Let's start wrapping up our investigation into one of the modern world's most destructive (albeit largely unknown) forces: the Johns Hopkins psychologist and sexologist John Money. As we saw last time, no sooner had John Money announced his spectacular "success" in transforming a boy into a girl through social conditioning alone, than the whole world—at least, Western intellectuals—believed him. And cheered. (Well, the whole world except one dogged skeptic, about whom more later).
But behind Money's triumphant announcement, and all the public fanfare, lay the truth.
The truth was that Money's "groundbreaking experiment" looked to be a failure. The now six year old Bruce (now "Brenda") Reimer had never exhibited interest in being a girl at all. Years of Money's extreme conditioning tactics just hadn't worked.
The good news for Money was, barring a stroke of bad luck, the public was never going to find out: even if someone had wanted to, no one could fact-check his claims because no one knew the boy's identity. Money was never going to reveal it. Nor were his team members. Nor were the boy's parents, who wouldn't want to embarrass "Brenda", or admit they'd consented to what increasingly looked like a terrible mistake (particularly the castration), or dare disobey a domineering, world famous, "scientific expert" they held in awe.
But the experiment's failure must have still rankled Money. Besides, what if, one day, the boy's identity somehow leaked, and someone actually decided to fact-check his claims? Money couldn't have that. That would ruin his credibility, his status, his ability to promote his personal sexual ideology, everything.
And so, Money decided to ramp up his own efforts to condition young Bruce into full-blown girlhood. Maybe the right kind of pressure could still make the experiment work. The Reimer twins' annual visits to his clinic at Johns Hopkins provided him with the perfect opportunity—not least because Money didn't permit the Reimer parents into the room while he was conducting his "scientific research" on the boys.
Two decades later, Money's academic admirers would deny, on their hero's behalf, that he would ever behave in the way the Reimer twins later reported. He was a paragon of science, they said. His methods, like his motives, were pure. The Reimers must have hallucinated their memories. Money's admirers even now repeat this same denial.
But it is difficult to take this denial seriously. By the '70's, Money was very open about his views. His own words, as recorded in various interviews, articles, and books up until the '90s, lend ample plausibility to the twins' later reports about Money's behavior during their "therapy" sessions. No one familiar with Money's writing could have expected anything else.
Consider Money's 1976 article, "Childhood: The Last Frontier in Sex Research". Appearing in The Sciences (a journal published by the New York Academy of Sciences), the article featured a frontal photograph of a nude four year old girl preparing to touch her vagina. In the article, Money laments our societal taboo against adults "playing with children's genitals"—that is, he laments the taboo against child molesting (see page 14, paragraph 5). He endorses nursery school children simulating sex acts with each other in class. He speaks glowingly about certain Australian aborigines who celebrate what he calls "infantile sexuality". And he repeatedly casts those who disagree with him as the benighted, prudish dupes of ancient "ruler-priests" who invented the taboo against sexualizing children only "as a lever to control all sorts of behavior".
Or consider this quote, from Money's 1975 book Sexual Signatures: "Explicit sexual pictures can and should be used as part of a child's sex education".
Or another quote from Money, as reported by journalist John Colapinto: "All young primates explore their own and each others' genitals...and that includes human children everywhere...The only thing wrong about these activities is not to enjoy them".
These quotes, and dozens more, make it easy to believe John Money put these very ideas, or ideas similar enough to them, into practice during his annual private visits with the Reimer twins. It's even easier to imagine once you consider the ego incentives Money might have felt to rescue his failing experiment.
According to Bruce, Money tried to feminize his six year old psyche by repeatedly showing him hardcore pornographic photos of men and women having sex. Money would then repeatedly ask him, at that young age, explicit questions about his desire to participate in such acts in the future. Bruce also reported that Money once ordered him to undress and explore his (surgically-made) vulva as Money watched. After Bruce refused this demand, Money exploded in angry shouting. Terrified, Bruce obeyed and pulled down his trousers to explore himself as Money looked on.
Two other things in particular would leave Bruce Reimer with lasting trauma.
One was that Money, while conducting his "scientific research" in these sessions, several times ordered "Brenda" and his brother Brian to simulate sexual intercourse with each other as man and woman. This simulation, according to both brothers, included physical contact and thrusting motions. Bruce also later implied that Money had ordered them to handle each other's genitals in order to help Bruce understand just how different he was from a boy.
In addition, both later reported that Money sometimes invited some of his Johns Hopkins colleagues in to observe these sex simulations. On one occasion, they said, Money took photographs of the simulation. (When investigative journalist John Colapinto tried to verify this specific claim later, he discovered that the Kinsey Institute now owned many of Money's records from this time period, and refused to make them public).
Another traumatizing incident occurred after Money began insisting Bruce submit to a full sex change operation (during which the surgeon on Money's team would fashion a vagina where his testicles used to be). The twelve year old Bruce flatly refused. Money couldn't accept the refusal. It amounted to an unambiguous sign his experiment was indeed a titanic failure. And so, in the attempt to salvage it, Money—unbeknownst to Bruce—invited a fully made-up transsexual to crash the next therapy session and persuade the reluctant boy to get the surgery. The surprise, heavy-handed pressure from the Money/transsexual tag team terrified the young boy. Panicking and feeling boxed in, he bolted from the room. With no idea where he was going, the frantic boy wound up running up a staircase and out on to the roof of the building. After this incident, Bruce told his parents that if they ever planned to take him back to see John Money...he would commit suicide.
Moreover, after this incident, Bruce told Money and his parents he never wanted to visit Money again, he didn't want estrogen, he didn't want surgery, and he didn't want a vagina. As he would later reveal, he had realized on his own some years earlier, without anyone ever telling him so, that he was a boy. He emphasized his earnestness with a credible threat of suicide if forced to return. It's not possible to get clearer than that. The experiment had failed, and the point is that even if we could imagine an essentially impossible scenario in which John Money hadn't quite realized how badly his experiment was failing before this...he has to have known after this.
And yet...Money (unbeknownst to the Reimers in a non-internet world) continued trumpeting his "successful experiment" to the world in his professional speeches, articles, and books as if nothing at all had happened. And the entire medical science community still took his lie at face value. And continued cheering. And began fully aligning their own beliefs and treatment recommendations with John Money's, whose public pronouncements on human sexuality now began to grow increasingly dark and destructive—and mainstream.
Details on that next week, and on what it all means for understanding Wokism.
Tal will be back here next week to continue the conversation. Mark Steyn Club members can weigh in on this column in the comment section below, one of many perks of club membership, which you can check out here.