From Bruce to Brenda
In 1965, in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Janet and Ron Reimer had two twin boys. They were named Brian and Bruce. They appeared to be healthy babies, but a few months later the boys’ mother noticed that they were having difficulty urinating. After the examination, it turned out that the reason for this was phimosis – a disease in which it is impossible to expose the head of the penis.
Doctors recommended a simple circumcision procedure – according to doctors, it will allow the boys to forget about the disease forever. Brian’s operation went smoothly, but something went wrong with Bruce. As a result of either the negligence of doctors, or a technical malfunction of the apparatus, Bruce received a serious burn of the penis. So serious that the doctors shrugged and admitted that it would hardly be possible to completely restore the genital organ. The parents were horrified.
And confused – what to do now? In search of an answer, the parents accidentally stumbled upon a television show in which a certain John Money took part. He made a bold statement about sex and gender, saying that all children are born neutral, clean slates, and society makes them boys or girls.
Money had many ethically controversial views, including incest and pedophilia, but the Rhymers did not care at the time. They were worried about the fate of their own child.
By the way, Mani’s views fit well into the rhetoric of that time – a period when women actively fought for their rights, going against the traditional role of a woman.
The Reimers looked up to him like a god. God who promised that he would solve their problem. Money offered to turn Bruce… into Brenda. Raise a girl, not a boy.
The solution seemed perfect. The Reimers perked up and agreed to an operative castration. So on July 3, 1967, the boy Bruce became Brenda. He had his penis removed and an artificial vaginal gap created.
Parents with the baby were allowed to go home, strictly forbidden to tell the child that he was born a boy.
Thus began the John / Joanna project, which was to glorify Mani through the ages.
Be a Brand
The problems began from the very beginning, although it is difficult to say what they were actually connected with. Janet recalls that when she tried to put a dress on Brenda, she became hysterical and violently ripped it off. Janet thought then: “Oh my God, she knows that she is a boy and does not want to wear girls’ clothes.”
In elementary school, Brenda was cruelly bullied by her peers, forbidding, for example, to go to the toilet – both female and male.
Brenda had to visit Money regularly in the company of her brother, where the doctor taught her to “behave like a girl”. According to David (Bruce took this name when he got older), Money conducted terrible experiments on him and his brother. He showed children detailed images of sexual activities. “He told me to take off my clothes,” David said. – I didn’t. Just stood there and he was yelling, “No!” I thought he was going to spank me, so I stripped off and stood there shaking.”
Reimer claimed that Money went further. He called it the “sexual rehearsal game” in which the twins had to get used to their sex roles and be ready to fulfill them in adulthood.
“Brenda had to take a position on all fours (everything happened in his office on the couch), and Brian came up behind her and rubbed his cock between her buttocks,” said Reimer. In other similar games, Brenda had to lie on her back and spread her legs while her brother lay on top. It is still not entirely clear whether these allegations are true. According to John Colapinto’s article, Money rationalized this behavior, arguing that such games were necessary for the formation of a healthy gender identity. Former students of Mani stood up for their mentor, claiming that he did it with the best of intentions.
Brenda’s breasts grew as a result of taking estrogen. Mani rested on his laurels and claimed that the experiment was a success. “The child behaves like a little girl. Her behavior is nothing like the boyish behavior of her twin brother.”
David recalled doctor visits as traumatic rather than therapeutic experiences. His brother Brian was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Money continued to visit the Rhymer family, insisting that they agree to a second operation, which would result in a full-fledged vagina being constructed.
When Brenda became a teenager, she refused the operation. At least once she tried to kill herself, and she took estrogen irregularly.
Once, after one of the visits to a psychiatrist, Ron Rymer did not take his daughter home. Instead, he took her to an ice cream parlour, where he told the whole truth. She was 15 years old, and her life suddenly made sense.
From Brenda to David
It explained a lot. Brenda wanted to have surgery and finally return to her male self. Thanks to the development of phalloplasty, five years later, Brenda received her penis, almost indistinguishable from the real one. His sensitivity was limited, but he allowed to have sex. Brenda renamed herself David.
When he was 23, David met Jane. She was a single mother of three children. They soon got married.
However, family happiness did not last long – soon the couple broke up, and another grief came to the Reimer family. Brian, who suffers from schizophrenia, committed suicide – he took too many drugs for his illness.
David took the death of his brother very hard and felt his responsibility, because his parents paid all the attention to Bruce-Brand. Every day he came to his grave with fresh flowers.
Mani refused to admit his mistake. According to him, the problem was precisely in David – he refused to recognize himself as a girl, and his parents were delaying the operation.
In May 2004, as a result of several years of severe depression, David committed suicide. His biographer John Colapinto said he was not surprised by this outcome: “Anyone who knew David would understand that the miracle is how he lived to be 38 years old. He suffered, physically and psychologically, from childhood to the end of his life. A less brave man than David would have committed suicide even sooner. <...> In one of the conversations, David told me that he would never forget his nightmare childhood. Sometimes he hinted that his end was near.”
David parked his truck outside the local mall, pointed his gun at the head, and pulled the trigger.