Becoming Nicole


Amy Ellis Nutt

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An individual whom Nutt references as an example of what can happen when a person is forced to embody a different gender identity than the one they feel is right for them. Bruce was a baby who had a cauterization as an infant to correct an obstruction, but his penis was accidentally burned off by this procedure. A psychologist, Dr. John Money, counseled his parents to simply raise Bruce as “Brenda” and give her female hormones. Despite her parent’s efforts, Brenda became suicidal, never feeling nor acting female. When she was finally told the truth, she transitioned back to a male identity, took on the name David, and had multiple surgeries to remove breasts and rebuild a penis. David married and adopted children but was tortured by what happened to him and committed suicide in 2004 at age 38.
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Bruce/David Reimer Character Timeline in Becoming Nicole

The timeline below shows where the character Bruce/David Reimer appears in Becoming Nicole. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14: The Xs and Ys of Sex
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Money’s most well-known example was a child born in August 1965: a baby boy named Bruce. A cauterization to correct an obstruction accidentally burned off Bruce’s penis as an infant. Money... (full context)
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and the Scientific Community Theme Icon
Brenda renamed himself David Reimer and had a mastectomy, testosterone injections, and phalloplasty surgeries to rebuild... (full context)
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and the Scientific Community Theme Icon
Gradually, it became more accepted that gender is innate, but Reimer’s case did not explain how there could be a disconnect between anatomy and gender identity.... (full context)