“We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now-a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? ...),” it said.
It sounds more like a recipe for tragic confusion to me. In fact, the Baby Storm report reminded me of a book by John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. It is the story of David Reimer. Reimer’s family raised him as a girl. It wasn’t an experiment dreamed up by a daffy set of parents but nevertheless it was an experiment. It was devised by Dr. John Money, then on the faculty at Johns Hopkins. A terrible accident presented the opportunity for Money’s tampering.
In 1967 David Reimer, an infant, suffered a botched circumcision. For Money, a sexologist, who , who (like the unfortunate Storm’s parents) seemed to believe that sexual identity was “one’s own categorization of one’s individuality,” it was a chance to test his theories: Money urged David’s parents, also Canadians but not nearly as euphoric about the opportunity to experiment with their child as Storm’s appear to be, to raise David as a girl, Brenda.
John Colapinto, who writes for Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, and who spoke at an IWF panel on sexual identity, wrote about Brenda Reimer’s miserable “girlhood.” It is a painful read. Brenda always knew something was terribly amiss. Dressed in frilly girl’s clothes, Brenda felt like a freak. Apparently, gender identity was not so nearly as fluid for Brenda as Dr. Money fondly imagined. Reimer eventually found the truth and opted to live as a man, undergoing reconstruction surgery. He committed suicide in 2004.
When Dr. Paul McHugh (who has also spoken at IWF events) became head of the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, he put an end to the Money sex change operations. Gender experimentation would no longer be part of the department’s program.
Baby Storm’s parents aren’t trying to convince their child that he or she (for once this clumsy locution is justified) is one gender or the other–no, they are sowing a kind of confusion, based on ideas that, while still quite appealing to certain types, were discredited in the Money experiments. Let’s hope the Baby Storm experiment will be less tragic.