Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

At a very early age, children know who they really are-boys or girls. But what if someone comes to mind to deceive nature: will it be possible to grow a girl out of a boy with the help of dolls and pink color? A terrible experiment that showed that socialization does not affect the formation of gender identity.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

In 1965, in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Janet and Ron Rymerov was born two twin boys. They were named Brian and Bruce. They looked like healthy babies, but a few months later the boys ' mother noticed that they had difficulty urinating. After the examination, it turned out that the reason for this was phimosis — a disease in which it is impossible to expose the head of the penis.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

Doctors recommended to make a simple circumcision procedure — according to doctors, it will allow the boys to forget about the disease forever. Brian's surgery went smoothly, but something went wrong with Bruce. As a result of either the negligence of doctors, or a technical malfunction of the device, Bruce received a serious burn of his penis. So serious that the doctors threw up their hands and admitted that it would hardly be possible to restore the sexual organ completely.

My parents were horrified. And at a loss — what to do now? In search of an answer, the parents accidentally stumbled upon a television show in which a certain John Money took part. He made bold statements about gender and gender, said that all children are born neutral, clean sheets, and society makes them boys or girls.

Manya had many ethically controversial views, including on incest and pedophilia, but the Rymers were not concerned about this at the time. They were worried about the fate of their own child.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

By the way, Mani's views fit well into the rhetoric of that time — a period when women actively fought for their rights, going against the traditional role of a woman. The Rymers looked upon him as a god. God, who promised that he would solve their problem. Money suggested turning Bruce... into To the brand. To raise not a boy, but a girl.

The solution seemed perfect. The Rymers cheered up and agreed to an operational castration. So on July 3, 1967, the boy Bruce became Brenda. His penis was removed and an artificial vaginal slit was created. The parents and the baby were allowed to go home, strictly forbidding them to tell the child that he was born a boy. Thus began the project "John / Joanna", which was supposed to glorify Mani for centuries.

The problems started from the very beginning, although it is difficult to say what they were actually connected with.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

Janet recalls that when she tried to put a dress on Brenda, she would get hysterical and violently tear it off. Janet thought then:

In junior school, Brenda was cruelly bullied by her peers, forbidding, for example, to go to the toilet — both female and male.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

Brenda had to regularly visit Mani in the company of her brother, where the doctor taught her to "behave like a girl". According to David (this name was taken by Bruce when he got older), Mani conducted terrible experiments on him and his brother. He showed the children detailed images of sexual activities.

Rymer claimed that Money went further. He called it a "sexual rehearsal game", in which the twins had to get used to their roles in sex and be ready to perform them in adulthood.

In other similar games, Brenda had to lie on her back and spread her legs, and her brother lay on top. It is still not entirely clear whether these accusations are true. According to John Colapinto's article, Mani rationalized such behavior, arguing that such games were necessary for the formation of a healthy gender identity.

Former students of Mani stood up for their mentor, claiming that he did it with the best intentions. As a result of taking estrogen, Brenda's breasts grew. Mani rested on his laurels and claimed that the experiment was going well.

David recalled the visits to the doctor as a traumatic, not a therapeutic experience. Later, his brother Brian was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

Mani continued to visit the Rymer family, insisting that they agree to a second operation, as a result of which a full-fledged vagina would be constructed. When Brenda became a teenager, she refused surgery. At least once I tried to kill myself, and I took estrogen irregularly.

One day, after one of the visits to the psychiatrist, Ron Rymer did not take his daughter home. Instead, he took her to an ice cream parlor, where he told her the whole truth. She was 15 years old, and her life suddenly made sense.

That explained a lot. Brenda wanted to have an operation and finally return to her male self.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

Thanks to the development of phalloplasty, five years later, Brenda received her penis, almost indistinguishable from the real one. His sensitivity was limited, but he allowed sex. Brenda renamed herself David.

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

When he was 23, David met Jane. She was a single mother of three children. Soon they were married. However, the family happiness did not last long — soon the couple broke up, and another grief came to the Rymer family. Brian, who suffers from schizophrenia, committed suicide — he took too many medications for his disease.

David took the death of his brother very hard and felt his responsibility, because his parents paid all their attention to Bruce-Brenda. Every day he came to his grave with fresh flowers. Mani refused to admit his mistake. According to him, the problem was precisely in David — he refused to recognize himself as a girl, and his parents delayed the operation.

In May 2004, as a result of several years of severe depression, David committed suicide. His biographer John Colapinto said that he was not surprised by this outcome:

Brenda or Bruce: The tragic story of a boy who grew up as a girl

David parked his truck at a local shopping center, pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger.

Keywords: Biography | Girl | Boy | Tragedy

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