The Boy Raised as a Girl

In the 1990s, evidence accumulated that sex-stereotyped behavior might not be entirely shaped from the outside. One influential case involved a boy who was raised as a girl. It all started when doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital accidentally damaged an infant boy's penis with a heat cauterization tool during a circumcision operation. The penis was badly burned and damaged beyond repair, so they simply removed it and told the parents to raise the child as a girl. The child took female hormone treatments to encourage normal female development. (In retrospect, all of this seems ridiculous to many psychologists, because it implies that a penis and hormones are all that distinguish a male from a female.) A well-known authority on sexual behavior, John Money of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, interviewed the child annually and wrote journal articles about the anonymous subject of this operation, reporting his "normal" development as a girl.

What is the famous story of "the boy raised as a girl"? What was the outcome of the story?

In reality, the boy raised as a girl had many difficulties. In 1997 he went public with his story. It turned out he had always felt like a boy on the inside. He wanted male toys and wanted to dress like a boy. He even felt it was natural to urinate standing up. By the age of 16 he had learned the truth about his situation and reverted to being a male. After years of difficulty adjusting to his situation, he tried to adjust to life as an adult male. He married to a woman whose children he adopted. However, he was bitter about the experiment conducted on him without his consent, as a child, and he frequently made public statements to the effect that his life was ruined. In the end, he committed suicide. His testimony shows that environmental influences are not the whole story. Part of sex role identity comes from the inside. For lots of details on the case, see .

A second case, similar to the "boy raised as a girl," had a similar outcome. The genetically male patient, being raised as a female, was a "tomboy" interested in male toys as a child. However, this patient accepted the female sex assignment after finding out about it during adolescence and completing reconstructive surgery, eventually marrying a man. The marriage did not work out, and the patient's second marriage was to a female, in a lesbian relationship. See <http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/102/1/e9>. An extensive bibliography of related literature is at <http://www.isna.org/bibliographies/bibbyauthor.html>. The conclusion of experts in trans-gendering is that a person's inner feelings must be taken into account, and these feelings have little to do with external factors like clothing and parental influences.


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