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For decades the John/Joan case apparently proved that nurture not nature dictates gender identity. In fact, the case was not a success and hid a personal tragedy for David Reimer

Janet and Ron Reimer's twin sons, Bruce and Brian, were born in Winnipeg in Canada in August 1965. During a routine circumcision Bruce suffered a catastrophic injury to his penis. A year later, on the advice of Dr John Money, founder of the Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins University Medical Centre in Baltimore, Bruce became Brenda and the Reimers began to raise their son as a daughter.

John Money published the case as one of successful gender re-assignment when the twins were 9. Yet by the time Brenda was a teenager she was suicidal. When her parents finally told her the truth, Brenda decided to change back to her original gender; she became David Reimer.

The medical literature continued to quote the John/Joan case as evidence of successful gender reassignment, until Milton Diamond, Director of the Pacific Centre for Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii, finally tracked down David Reimer and published an article in 1997. Journalist John Colapinto followed it up with a book about David in 2000.
As a man, David appeared finally to have found happiness in marriage. But a series of events took their toll: his twin brother's death, the loss of his job, and separation from his wife all proved too much and he took his own life on 4 May 2004.

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28 minutes

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Sat 27 Nov 2010 05:32GMT