. Following a botched circumcision, a family is convinced to raise their infant son, Bruce, as a girl. They rename the child Brenda and spend the next 14 years trying to transform him into a her. Brenda's childhood reads as one filled with anxiety and loneliness, and her fear and confusion are present on nearly every page concerning her early childhood. Much of her pain is caused by Dr Money, who is presented as a villainous medical man attempting to coerce an unwilling child to submit to numerous unpleasant treatments.

Reading over interviews and reports of decisions made by this doctor, it is difficult to contain anger at the widespread results of his insistence that natural-born gender can be altered with little more than willpower and hormone treatments. The attempts of his parents, twin brother, and extended family to assist Brenda to be happily female are touching--the sense is overwhelmingly of a family wanting to do "right" while being terribly misled as to what "right" is for her. As Brenda makes the decision to live life as a male (at age 14), she takes the name David and begins the process of reversing the effects of oestrogen treatments. David's ultimately successful life--a solid marriage, honest and close family relationships and his bravery in making his childhood public--bring an uplifting end to his story. Equally fascinating is the latest segment of the long-time nature/nurture controversy, and the interviews of various psychological researchers and practitioners form a larger framework around David's struggle to live as the gender he was meant to be. --Jill Lightner

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