Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis
Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis
Dr. Money did not prove his theory of gender neutrality because “Brenda” grew up feeling like a boy regardless of the fact that she was raised as a girl. Initially, judging from one of the first interviews between Dr. Money and the children, she was adjusting to her role. However, as she grew up, she lived in a constant battle with herself because she simply did not feel like she fit the role that was given to her. Regardless of the fact that she was castrated and there were no more male hormones produced, Brenda always had a masculine inclination. Her overall attitude was that of a man’s.
Brenda was very quick to adjust and embrace her role as a male when she found out the truth. I think that is the greatest proof to disprove his theory of gender neutrality. Assuming that a man/woman could efficiently have been nurtured as the opposite sex, there should have been more reluctance to believe and adjust to their true identity. I think Dr. Money made severe ethical violations with both children, especially with Brenda. From the interviews and her recounts, it seems that he constantly tried to steer her to answer questions and behave how he wanted her to behave.
He essentially wanted to rig the outcome of this experiment. His publication of the experiment itself without further observation seems to further prove his unrelenting belief of his theory of gender neutrality. His publication was released when Brenda was only 7 years old and there is proof that even he noticed contradictions to his theory. Yet, he decided to publish a false publication in which he assured the validity of his theory. No one truly knows whether he took those alleged pictures of the twins but if he did that certainly would have been an ethical violation.
It’s also troubling that the parents were nowhere near and absolutely uninvolved during the process of these interviews. I can see how their presence could have altered the answers of the children during interviews but surely there could have been a way for them to oversee the process of their experiments. And surely, Dr. Money is not the only one at fault for that because the parents should have asked to be more involved. The National Commission for the Protection of
Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research did not release the Belmont Report outlining the ethical conduct for psychologists until 1979; even though the National Research Act was made legal in 1974. In 1979, Brenda was 14, which was around the time when she stopped seeing Dr. Money. I do not think Dr. Money’s behavior was justified but his behavior was also not legally unethical yet during the time when the experiment took place. The experiment itself is utterly fascinating. It’s sad that it was carried out in such an unethical manner and that the subjects were so deeply harmed to the point of a tragic outcome.
I honestly did not judge the parents too harshly because even though I think it is wrong that they were uninvolved for the most part, I truly believe they had the best in mind for their children. Seeing the transgender woman really sparked a hope in their heart that their child could grow up and lead a happy, fulfilling life. It’s hard to imagine what my choice would have been because it is hard to ignore the knowledge of the outcome; hindsight bias at its’ finest. I would like to think I would have raised my child as a boy and that I would have had hope that the advancements in the medical field would aid his situation when he grew up.