Monday, April 30, 2012


                        Leticia Arellano

                                                      Nature vs. Nurture

             For many years Nature v. Nurture has been a topic well-spoken about. People bring up the subject when dealing on the upbringing of a child. When having a child whether it’s a girl or boy you automatically get into a state of mind that well if I had a girl I have raise it like a girl and if I had a boy I have to raise it as a boy. Parents from the very moment they have a child they incline themselves to raise their child as the gender they were born in. In the following novel “As Nature Made Him” we see this as the main topic. It’s brought up when the Reimers twin baby boy suffered an accident. The accident caused lot of problems to the family; they had to decide whether or not to raise their child as a boy, who will never be a normal functioning male. Then they came across Dr. Money who brought up the idea of raising their twin boy as a girl and if they nurtured him as a girl he would live a normal and healthy life as a woman.  Many people debate that Nature may play a huge role in someone’s life but the nurturing of a child as they grow up plays a bigger role in shaping their identity.  Parents and society have a tremendous impact on the upbringing of a child, but is really enough to trump nature?

             David Reimer was a naturally born identical twin boy. He and his brother Brian went in one day for a minor circumcision but something went wrong and the doctor performing the procedure accidently burned David’s penis completely off. His parents Janet and Ron were in complete shock and lost in what to do with their son. They were afraid that if they raised him as a boy with no penis or a reconstructed penis he would be teased and not live a completely normal life. Then one night Janet came across Dr. Money who has had performed procedures were he has turned a naturally born male into a woman, but keep in mind that these people were heterosexual. He also performed these procedures on babies who were born with both genitals of a boy and girl he would pick the best gender that the baby can have a normal life in. Janet was in complete awe that she gave him a call they met with him and he finally one day convinced them that changing their son’s gender from male to female was the best solution to their problem. On their first meeting with Dr. Money Janet recalls, “I looked up to him as a God” says Janet “I accepted whatever he said” (Colapinto 50). Clearly we see that Dr. made everything he said sound so convincing and reassuring to the Reimers that they were convinced this ‘procedure’ was indeed going to work. What they didn’t know that for Dr. Money this was an experiment because he had done these procedures on hermaphrodites and heterosexuals not a naturally baby born with an assigned gender. He made Janet and Ron believe that if they nurtured him as a girl that it he would believe he was a girl. Janet and Ron didn’t until later catch on that the procedure performed on their son was merely an experiment.

            With so much going on in society it’s really no wonder that Dr. Money and the Reimers really and genuinely thought that raising their baby boy as a girl after his traumatic accident would actually work. Dr. Money gave the Reimers strict rules on how to raise their new daughter. He specifically told them to dress him into girl clothes, buy him girl toys and teach him how to act like a girl, basically nurture her into this new identity and gender. From early on David showed signs that he was never interested in any of that stuff he just wanted to play with his brother stuff and acted more like a boy then a girl. This gradually frustrated Dr. Money and as David got older he tried to basically brainwash him into thinking that he was a girl and was born that way. Dr. Money would take notes on this and one day published his experiment that woman and men are ‘equal’ in every way and there upbringing is what determines there gender identity and stated that his experiment actually had worked. As a surprise many people believed him, they praised him for his success, but there was one discovery that changed the view of Dr. Money’s claim that a naturally born baby boy cannot be raised as a girl. In the following documentary “Sex: Unknown” Roger Gorksey’s intern student makes a discovery that the male and female are similar but there is one part of the brain that defines if you’re a male or female. That one part of the brain gives you your gender identity and not your upbringing as a child.

            Society has had for many years much influence when it comes to gender identity. Society itself puts out so many things that continue to separate females and males. For instance with toys, clothes, career, even the way you act. If you’re a girl/female you are supposed to dress a certain way and act a certain, or have a certain job. In the following article ‘Gender roles in Society’ the author states, “A female is usually expected, obliged to do, or interested in household work, child care and education, leaving professional and social roles more for the males”(Magar 1). You can see so much of this in television shows, toys for girls, magazines and so much more. On the other hand if you’re a boy/male you get the image that you have to be tough, only were a certain colors and you’re the person who is most likely to support the family. In ‘Gender roles in Society’ there definition of a male is, “For instance, males are more interested in or perform physically tough activities like, working in heavy industries, and defense services while females perform tasks like raising children, cooking, embroidery and so on” (Magar). Again stating that females should be the stay at home mother while the male is the tough and successful person in the family.

            In the world that we are living in today society has so much influence, they put so much out there, they somewhat have some influence on your gender identity. This would probably be one reason why now a day parents are choosing to raise their child gender neutral. Gender neutral is basically raising a child who doesn’t really know about genders or what gender he/she is. Their parents choose a neutral name that can be for a girl or a boy. They let the child choose the clothes they want to wear and toys they want to play with. In the following article “Couple raise child as 'gender neutral' to avoid stereotyping” talks about a couple who chose to raise their child gender neutral to avoid stereotyping for five years but had to reveal their child’s gender because soon the child was to start school. The couple only revealed their child sex to people close to them and everyone else had to refer to the child as ‘the infant’. The mother stated, “Gender affects what children wear and what they can play with, and that shape the kind of person they become” (Allvene 1). She is clearly stating that society has so much influence they put so much out there on gender identity and state well if you’re a girl your inclined to wear a dress and wear makeup and if you’re a boy their inclined to wear pants and like sports. Society shapes who we are, so this couple decided that if they raise their child gender neutral the child will not feel pressured to play the role of the gender they were born into. Although the couple wanted to avoid stereotype for their child they still go it because in our society today we yet have to accept this type of upbringing of a child.

            Lastly the argument of Nature v. Nurture is that although nature has a big influence on gender identity genuinely the nurturing of the child and the influence around him/her is what most likely to determine that persons gender identity. In the following article, ‘Gender identity: Family as the most important influence’ it states, “It is important to understand the difference between gender and sex. Sex is biologically determined by one reproductive organs. Gender, however, is socially constructed” (Mason-Brown). That’s where the nature v nurture argument comes in, this author is stating that you may be born genetically a specific gender but the way you socialize and are raised is what determines your gender. Family of course has the biggest impact because they are the ones who raise you, and teach you the fundamentals of your gender.

            Therefore, although nurture may genuinely have a huge impact on the outcome of a person’s gender identity, I personally think nature trumps nurture. We saw it in David’s story clearly, he was born as a male and raised as a female, yet he felt nothing like a female because genetically he was a male and that’s how he felt. Everyone around him tried to help him and make him believe he was a female, but it was no help because again he was born a male. We also saw it in the documentary Sex: Unknown the people who researched a male and female brain discovered that male and female brains are so similar but there is one part of the brain that specifically separates you as a female and male. Other people may argue and say nurture is the main key to gender identity and it’s understandable because of the society we are raised in today has a huge influence on us; society teaches us how to dress, act and so much more. Family also has a part in our gender identity because they are the ones who raise you. Lastly everyone has their own opinion about Nature v. Nurture and it is going to continue to be a debate mostly argued about, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

                                                            Works Cited

Alleyne, Richard. "Couple Raise Child 'Gender Neutral' to Avoid Stereotyping." The Telegraph. N.p., 20 Jan 2012. Web. 29 Apr 2012.

Andrew Cohen, and Stephen Sweigart. Sex:Unknown. N.d. Video. YoutubeWeb. 20 Apr 2012.

Colapinto, John. As Nature Made Him. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. 50. Print.

Magar, Prashant. "Gender Roles In Society." N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr 2012.

Mason-Brown, Sapphire. "Gender Identity: Family as the most important influence." N.p., 24 May 2007. Web. 29 Apr 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

As Nature Made Him (Response #2)

As I read the rest of ‘As Nature Made Him’ it really makes you think about the situation that David was put in. The rest of the book basically follows the struggles he goes through once he hits that stage of puberty. Dr. Money just kept pushing the girl identity on David and he just felt that if he played the part that they would leave him alone. Although that wasn’t the case all the psychiatrist’s that he went through all noticed that he wasn’t happy being a girl but no one ever said anything they just continued to treat him and try and shove the surgery down on him. Although there was one psychiatrist that really proved to him to be different to him and he found this new person whom he can trust. Soon he was changing his view and with her help he finally made a decision that would soon change his life. At the age of 14 he made the decision of making the transition from a ‘girl’ to a boy; what he was destined to be. I really liked that his whole family was very supportive but the transition took a toll on David and he tried to suicide himself on two times.

            Reading this book I learned about gender identity. If a child is born a boy genetically he is a boy and cannot be turned to a girl no matter what the circumstance is. In the book there was a story about a girl named Paula and how she was genetically born a boy and a girl but she had a really small genital. Doctors told the mother to raise him as a boy but she wasn’t satisfied and soon came across an article about Dr. Money and the twin’s case and consulted him. They turned the baby into a girl and publicized her case as to being very successful. Paula was never unhappy and never felt like she was a boy but did mention that she should have the choice to choose what to be because she was turned a girl but has the scars to prove that she isn’t normal. She mentioned how kids born hermaphrodites should have the choice to choose their gender. It can be chosen for them and expect to be nurtured into this gender because by nature they were never that gender. I think that nature will always trump nurture no doctor can play God in a situation like this.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

As Nature Made Him

                                            As Nature Made Him

            While reading the first half of the following book “As Nature Made Him” I was shocked and mostly disappointed in the way things played out for this family. No family should ever deserve for this type of event to happen to them, but it did. I think that David’s parents decision was in there best interest for David but it only ended up hurting not only him but the whole family. Not to mention the pressure that Dr. Money put on them to change their child sex from boy to girl.

At first I thought that his plan was the best option that David’s family had it sounded like the only option. But as I continued to read I started to get the feeling that Dr. Money interest in this case was only to get some sort of famous status for his latest experiment. I was even more shocked the way he would treat the twins in their annual visit with him. Once he started to notice that his ‘experiment’ wasn’t going as planned he would do horrible things to the twins especially David to make sure he knew that he was a ‘girl’. David’s parent and everyone else always treated and made sure to David that he was a girl. Dressing him up as a girl buying him girl toys but it only made him more confused because he felt like a boy on the inside.

This is where gender roles come in David felt he was a boy but society and his parents tried to make him believe he was a girl by dressing him like a girl making him act like a girl. They were trying to Nurture him into this gender role but they couldn’t because in reality nature had made him a boy. His parents were so terrified he wouldn’t have a normal life as a boy, that he wouldn’t be the same as other boys and that they were afraid he wouldn’t fit in with the rest because he was missing the most important part that made him a boy. Of course they would think this but when they turned him into a girl I think it did more damage to him growing up than it would have if he didn’t have a normal working boy organ. He felt so alone and often referred to himself as an ‘it’ because he felt like a boy but on the outside he was a girl. Which in my opinion just made it worse on the child and not to mention his twin brother was also affected by the way his ‘sister’ acted.