John Money

John William Money (8 July 1921 – 7 July, 2006) was a psychologist and sexologist well-known for his research into sexual identity and biology of gender. Money identified several influential concepts and terms during his career, including gender identity, gender role, gender-identity/role, and lovemap. He was awarded in the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal in 2002 from the "German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research", who he worked for.

Money was a professor of pediatrics and medical psychology at Johns Hopkins University from 1951 until his death. While there Money was involved with the Sexual Behaviors Unit, which ran studies on sex reassignment surgery.

Money is best-known for his involvement in the sex reassignment of David Reimer, in what later became known as the "John/Joan" case. Money reported that he successfully reassigned Reimer as female after a botched 1966 infant circumcision. In 1997, Milton Diamond reported that the reassignment had failed, that Reimer had never identified as female or behaved typically feminine. At age 14, Reimer refused to see Money again, threatening suicide if he were made to go. Reimer began living as male, and at 15, with a different medical team, he sought a mastectomy, testosterone therapy and a phalloplasty. Later he married a woman who had children from a previous marriage and lived as a man until his suicide at age 38.


Born in Morrinsville, New Zealand to a Brethren family, Money initially studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with a double master's degree at the end of 1944. He emigrated to the United States in 1947 to study at the Psychiatric Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. He left Pittsburgh and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1952. He was married briefly in the 1950s and had no children.

Money was an early supporter of New Zealand's arts, both literary and visual. He was a noted friend and supporter of author Janet Frame. 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.

Money died following hospitalization in Towson, Maryland.

Sexological work

Sexual identity, gender identity and gender roles

Money's 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. Sex-arbitrary differences are those that are purely conventional; for example, color 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. 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.

Money made the concept of gender a broader, more inclusive concept than one of male/female. Now, gender includes not only one's status as a man or a woman, but as 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 behavioral criteria that go beyond genital differences.

Gender identity is one's own categorization of one's individuality as male, female, or ambivalent as experienced in self-awareness of one's own mental processes and one's own actual behavior.

Gender role is the public manifestation of one's gender identity, the things that one says and that one does that gives people a basis for inferring whether one is male, female, or fits neither of those categories.

To stress the idea that gender identity and gender role are two aspects of the same thing, Money coined a new term: Gender-Identity/Role, which he frequently abbreviated as "G-I/R."

Money also coined the term lovemap.

In 1972, Money presented his theories in Man & Woman, Boy & Girl, a college-level, mainstream textbook. The book featured David Reimer (see below) as a case in point.

"Gay, Straight and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation"

In this book (Oxford 1988: 116), Money develops a conception of 'bodymind,' as 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 suggests that all of these capitalize on the ancient, pre-Platonic, prebiblical 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 develops here (Oxford 1988: 114-119) a view of "Concepts of Determinism," which, transcultural, transhistorical, and universal, all people have in common, sexologically or otherwise. These include pairbondage, troopbondage, abidance, ycleptance, foredoomance, with these coping strategies: adhibition (engagement), inhibition, explication.

Money suggests that the concept of threshold (Oxford 1988: 115) - the release or inhibition of sexual (or other) behavior - is most useful for sex research as a substitute for any concept of motivation. It confers a great of advantage of continuity and unity, to what would otherwise be disparate and varied. 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)." (Oxford 1988: 116)

In this book, Money (1988: 127-128) suggests that love is like a Rorschach (ink blot) test, where if projections (shaped by a bodymind's lovemap) on the other are mutual, pair-bonding occurs, typically in a courtship phase of mating.

David Reimer

Money's ideas relating to gender and gender identity formation have come under intense criticism in the scientific community. Money argued that a child's gender identity is fluid up to a certain age, after which this gender would become consolidated and more-or-less immutable. This theory was applied in the case of a male child, David Reimer, whose penis was destroyed due to a botched circumcision. This came to be known as the John/Joan case. The child was subsequently sexually reassigned as female. However, even though David Reimer was raised as a girl and never knew his early history, he behaved in a masculine way appropriate to a boy while he was a young child. Later attempts to socialize him as a girl failed. In 1997, Milton Diamond and Keith Sigmundson authored a followup of the Reimer case, suggesting that future cases be managed in light of what occurred.

As for Reimer, when he finally reached the age to make his own medical decisions, he was so distressed by Money's demand for further surgery to complete his "female" genitals, that his parents decided to reveal his medical history to him. He immediately re-transitioned to a male gender role and later underwent genital reassignment surgery again, in order to complete his male gender identity with male genitalia. He underwent four rounds of reconstructive surgery to facilitate his reappropriation of the male sex. Towards the end of his life he lost his job, was separated from his wife, failed a financial investment, and mourned the death of his twin brother Brian, who died in an accidental drug overdose. He committed suicide on May 5 2004. John Colapinto, who publicised Reimer's story in a Rolling Stone article and the book As Nature Made Him, speculated that Reimer never psychologically recovered from his childhood trauma:

Reimer said Money sexually abused him and his brother during superfluous photo shoots. This added stress did not help Reimer and instilled in him a fear of Money and his medical "expertise." A 20/20 interview contains this primary source.

Money claimed that media response to the exposť was due to right-wing media bias and "the antifeminist movement." He claimed his detractors believed "masculinity and femininity are built into the genes so women should get back to the mattress and the kitchen." However, intersex activists also criticized Money, stating that the unreported failure had led to the surgical reassignment of thousands of infants as a matter of policy. Privately, Money was mortified by the case, colleagues said, and as a rule did not discuss it. Money's own views also developed and changed over the years.

Johns Hopkins University maintains a Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, or SBCU). The Psychiatry Department, however, has concluded that gender identity is primarily innate, and the university no longer performs sex change operations for adults with sexual dysphoria.

On pedophilia

John Money was critical in the debate on pedophilia. He felt that both sexual researchers and the public do not make distinctions between affectional pedophilia and sadistic pedophilia, including infantophilia (occasionally referred to as nepiophilia), pedophilia and ephebophilia. For Money, affectional pedophilia is about love and not sex.

His view was that affectional pedophilia is caused by a surplus of parental love that became erotic, and is not a behavioral disorder. Rather, he felt that heterosexuality is another example of a societal and therefore, a superficial, ideological concept.


External links


Ehrhardt, Anke A. 'John Money, Ph.D.' Journal of Sex Research 44 (2007): 1-2.

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