Re: Colapinto/Dr Money

From: Gina Miller (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 04:05:28 MDT

I hate to testify on the name of a mid-afternoon television [talk] show that
I can not recall the name of (perhaps it was the Leeza show?), but in any
case: This particular (born and later self proclaimed) man, that Damien
mentions, did appear as a guest, along with others in similar situations. It
became evident that the general feeling expressed by the guest's (all who
had experienced gender reassignment by parents/doctors at an early age or as
babies) thought it best, for the acting adults not to decide. It appeared as
though the other guests, (aside from botched circumcision's) were born with
ambiguous yet functional genitalia.
Apparently the parents (there were some on the panel) state that they are
pressured by the medical facility or doctors to "hurry up" and make a
decision now (at birth), before time goes by and inflicts confusion on the
child. In the cases on the show, it was suggested to the parents that they
reassign. The now grown children clarified that they were too young to make
a choice, and everyone who was there, as an adult, had returned to the
gender they were at birth, the reverse of what they had grown up as. They
had felt mutilated, and forced into a role that felt un-natural. Of course
talk shows are not by any means a factual study. There may be others out
there who have adapted perfectly. But if I were in the same situation, I
think I would like to have the opportunity to grow up, and decide for
myself. I suppose I felt a spilling of empathy of how difficult it must have
been for them to deal with.
Gina "Nanogirl" Miller

Damien wrote:
> Just wondering if anyone else has had a chance to read John Colapinto's
> fascinating, heartbreaking (and rhetorically loaded) book AS NATURE MADE
> HIM, about the famous case of the twin boy who lost his penis during a
> botched circumcision, was then castrated, surgically sex-reassigned and
> raised as a girl. His sponsor, Doc Money, claimed for years this was a
> triumph of adaptation. It became the classic instance cited endlesly in
> feminist and poststrucural `social construction' texts and courses. In
> fact, the poor kid was a psychological mess, and finally came out in
> adolescence as a male (and now married, with adopted kids).
> The argument urged in the book (so far; I'm only halfway thru) is what
> seems to me the obvious one: once the brain has been dimorphised into the
> male developmental cascade in utero and infancy, nurture can't re-set all
> the implicit behavioral templates, or many of the physiological ones, even
> in the absence of testicles.
> This case, however, fails to address the matter of eunuchs and more
> especially castrati, where I assume boy singers were lopped exactly
> their voices thereafter mostly retained their soprano beauty (unlike
> Brenda/David, whose voice changed without added hormones). My working
> is that the history of castrati we see might be the result of several
> intervening filter effects: say, the sweetest singers are those boys
> already (somewhat) feminised in utero; the only castrati who make it into
> the annals are the ones who voices don't inconveniently crack anyway, the
> rest being chucked out...
> In particular, I'd like to hear Loree Thomas's take on this.
> Damien

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