David Reimer - Social Legacy

Social Legacy

For the first thirty years after Dr. Money's initial report that the reassignment had been a success, Dr. Money's view of the malleability of gender became the dominant viewpoint among physicians and doctors, reassuring them that sexual reassignment was the correct decision in certain instances, resulting in thousands of sexual reassignments.

The report and subsequent book about Reimer influenced several medical practices and reputations, and even current understanding of the biology of gender. The case accelerated the decline of sex reassignment and surgery for unambiguous XY male infants with micropenis, various other rare congenital malformations or penile loss in infancy.

Colapinto's book described unpleasant childhood therapy sessions, implying that Money had ignored or concealed the developing evidence that Reimer's reassignment to female was not going well. Money's defenders have suggested that some of the allegations about the therapy sessions may have been the result of false memory syndrome and that the family was not honest with researchers.

The case has been treated as well by Judith Butler in her 2004 book Undoing Gender which examines gender, sex, psychoanalysis and the medical treatment of intersex people. The case of Reimer is used to re-examine Butler's theory of performativity that she originally explored in Gender Trouble.

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