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As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girlby John Colapinto
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Harrowing and enthralling, As Nature Made Him makes a convincing case that gender has less to do with the signals we send and receive from the world than with ineradicable messages encoded in every cell of our brains and bodies." Elle
"[A]n arresting and invaluable narrative of personal tragedy, scientific arrogance, and societal confusion over the source and significance of gender differences." Booklist
"Colapinto's storytelling, taut and emotive, never plays the grim tale for its sideshow qualities, nor claims the last word on nature versus nurture." Kirkus Reviews
"Riveting, cleanly written, and brilliantly researched." Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review
"John Colapinto debunks Money's version of Brenda's childhood in his fascinating, exhaustively researched As Nature Made Him....The result is a detailed and riveting account." Seattle Post Intelligencer
In 1967, after a baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment. On the advice of a renowned expert in gender identity and sexual reassignment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the boy was surgically altered to live as a girl. This landmark case, initially reported to be a complete success, seemed all the more remarkable since the child had been born an identical twin: his uninjured brother, raised as a boy, provided to the experiment the perfect matched control.
The so-called twins case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine and the social sciences; cited repeatedly over the past thirty years as living proof that our sense of being male or female is not inborn but primarily the result of how we are raised. A touchstone for the feminist movement, the case also set the precedent for sex reassignment as standard treatment for thousands of newborns with similarly injured, or irregular, genitals.
But the case was a failure from the outset. From the start the famous twin had, in fact, struggled against his imposed girlhood. Since age fourteen, when finally informed of his medical history, he made the decision to live as a male. John Colapinto tells this extraordinary story for the first time in As Nature Made Him. Writing with uncommon intelligence, insight, and compassion, he also sets the historical and medical context for the case, exposing the thirty-year-long scientific feud between Dr. John Money and his fellow sex researcher, Dr. Milton Diamond--a rivalry over the nature/nurture debate whose very bitterness finally brought the truth to light. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, As Nature Made Him is first and foremost a human drama of one man's-and one family's--amazing survival in the face of terrible odds. The human intimacy of the story is all the greater for the subject's courageous decision to step out from behind the pseudonym that has shrouded his identity for the past thirty years.
About the Author
John Colapinto's articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Us, and Rolling Stone. As Nature Made Him is based on a landmark article published in Rolling Stone that won the National Magazine Award. John Colapinto lives in New York City with his wife and son. He is at work on a novel.
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