The Story of David Reimer

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This is the story of David Reimer. David was born “Bruce” – along with an identical twin brother, Brian. At 7 months of age, there was a circumcision accident in which “Bruce’s” penis was almost entirely burnt off. It was 1966, and the Reimer’s sought the best medical advice available.

Dr. John Money told the Reimer’s to raise their son as a daughter. He insisted that “she” never be told that “she” had been born male. The Reimer’s changed Bruce’s name to “Brenda” and raised her as a girl.Money thought he had the perfect experiment to prove that gender was a product of environment, not our biology (genetics). He thought that gender was determined by nurture, not nature. He used the Reimer twins to prove his theory of “gender neutrality.” For more details visit,a%20botched%20circumcision%20in%20infancy.

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The results were catastrophic. I won’t otherwise tell you how the story ends. Watch the video and find out. After you have watched the video, answer the following questions in one complete essay:

What is the difference between sex, gender and sexual orientation?
What is the power of DNA (genetics), and can our nurturing out-muscle it?
Based on this story, is gender the result of genetics or environment?
What do you make of the fact that “Brenda” was raised a girl and given female hormones (“she” was told they were vitamins), but grew up to marry a woman?
What does this suggest about the origins of sexual orientation?
Remember, we all will watch the video so I do not need a movie review. I’m looking for students to think more deeply than a summary. What do you think about what happened and why? Integration of textbook and video material and critical thinking are key here.

Note: because this is an older video, you may encounter vocabulary that is not used today. If you wish, feel free to use/discuss more up to date terms/understanding of concepts.

Anything “borrowed” from your textbook, video or other sources must be paraphrased (in your own words) – direct quotes are never permitted from any source on any assessment in this course. All outside sources such as the video must be properly cited and referenced (APA only).

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