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John Money

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John Money
John Money.jpg
John William Money

(1921-07-08)8 July 1921
Died7 July 2006(2006-07-07) (aged 84)
Alma materVictoria University of Wellington
Harvard University
Scientific career
InstitutionsJohns Hopkins University

John William Money (8 July 1921 – 7 July 2006) was a New Zealand psychologist, sexologist and author known for his research into sexual identity and biology of gender. He was one of the first researchers to publish theories on the influence of societal constructs of gender on individual formation of gender identity. Money introduced the terms gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation and popularised the term paraphilia.[1][2]

Working with endocrinologist Claude Migeon, Money established the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, the first clinic in the United States to perform sexual reassignment surgeries on both infants and adults.[3] He spent a considerable amount of his career in the United States.

A 1997 academic study criticised Money's work in many respects, particularly in regard to the involuntary sex-reassignment of the child David Reimer.[4] Reimer committed suicide at 38 and his brother died of an overdose at 36. Some of Money's therapy sessions involved sexual activity between the two brothers.

Money's writing has been translated into many languages and includes around 2,000 articles, books, chapters and reviews. He received around 65 honours, awards and degrees in his lifetime.[1] He was also a patron of many famous New Zealand artists, such as Rita Angus and Theo Schoon.[5]


Money was born in Morrinsville, New Zealand, to a Protestant[6] family of English and Welsh descent.[7] He attended Hutt Valley High School[8] and initially studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington,[9] graduating with a double master's degree in psychology and education in 1944.[10][11] He was a junior member of the psychology faculty at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Author Janet Frame attended some of Money's classes at the University of Otago as part of her teacher training. In October 1945, after Frame wrote an essay mentioning her thoughts of suicide,[12] John Money facilitated Frame's committal to the psychiatric ward at Dunedin Public Hospital, leading to eight years in psychiatric institutions.[13] In Frame's autobiography, An Angel at My Table, Money is referred to as John Forrest.[12] In 1947, at the age of 26, he emigrated to the United States to study at the Psychiatric Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. He left Pittsburgh and earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1952. He was married briefly in the 1950s but had no children.[citation needed]

Money proposed and developed several theories and related terminology, including gender identity, gender role,[14] gender-identity/role and lovemap. He popularised the term paraphilia (appearing in the DSM-III, which would later replace perversions) and introduced the term sexual orientation in place of sexual preference, arguing that attraction is not necessarily a matter of free choice.[1][2]

Money was a professor of paediatrics and medical psychology at Johns Hopkins University from 1951 until his death. Between 1960 and 1961, he co-authored two papers with Richard Green, "Incongruous Gender Role: Nongenital Manifestations in Prepubertal Boys" and "Effeminacy in Prepubertal Boys: Summary of Eleven Cases and Recommendations for Case Management."

Money established the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in 1965 along with Claude Migeon who was the head of paediatric endocrinology at Johns Hopkins. The hospital began performing sexual reassignment surgery in 1966, and was the first clinic in the United States to do so.[3][15][16] At Johns Hopkins, Money was also involved with the Sexual Behaviors Unit, which ran studies on sex-reassignment surgery. In 2002 he received the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal from the German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research.

Money was also an early supporter of New Zealand's arts, both literary and visual. In 2002, as his Parkinson's disease worsened, Money donated a substantial portion of his art collection to the Eastern Southland Art Gallery in Gore, New Zealand.[17] In 2003, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, opened the John Money wing at the Eastern Southland Gallery.[18]

Money died 7 July 2006, one day before his 85th birthday, in Towson, Maryland,[19] of complications from Parkinson's disease.[20]

Books on sexology

Money co-edited a 1969 book Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment, which helped bring more acceptance to sexual reassignment surgery and transsexual individuals.

Money introduced numerous definitions related to gender in journal articles in the 1950s, many of them as a result of his studies of intersex morphology. His definition of gender is based on his understanding of sex differences among human beings. According to Money, the fact that one sex produces ova and the other sex produces sperm is the irreducible criterion of sex difference. However, there are other sex-derivative differences that follow in the wake of this primary dichotomy. These differences involve the way urine is expelled from the human body and other questions of sexual dimorphism. According to Money's theory, sex-adjunctive differences are typified by the smaller size of females and their problems in moving around while nursing infants. This then makes it more likely that the males do the roaming and hunting.[citation needed]

Sex-arbitrary differences are those that are purely conventional: for example, colour selection (baby blue for boys, pink for girls). Some of the latter differences apply to life activities, such as career opportunities for men versus women. Finally, Money created the now-common term gender role which he differentiated from the concept of the more traditional terminology sex role. This grew out of his studies of intersex people. According to Money, the genitalia and erotic sexual roles were now, by his definition, to be included under the more general term "gender role" including all the non-genital and non-erotic activities that are defined by the conventions of society to apply to males or to females.

In his studies of intersex people, Money found that there are six variables that define sex. While in the average person all six would line up unequivocally as either all "male" or "female", in hermaphrodites any one or more than one of these could be inconsistent with the others, leading to various kinds of anomalies. In his seminal 1955 paper he defined these factors as:[21]

  1. assigned sex and sex of rearing
  2. external genital morphology
  3. internal reproductive structures
  4. hormonal and secondary sex characteristics
  5. gonadal sex
  6. chromosomal sex

and added,

"Patients showing various combinations and permutations of these six sexual variables may be appraised with respect to a seventh variable: 7. Gender role and orientation as male or female, established while growing up."[21]

He then defined gender role as;

"all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively. It includes, but is not restricted to sexuality in the sense of eroticism. Gender role is appraised in relation to the following: general mannerisms, deportment and demeanor; play preferences and recreational interests; spontaneous topics of talk in unprompted conversation and casual comment; content of dreams, daydreams and fantasies; replies to oblique inquiries and projective tests; evidence of erotic practices, and, finally, the person's own replies to direct inquiry."[21]

Money made the concept of gender a broader, more inclusive concept than one of masculine/feminine. For him, gender included not only one's status as a man or a woman, but was also a matter of personal recognition, social assignment, or legal determination; not only on the basis of one's genitalia but also on the basis of somatic and behavioural criteria that go beyond genital differences. In 1972, Money presented his theories in Man and Woman, Boy and Girl, a college level textbook. The book featured David Reimer as an example of gender reassignment.[citation needed]

In his book Gay, Straight and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation, Money develops a conception of "bodymind".[22] "Bodymind" is a way for scientists, in developing a science about sexuality, to move on from the platitudes of dichotomy between nature versus nurture, innate versus the acquired, biological versus the social, and psychological versus the physiological. He suggested that all of these capitalise on the ancient, pre-Platonic, pre-biblical conception of body versus the mind, and the physical versus the spiritual. In coining the term "bodymind", in this sense, Money wishes to move beyond these very ingrained principles of our folk or vernacular psychology.

Money also developed a view of "Concepts of Determinism" which, transcultural, transhistorical, and universal, all people have in common, sexologically or otherwise.[23] These include pairbondage, troopbondage, abidance, ycleptance, foredoomance, with these coping strategies: adhibition (engagement), inhibition, explication. Money suggested that the concept of "threshold"[24] – the release or inhibition of sexual (or other) behavior – is most useful for sex research as a substitute for any concept of motivation. Moreover, it confers the distinct advantage of having continuity and unity to what would otherwise be a highly disparate and varied field of research. It also allows for the classification of sexual behavior. For Money, the concept of threshold has great value because of the wide spectrum to which it applies. "It allows one to think developmentally or longitudinally, in terms of stages or experiences that are programmed serially, or hierarchically, or cybernetically (i.e. regulated by mutual feedback)."[22]


Sex reassignment of David Reimer

During his professional life, Money was respected as an expert on sexual behavior, especially known for his views that gender was learned rather than innate. However, it was later revealed that his most famous case of David Reimer, born Bruce Reimer, was fundamentally flawed.[25] In 1966, a botched circumcision left eight-month-old Reimer without a penis. Money persuaded the baby's parents that sex reassignment surgery would be in Reimer's best interest. At the age of 22 months, Reimer underwent an orchiectomy, in which his testicles were surgically removed. He was reassigned to be raised as female and his name changed from Bruce to Brenda. Money further recommended hormone treatment, to which the parents agreed. Money then recommended a surgical procedure to create an artificial vagina, which the parents refused. Money published a number of papers reporting the reassignment as successful.

According to John Colapinto's biography of David Reimer, starting when Reimer and his twin Brian were six years old, Money showed the brothers pornography and forced the two to rehearse sexual acts, with David playing the bottom role as Brian "[pressed] his crotch against" David's buttocks.[26][27] Money also forced the two children to strip for "genital inspections", and on one occasion took a photo.[26] Colapinto speculates that Money's rationale for these treatments may have been his belief that "childhood 'sexual rehearsal play'" was important for a "healthy adult gender identity".[26]

For several years, Money reported on Reimer's progress as the "John/Joan case", describing apparently successful female gender development and using this case to support the feasibility of sex reassignment and surgical reconstruction even in non-intersex cases. Notes by a former student at Money's laboratory state that, during the yearly follow-up visits, Reimer's parents routinely lied to staff about the success of the procedure.[failed verification] When Money learned about this, he continued to misrepresent the results as a success for decades. By the time this was discovered, the idea of a purely socially constructed gender identity and infant Intersex medical interventions had become the accepted medical and sociological standard.[28]

At 14 years old and in extreme psychological agony, Reimer was finally told the truth by his parents. He chose to begin calling himself David, and he underwent surgical procedures to revert the female bodily modifications.[29]

David Reimer's case came to international attention in 1997 when he told his story to Milton Diamond, an academic sexologist, who persuaded Reimer to allow him to report the outcome in order to dissuade physicians from treating other infants similarly.[30] Soon after, Reimer went public with his story, and John Colapinto published a widely disseminated and influential account in Rolling Stone magazine in December 1997.[31] This was later expanded into The New York Times best-selling biography As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (2000),[32] in which Colapinto described how—contrary to Money's reports—when living as Brenda, Reimer did not identify as a girl. He was ostracised and bullied by peers (who dubbed him "cavewoman"),[33][34] and neither frilly dresses[35] nor female hormones made him feel female.

On 1 July 2002, Brian was found dead from an overdose of antidepressants. On 4 May 2004, after suffering years of severe depression, financial instability, and marital troubles,[36] David committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a sawed-off shotgun at the age of 38. Reimer's parents have stated that Money's methodology was responsible for the deaths of both of their sons.[37]

Money argued that media response to Diamond's exposé was due to right-wing media bias and "the antifeminist movement." He said his detractors believed "masculinity and femininity are built into the genes so women should get back to the mattress and the kitchen".[38] However, intersex activists also criticised Money, stating that the unreported failure had led to the surgical reassignment of thousands of infants as a matter of policy.[39] Privately, Money was mortified by the case, colleagues said, and as a rule did not discuss it.[40]

Opinions on paedophilia

Money participated in debates on chronophilias, especially paedophilia.[41] He stated that both sexual researchers and the public do not make distinctions between affectional paedophilia and sadistic paedophilia. Money asserted that affectional paedophilia was about love and not sex.

If I were to see the case of a boy aged ten or eleven who's intensely erotically attracted toward a man in his twenties or thirties, if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual [...] then I would not call it pathological in any way.[42][43]

Money held the view that affectional paedophilia is caused by a surplus of parental love that became erotic, and is not a behavioural disorder. Rather, he took the position that heterosexuality is another example of a societal and therefore superficial, ideological concept.[42][43]


Researcher Mary Anne Case wrote that Money made "fraudulently deceptive claims about the malleability of gender in certain patients who had involuntarily undergone sex reassignment surgery" and that this fueled the anti-gender movement.[44]


  • Money, John. (1952). Hermaphroditism: An Inquiry into the Nature of a Human Paradox. Thesis (Ph.D.), Harvard University.
  • Money, John, and Patricia Tucker. (1975). Sexual Signatures on Being a Man or a Woman. Little Brown & Co: ISBN 0-316-57825-8
  • Money, John. (1985). The Destroying Angel. Prometheus. ISBN 0-879-75277-7
  • Money, John. (1986). Venuses Penuses. Prometheus. ISBN 978-0879753276
  • Money, John. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition in Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Irvington. ISBN 0-8264-0852-4
  • Money, John. (1988) Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505407-5
  • Money, John. (1989). Vandalized Lovemaps: Paraphilic Outcome of 7 Cases in Pediatric Sexology. Prometheus Books: ISBN 0-87975-513-X
  • Money, John. (1994). Sex Errors of the Body and Related Syndromes: A Guide to Counseling Children, Adolescents, and Their Families , 2nd ed. Baltimore: P.H. Brooks Publishing Company. ISBN 1-55766-150-2
  • Money, John. (1995). Gendermaps: Social Constructionism, Feminism, and Sexosophical History. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-0852-4
  • Money, John, and Anke Ehrhardt. (1996). Man & Woman, Boy & Girl: Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson. Originally published: 1972 ISBN 0-8018-1406-5
  • Money, John. (1999). The Lovemap Guidebook: A Definitive Statement. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-1203-3

See also

  • Comprachicos
  • Intersexion – the impact of Money's theories on the treatment of intersex people is featured in this documentary


  1. ^ a b c Ehrhardt, Anke A. (August 2007). "John Money, PhD". The Journal of Sex Research. 44 (3): 223–224. doi:10.1080/00224490701580741. JSTOR 20620298. PMID 3050136. S2CID 147344556.
  2. ^ a b Tosh, Jemma (25 July 2014). Perverse Psychology: The pathologization of sexual violence and transgenderism. Routledge. ISBN 9781317635444.
  3. ^ a b Bullough, Vern (2003). "The Contributions of John Money: A Personal View". The Journal of Sex Research. Taylor and Francis, Ltd. 40 (3): 230–236. doi:10.1080/00224490309552186. JSTOR 3813317. PMID 14533016. S2CID 22122271.
  4. ^ Diamond, M; Sigmundson, HK (1997). "Sex reassignment at birth. Long-term review and clinical implications". Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 151 (3): 298–304. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170400084015. PMID 9080940.
  5. ^ "John Money Collection". Eastern Southland Gallery.
  6. ^ The Man Who Invented Gender: Engaging the Ideas of John Money. UBC Press. January 2014. p. 17. ISBN 9780774827942.
  7. ^ "John William Money, PhD, 1921–2006". Program in Human Sexuality, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  8. ^ "NZ psychologist silent on former patient". 12 May 2004 – via
  9. ^ "Kiwi sexologist dies in US hospital". The New Zealand Herald. 10 July 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.
  10. ^ "John Money, PhD". Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  11. ^ Money, John William (1 January 1944), Career or culture? : a study of the relation of vocation & culture in education, Open Access Repository Victoria University of Wellington, doi:10.26686/WGTN.17061158, Wikidata Q111966288
  12. ^ a b Evans, Patrick (2010). "Frame, Janet Paterson". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  13. ^ Janet, Frame (2015). An Angel at My Table. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9780349006697.
  14. ^ Diamond, Milton (2004). "Sex, gender, and identity over the years: a changing perspective". Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 13 (3): 591–607. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2004.02.008. PMID 15183375. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008.
  15. ^ Day, Meagan (15 November 2016). "How one of America's best medical schools started a secret transgender surgery clinic". Medium. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  16. ^ "As Nature Made Him". 27 February 2021. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  17. ^ Brewington, Kelly (9 July 2006). "Dr. John Money 1921–2006: Hopkins pioneer in gender identity". Baltimore Sun.
  18. ^ Office of the Prime Minister (12 December 2003). "PM opens new wing at Eastern Southland Gallery" (Press release). Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  19. ^ Highleyman, Liz (3 August 2006). "Sex researcher John Money dies". The Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  20. ^ Fitzgerald, John Warner (9 July 2006). "Obituaries in the News". Fox News. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  21. ^ a b c Money, John; Hampson, Joan G; Hampson, John (October 1955). "An Examination of Some Basic Sexual Concepts: The Evidence of Human Hermaphroditism". Bull. Johns Hopkins Hosp. Johns Hopkins University. 97 (4): 301–19. PMID 13260820.
  22. ^ a b Money 1988, p. 116.
  23. ^ Money 1988, pp. 114–119.
  24. ^ Money 1988, p. 115.
  25. ^ "Dr. Money and the Boy With No Penis". Horizon. Season 41. Episode 8. 4 November 2004. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  26. ^ a b c  ———  (2001b). As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. New York: Harper Perennial (published 2006). p. 86-88. ISBN 978-0-06-092959-6.
  27. ^ "Being Brenda". the Guardian. 12 May 2004. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  28. ^ Puluka, Anne (2015). "Parent versus State: Protecting Intersex Children from Cosmetic Genital Surgery". Michigan State Law Review. 2015: 2095.
  29. ^ Ogas, Ogi (2013). "A billion wicked thoughts: What the internet reveals about sexual desire". PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e638152013-018. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  30. ^ Diamond, Milton; Sigmundson, HK (March 1997). "Sex reassignment at birth. Long-term review and clinical implications". Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 151 (3): 298–304. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170400084015. PMID 9080940. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  31. ^ Colapinto, John (11 December 1997). "The True Story of John/Joan". Rolling Stone. pp. 54–97. Archived from the original on 15 August 2000. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  32. ^ Koch 2017, p. 143.
  33. ^ "Health Check: The Boy Who Was Raised a Girl". BBC News. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  34. ^ Karkazis 2008, p. 74.
  35. ^ Colapinto 2001, p. 115; Warnke 2008, p. 21.
  36. ^ "David Reimer, 38, Subject of the John/Joan Case". The New York Times. 12 May 2004. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  37. ^ "Born a Boy, Raised as a Girl" Documentary, The Learning Channel
  38. ^ Walker, Jesse (24 May 2004). The Death of David Reimer: A tale of sex, science, and abuse. Reason
  39. ^ Who was David Reimer (also, sadly, known as "John/Joan")? via Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 10 July 2006.
  40. ^ Carey, Benedict (11 July 2006). John William Money, 84, Sexual Identity Researcher, Dies, The New York Times
  41. ^ Janssen, Diederik (2017). "John Money's "Chronophilia": Untimely Sex between Philias and Phylisms". Sexual Offender Treatment. 12 (1).
  42. ^ a b Interview: John Money. PAIDIKA: The Journal of Paedophilia, Spring 1991, vol. 2, no. 3, p. 5.
  43. ^ a b Colapinto, John (December 1997). "The True Story of John / Joan" (PDF). Rolling Stone. pp. 54–97.
  44. ^ Case, Mary Anne (2019). "Trans Formations in the Vatican's War on 'Gender Ideology'". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. University of Chicago Press. 44 (3): 639–664. doi:10.1086/701498. ISSN 0097-9740. S2CID 149472746.

Further reading

External links