August 6, 2006 by

John Money


Categories: Business, Medicine, Writers/Editors

Dr. John William Money, a sex researcher and the co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, died on July 7 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.

Born in Morrinsville, New Zealand, Money studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his doctorate at Harvard University after writing a thesis paper on hermaphroditism.

Money was the first pediatric psychoendocrinologist at Johns Hopkins University. He designed the school’s curriculum in sexual medicine and served as a professor of medical psychology and pediatrics for 50 years. In the mid-1960s, Money co-founded the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic with Reed Erickson, a wealthy philanthropist and female-to-male transsexual, and performed one of the first sex reassignment surgeries in the United States.

Money soon gained a reputation as an expert in the sex reassignment field, and was frequently called to testify in court that such surgery was appropriate therapy for people suffering from gender identity disorder. Also known as transsexualism, GID is a psychological condition where a person experiences “strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.”

Money believed that gender identity was determined by environment and upbringing as well as biology, and thus could be changed in the first few years of a person’s life. He promoted genital surgery to make intersex infants look more “normal” and social conditioning to alter their gender belief systems. Money put these theories to the test on David Reimer, a Canadian boy who suffered from a botched circumcision operation when he was 8 months old. Money persuaded Reimer’s parents to turn him into a girl, and so David underwent a radical sex-change procedure. He was given female hormones and psychologically trained into believing he was a girl named Brenda.

The experiment was widely considered a success in medical circles. Money published several journal articles about the case, as well as the book, “Man and Woman, Boy and Girl” with Anke Ehrhardt. However, Reimer suffered greatly as the guinea pig in Money’s research project. He was teased by classmates, confused by his gender identity and clinically depressed for many years. After learning the truth of his past, Reimer underwent surgery and testosterone therapy. He changed his name to David and returned to living as a man.

Reimer’s life story served as the basis of John Colapinto’s 2000 book, “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” He appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and in several documentaries in order to save other children from a similar fate. In 2004, Reimer committed suicide at the age of 38.

Despite criticism from the media, psychologists, scholars and other members of the medical community about the Reimer case, Money refused to alter his gender identity theories. “I don’t mind being wrong a few times because I’m right most of the time,” Money said.

The controversial researcher also theorized about the origins of sexual orientation (which he believed were formed by both biological and environmental factors), and on the nature of attraction (what he called “love maps”). In his testimony before Attorney General Edwin Meese’s pornography commission in 1985, Money stated that sexually explicit photographs and films were not detrimental to minors. That same year, he received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology.

In 2002, Money entrusted his personal collection of papers and published works to the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, and established the John Money Sexology Scholars Library Fund to help pay for the preservation of archives and collections from the sexological community.

Listen to a Remembrance From NPR
Diggbutton.jpg Digg This

16 Responses to John Money

  1. Joanne Johnson

    I met John Money when he was at Reed Ericksons mansion in Matzatlan when it was decided that Reed would be flown to John Hopkins Hospital for medical treatment in 1977. The events of the two months I spent at Reed Ericksons mansion at that time were so out of the ordinary that I do not think I will ever come to a conclusion about what it was that happened. I feel honored to have been there at a significate time and am saddened that John and Reed broke relations as a result of what happened. I have photos that were taken there and show them to friends explaining that I had experienced a once in a lifetime adventure.

  2. dean

    This is proof that doctors are human and make mistakes. When a person does wrong and doesn’t admit to wrongdoing, that is a BAD person! If you’re not confident with your doctor, see another! John Money disgraced the whole profession of psychology. He will always be remembered as a QUACK!


    I hope this man and all his supporter rot in hell. This man should be recognized for his tragic failures.Those who suffered, because of his warped mind should recognized and honored.

  4. M. Fantini

    This was a man who should have been stripped of his licence and prosecuted for wilfully orchestrating overwelming suffering, despair,suicidal death, and the total destruction of many lives all to prove his point – which his frankensteinal experiment on the Reimer twins undeniably disproved! I don’t understand how others in a medical authority could condone what he was doing. I am glad he’s dead.

  5. Cynthia Majors

    Based on everything I’ve studied about the case cited in “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” I think , for all the damage done to both twins during Dr Money’s “Therapy” sessions, buring in hell would be letting him off too lightly.
    I can only hope and pray that David Reimer finally found some peace.

  6. Jackie Smith RN

    I just finished reading As Nature Made Him and am so saddened to now find out about David Reimer’s suicide. Dr. John Money was obviously just another sexual pervert who plaqued the human race. His “credentials” enabled him to pull the wool over the eyes of intelligent professionals and heartbroken parents with his answer of what to do for babies with genital trauma or sexual ambiguity. May the “disguinished” Dr. Money truly be rotting in hell and may his earthly name be recalled only in horror for the suffering he brought apon David Reimer, his family, and countless other babies who’s sex and lives were negatively altered by Money’s ignorantly swift sword.

  7. Ana

    All the awards he got should have been taken away & thrown to the garbage basket. I don’t understand how many people was so hypnotized & afraid of this man, he was just another human being claiming he knew everything! NO ONE knows eveything!! he was nothing but a sick perv.
    I also agree with the post that says that all his money should have gone directly to the Reimer’s account.

  8. Marie

    John Money was a great man in his field, I’ve met before my SRS, he was very honest with me and MY PARENTS, about what I was going face for the rest of my life, he was right, its hard to face a messed up world we live in, I had my SRS in 79, I will always remember that I gained more than I had lost. You, the ones who call us “freaks” I am a very proud woman today, and have many loving people around me.Do you?

  9. NadineDeck

    Dr. Money was a great man who decided to act and save peoples lives and make them so much better, not everything in this world is perfect. David Reimers case was one in five hundred that was not a sucess he tryed to fix someones mistake and it dident work but for the many hundreds of people he did treat they have good lives, YES David was a tradgey.Its so easy for some of you to be critical because you read a book but talk to the many who have had loving caring lives. Because this man did what he thought was right. I am one xxy individual who will honor his memory.
    Thank you Dr. John Money
    Respectfully Nadine Deck

  10. Tami

    I remember him for his Gucci loafers…I spent time with Dr Money in Williamsburg VA and he was a gentle sweet man whom I don’t believe had a bad bone in his body. He suffered from weaknesses like all humans but tried to become a better man.

  11. Heidi W

    This was a man who should have been stripped of his licence and prosecuted for wilfully orchestrating overwelming suffering, despair,suicidal death, and the total destruction of many lives all to prove his point – which his frankensteinal experiment on the Reimer twins undeniably disproved! I don’t understand how others in a medical authority could condone what he was doing. I am glad he’s dead.
    Posted by M. Fantini on January 13, 2010 8:45 PM
    I couldn’t say it any better. So I repost Fantini’s response in hope that Johns Hopkins somehow reimburses the parents for their continued and never-ending suffering. I know look at Johns Hopkins in a different light.

  12. Fuatino

    Dr John Money is such an awful human being. Though I do no know him personally, he never admitted he was wrong or apologised to David Reimer or his family. I wonder what he saw before death grabbed him. Thank God he’s not acknowledged here in NZ. What an arrogant individual

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *