Just sitting in the diner this morning, leafing through a local (...) newspaper, I saw the obituary for David Reimer, once Brenda, once Bruce. Vaguely familiar with the case, but not having read the book, I was still immediately saddened by his death. An hour later, book in hand, I sat to read a compelling book about the unfounded theories of a doctor that led to the tragic life of Reimer, "As Nature Made Him".
The book, penned by Rolling Stone scribe John Colapinto, recounts the horrific, and I mean horrific, childhood of Bruce Reimer, having survived a botched circumcision, only to be forced to live as a girl by two well-intentioned yet ill-informed parents. Now Brenda, his life bascially becomes a living hell, dressing and acting against his very nature. Even worse, he is forced to undergo bizarre and irrational questioning by supervising doctor John Money that literally made my stomach turn.
Colapinto's book moves fast, very fast, through David's life, making for a quick read. Yet the speed in which you can read this book in no way detracts from its central messages. David comes out of the whole ordeal a wounded survivor, possibly an inspiration to others who might befall the same fate. And yet, his demons caught up with him, causing his recent suicide.
Perhaps none of this would have happened if that one failed circumcision never occured. Or if his mother happened to miss a television special with the notorious Dr. Money on it. But it did, and the tragedy of it all loomed over this work. We simply cannot afford, as a society, to play with people's lives for the sake of advancing careers or prestige or fame. People are much too important for that. Let David's life and death be an example, so that this simply will never, ever happen again.