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Just how did Cal Cunningham -- a twenty-five-year-old bookstore stockboy who is new to Manhattan and who has never written anything -- publish a bestselling novel that sells to the movies for a million dollars?A mysterious roommate, a timely bike accident, and the rapacious literary agent Blackie Yaeger all play a role in Cal's success.Deception, blackmail, and murder all play a role in his desperate bid to hold on to it.And About the Author is his first-person account of how he performed this remarkable feat.
In 1967, after a baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment. On the advice of a renowned expert in gender identity and sexual reassignment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the boy was surgically altered to live as a girl. This landmark case, initially reported to be a complete success, seemed all the more remarkable since the child had been born an identical twin: his uninjured brother, raised as a boy, provided to the experiment the perfect matched control. The so-called twins case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine and the social sciences; cited repeatedly over the past thirty years as living proof that our sense of being male or female is not inborn but primarily the result of how we are raised. The case was a failure from the outset because the twin struggled against his imposed girlhood. At fourteen, when told of his medical history, he made the decision to live as a male. John Colapinto tells this extraordinary story for the first time inAs Nature Made Him. The human intimacy of the story is all the greater for the subject's courageous decision to step out from behind the pseudonym that has shrouded his identity for the past thirty years.
Brian and Bruce Reimer were born as normal identical twin boys. At 8 months of age, they developed a urinary problem, which their Winnipeg hospital said could be easily cured via circumcision. The day they were scheduled for that, a doctor who did not normally do this procedure was in charge. As a result, Bruce lost his penis altogether. Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins Hospital, who had been treating intersexed babies by genital surgery, saw this as the perfect empirical study of nurture over nature. These were developmentally-normal identical twin boys. Following this, Bruce was castrated, his name changed to Brenda and he was raised as a girl. However, Brenda's personality did not conform, no matter how much the family and others tried to nurture the child as a girl. Neither twin was told of their background. In their early teens, Brenda rebelled. Eventually, she was told the truth and felt "normal", she was indeed the boy she had always felt internally. She changed her name to David, as one who slew the incomparably-sized Goliath. The rest of the book tells how David's life developed from there forward to adulthood, marriage, and fatherhood. It also covers Dr. Money's cover-up of the study results as not the positive picture he had reported consistently over the years, and details his downfall in the medical profession. Of note, is that the study, which was reported as successful nurture over nature, was constantly used in feminist rhetoric at the time about gender roles. Money was also an early co-founder of the Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins, involved with transsexual procedures. The author began this investigation for a Rolling Stone magazine article. Later, David Reimer decided to let his story become public for the education of others, and asked Colapinto to do the writing. There are three vulgar sex terms, minor description of pornographic pictures used by the doctor, and a few uses of the word "God."
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