As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto Essay

Total Length: 1898 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

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John Colapinto's "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl", set during the sixties, tells the sad tale of an ill-fated child who was forced to lead an atypical life marked with stress, difficulties and ordeals following an early-childhood experimentation with his sexual identity. The tale is actually a true account of the late David Reimer, a Canadian who underwent a failed corrective operation for his urinary problem when he was eight months of age, ending in his penis being destroyed. This account reflects ideas and thoughts linked to sexual and gender identity, psychology, masculinity, ego and societal acceptance (BookReview, 2011).


This narrative is introduced through an interview of its key character, David Reimer, by its author, John Colapinto; when the latter starts posing tough questions, readers see the scene transitioning into a succession of events experienced by the former's mom and dad. Readers get a glimpse of how the couple met, fell in love, and ended up facing the problems that form the essence of this book (York, 2015).

"My parents feel very guilty, as if it were their fault," David explained to me during my first visit to Winnipeg. "But it wasn't like that. They did what they did out of kindness, love and desperation. When you're desperate, you don't necessarily do all the right things" (Colapinto, 2001, Preface pg. XVII).

The above paragraph transitions to Part 1 of the book, which commences with the line: "The Irony was that Ron and Janet Reimer's life together had begun with such special promise." (Pg. 3)

Rising Action

The action increases after Dr. Huot performs a messed-up surgery on the Reimers' infant son, David: "Dr. Huot said that Bruce's penis had been burned" (Pg. 14). The outcome of the operation is David going through a nightmare of a life during his early and late childhood years, being forced to grow up as a girl. Psychiatrist Mary McKenty's introduction into the Reimers' life is what brings this rising action to a stop:"It was at this critical stage in David's adolescence that Keith Sigmundson finally succeeded in placing her in the care of a new psychiatrist. A particularly gifted and empathetic one named Dr. Mary McKenty." (Pg. 150)


This tale's climax is perhaps its smallest chapter; however, concurrently, it is also the narrative's most salient section. It occurs during the course of Brenda's (i.e., David when he thought he was a girl) visits with Dr. McKenty. These therapeutic sessions gradually heal David's mind following his harrowing experiences of social rejection and mental abuse. All through the course of these sessions, he contemplates taking his own life on several occasions. However, Dr. McKenty's sessions which offer psychological healing and develop his self-confidence prevent him from taking such a drastic step. Following the entire accrual of familial tension, Janet and Ron Reimer finally reveal Brenda's real identity to the other kids. At this point, Brenda (i.e.
, David) comes to know she was, in fact, born a boy. This leads to David's decision to spend the rest of his life as a male (York, 2015).

"He told me I was born a boy," (Pg. 180)

The climactic portion culminates with David's declaration, "I've changed over, but mainly by name. The rest was all cosmetic. I just had repaired what was damaged. That's all." (Pg. 216)

Falling Action

The action subsides after David tries to live life as a male. He led his whole life thinking and acting like a girl; suddenly, he takes up the task of living like a boy. But, unsurprisingly, he blends better into society as a male. The exposition's commencement represents a tricky question and readers may decide that this part ends with the author citing a similar case of John Money's, where he attempted another failed gender transformation (John Money is the individual who helped David transform from male to female and back) (York, 2015).

"Meanwhile, David tried to come to terms with his new life," (Pg. 195). "It was only in my closing moments of my interview with Zucker, after I had turned off my tape recorder, that he let fall that the paper had another silent collaborator- an investigator who, when notified of the researchers' efforts, had hastened to supply records he had gathered on the patient in her early childhood. The investigator was John Money, who had authorized and overseen the patient's sex reassignment in infancy and who had, true to practice conducted a number of annual follow-ups with the child until she (for reasons unspecified in Zucker's paper) stopped returning to Johns Hopkins" (Pg. 252).

The biography's exposition commences when David is successfully able to navigate through his new life and find happiness. Normalcy is restored for him when he weds Jane, with whom he has three kids. But the tale's end is not clear on where the subsiding action ends. While the story continues, the start is clear. The end (i.e., the novel's final words) reveals to readers that despite his errors and failed attempts at achieving the impossible, John Money remains ever-ready to walk that path again, even after facing censure for his part in ruining clients' lives (York, 2015).


"He said, 'Will you marry me?' (Pg. 195)


"The psychologist who consulted on Baby Doe's case-five years after David announced his decision to live as a male- was Dr. John Money" (Pg. 276).


This story is rife with external as well as internal conflicts. They involve several discussions and choices that impacted fourteen years of David's….....

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BookReview. (2011). Retrieved from Best Writing Service:

Colapinto, J. (2001). As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.HarperCollins: New York.

York, E. (2015). As Nature Made Him: A Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl. Retrieved from Prezi:

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