Thursday, May 08, 2014

What David Reimer's Story Really Demonstrates

Over at LifeSite, we find one of their editorial staff grossly misunderstanding the tragic story of David Reimer.  
His tragic death emphasized the total failure of one of the most famous gender alteration cases in modern medicine....David Reimer’s traumatic life and horrific death testify that no matter what elaborate theories the unscrupulous attempt to justify in the name of science, nature will always have the upper hand, often at the expense of human life.
The story of David Reimer is important in the canon of understanding gender identity, but not in the way that LifeSite's commentators seem to think:
Parents have a duty to raise their children properly, to demonstrate and teach them what is acceptable and what is not; what is normal and what is not. When parents fail in their duty (often purposely), you end up with the all too common case like the raised-by-lesbians pitiful child TwinCrier links to. 
While they may not be "burning off" anatomy as they (accidentally) did to Mr. Reimer, they are indeed prepping these unfortunate children to make that leap as soon as they reach the age of majority required by most "sex-change" surgeons. Don't mistakenly think the latter is any less insidious than the former: they are all child abuse.
While LifeSite's acolytes try to twist the story of David Reimer as a combination of "liberal science run amok" and evidence that treatment for transgender people is in fact unnecessary, it actually presents something quite different.

Let's consider a few facts.  First, David's cross-gender story starts when his penis was burned off in a botched circumcision.  Then, on the advice of Dr. Money, his parents chose to raise him as Brenda.  Then, as an adult Brenda transitioned to be David.

At no point in this story is there ever any evidence that David identified as female.  In fact, in John Colapinto's biography of David, there is reason to suspect that in fact Brenda fought against being treated as a girl quite strongly.

It is the fact that there is no evidence of David having ever identified as female is ironically consistent with the often described experiences of transgender people.  Where Brenda consistently fought against being raised as a girl, the trans experience of childhood is often analogous in that trans people are similarly persistent in fighting against the gender role that has been assigned to them.

The David Reimer story demonstrates more clearly than anything else that gender identity is not simply a social construct as Dr. Money suspected, but that it has much more fundamental dimensions to it that reach beyond learned constructs.

One of the accusations that the anti-Trans crowd likes to throw around is that Trans people are merely "making a choice".  Yet, if we consider David's struggle a validation of the foundational nature of gender identity, there is a problem with their logic.  If it was "just a choice", would Trans people be so consistent in describing an awareness of being Trans as part of their earliest memories?

The David Reimer case demonstrates the persistence of gender identity, and its fundamental intransigence to attempts to change it.  

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