As Nature Made Him
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“We should aspire to Colapinto's stellar journalist example: listening carefully to the circumstances of those who are different rather than demanding that they conform to our own.” —Washington Post
The true story about the "twins case" and a riveting exploration of medical arrogance, misguided science, societal confusion, gender differences, and one man's ultimate triumph
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. The boy's uninjured brother, raised as a boy, provided to the experiment the perfect matched control. 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.
Writing with uncommon intelligence, insight, and compassion, John Colapinto 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, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man's—and one family's—amazing survival in the face of terrible odds.
Praise For As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl…
— Philadelphia Inquirer
"A riveting account of medical arrogance and misguided science."
"Colapinto's account . . . raises fascinating scientific, philosophical, and ethical questions—and also packs an irresistible narrative force from start to finish.
— Providence Phoenix
"Colapinto's book is a stinging and overdue indictment of the 'sexual reassignment' of infants like baby Bruce and those born with both male and female sex organs....The book also serves as an intimate, heartbreaking diary of Bruce Brenda Reimer, the casualty of a ghoulish science project gone terribly wrong."
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Colapinto, a writer of striking lucidity and compassion, inspired the very private man who now proudly calls himself David to reveal the entire story of his horrendous ordeal in hopes of preventing others from suffering his fate. The result is an arresting and invaluable narrative of personal tragedy, scientific arrogance, and societal confusion over the source and significance of gender differences."
"Colapinto, the reporter who won a National Magazine Award for a piece on David's story, engrossingly recounts this tale of grotesque medical hubris and a life dragged slowly from the ashes....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, starred review
"For the most part, As Nature Made Him is a story of innocence stolen, and of ill fate bravely born....But the book is also a testament to the immutability of self. Because David in the end is a triumph."
— Dallas Morning News
"In the end, what makes As Nature Made Him impossible to put down is not the machinations of a misguided scientist but the suffering, courage and ultimate triumph of a truly unfortunate child."
— Psychology Today
"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
"Raises fascinating scientific, philosophical questions--and also packs an irresistible narrative force from start to finish"
— Boston Phoenix
"The hottest hypothesis in the academic world today is that nature always trumps nurture. John Colapinto's absorbing As Nature Made Him stands as exhibit A."
— Tom Wolfe
"This is a mesmerizing tale that manages to balance an engrossing look at what happened to Brenda with a persuasive argument that biology, not environment, determines sexuality."
— San Antonio Express
"This thoroughly researched and skillfully told profile of David Reimer deserves to be an early candidate for the best nonfiction book of the year."
— Albany Times Union
"What happened to Bruce and his parents is a true-life medical horror to rival any of Robin Cook's science thrillers...a fascinating book."
— Houston Chronicle
“Ultimately, the book stands as a passionate warning against social pressure and prejudice'whether medical, ideological or biological. As a society, we should aspire to Colapinto's stellar journalist example: listening carefully to the circumstances of those who are different rather than demanding that they conform to our own.”
— Washington Post
“With remarkable concision, Mr. Colapinto has telescoped this medical scandal, brilliantly weaving the perspectives of David [Reimer], his family, friends, doctors, and wife...The book's structure is that of a mystery.”
— New York Observer
"An engaging book. Given access to Reimer's psychiatric files, family and friends, the author reconstructs a horrific tale: a scrappy kid made to wear pink and pearls; a bully of a doctor unwilling to admit failure; a family torn apart by guilt. David's courageous and unlikely victory--today he's a happily married stepfather of three--shows us how psychololgy's theories du jour can be painfully, dreadfully wrong. A gut-wrenching, absorbing account
— People magazine
Harper Perennial, 9780061120565, 336pp.
Publication Date: August 8, 2006
About the Author
John Colapinto has written for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Us Weekly, and Rolling Stone, where the landmark National Magazine Award-winning article that was the basis for As Nature Made Him first appeared. He is also the author of the novel About the Author. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.