Tuesday, May 11, 2004

For immediate release:

Victim of Circumcision Takes Own Life

The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resources Centers sadly reports the death of David Reimer, 38, who took his own life in Winnipeg last week.

David, originally named Bruce, suffered the tragic loss of his penis after a medically unnecessary circumcision caused by physician ignorance of normal penile development in childhood. Psychologists recommended that he be castrated and raised as a female. He was renamed Brenda. At puberty, he was given feminizing hormones to promote breast development and was to be subjected to sex-reassignment surgery, but an attempted suicide caused his father to tell him the truth about his true gender and the botched circumcision. Upon being told, his first question was “What was my name?”

This experiment, an attempt to overcome nature by nurturing the child into another gender, proved to be a disastrous failure. When he discovered his true identity, he insisted that he wanted to live as a male, and he chose the name David. He had a double mastectomy and surgery to construct a phallus. He later married and adopted his wife’s children.

Author John Colapinto wrote As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, revealing David’s tragic experience to the world. His horrific story has helped to reform medical practice.

David Reimer had the courage to appear on several talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, where his healthy and robust twin brother was introduced as a member of the audience.

His life took a turn for the worst in recent years. The death of his twin brother and a divorce weighed on his mind, in addition to the undoubted tragedy of his own life caused by the circumcision. He resolved to end a life of unrelenting pain.

David managed to triumph by reclaiming his gender and, by telling his story, protecting others from similar tragedy. He was an inspiration to us all. He long will be remembered as an example of the risk of terrible mutilation caused by circumcision.