For many years, a story haunted me. It was a story told in graphic detail to a bunch of priests and teachers, one of whom was me, by a doctor in our stake; a story about a baby boy who lost his penis during a botched circumcision, and who was then surgically altered to become female by his ignorant parents and by malicious doctors in order to cover up the “mistake.” The larger point of the story, of course, was to impress upon us the level of wickedness and sexual disregard in the world today by way of an anecdote which presumed the principle of gender essentialness. I’m not sure it worked; trying to scare or horrify someone into righteousness and/or orthodoxy usually doesn’t. But I never forgot the story, and I always wondered what kind of hell that child had been thrust into.
An awful one, as it turns out. Over the years I would occasionally hear different versions of that same story, always with some variation on the basic details. For a long time I assumed it was just an urban legend. But then a while back I ran across an article which told the full story: of David Reimer, born in 1965 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, butchered accidentally as an infant and then permanently traumatized by the monstrous hubris of one Dr. John Money, who–as Paul Cella aptly put it–placed a “real flesh and blood sacrifice at the altar of the twin gods Liberation and Rationalism.”
Last month David Reimer, who had struggled long and hard to overcome what had been done to him and to find some peace and happiness, committed suicide. Those who knew his sad story well tell it here and here.