As Nature Made Him
'John stood up at a conference and said, "I've got these two twins, and one of them is now a girl, and the other is a boy." They were saying they took this normal boy and changed him over to a girl. That's powerful. That's really powerful. I mean, what is your response to that? This case was used to reinforce the fact that you can really do anything. You can take a normal XY male and convert it into a female in the neonatal period, and it won't make any difference.' Grumbach adds, 'John Money is a major figure, and what he says gets handed down and accepted as gospel by some.'
But not all. Mickey Diamond had continued his research into how the sexual nervous system organized before birth, and his studies had only strengthened his conviction that neither intersexual nor normal children were born psychosexually neutral—a conviction that would make him view with alarm the burgeoning practice of infant sex reassignment. And he was more convinced than ever that converting a normal infant from one sex to the other would be impossible. 'But I didn't have any evidence to disprove the twins case at the time,' Diamond says. 'I didn't have anything except a theoretical argument to challenge it.' He vowed to follow the case closely—a decision, he says, that was made from purely scientific motives. If, however, Diamond also by now felt a degree of personal involvement in his theoretical dispute with Money, that was perhaps understandable. For in the chapter directly following his account of the twins case in Man & Woman, Boy & Girl, Money had lashed out at Diamond and the others who had challenged his classic papers. Restating his own position. Money had acidly observed; 'It would not have been necessary to belabor this point, except that some writers still don't understand it,' and he went on to say that the work of Diamond and the others was 'instrumental in wrecking the lives of unknown numbers of hermaphroditic youngsters.'
At the time of Man & Woman, Boy & Girl's publication, Money and Diamond had limited their debate solely to published papers and books. That was shortly to change.
In September 1973, some nine months after the book's publication, John Money chaired the Third Annual International Symposium on Gender Identity, held at the Hotel Libertas in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. The symposium brought together a number of the leading authorities in the field of sexual development. These included Money's coauthor Dr. Anke Ehrhardt, who had taken a position as clinical associate professor in psychiatry at the State University of New York at Buffalo; Dr. Donald Laub, the Stanford Medical School professor and plastic surgeon who specialized in sex change surgery; and Dr. Ira Pauly, a psychiatrist who today is still a leader in the field of transexualism. Milton Diamond, not invited as either presenter or panelist, had nevertheless come to Yugoslavia to attend the conference. After the first day of speeches, during which Money had given the keynote address, the scientists gathered at an evening cocktail reception. The convivial gathering took place in a large room with vast windows that framed a view of the sunset over the Aegean Sea.
'I was sitting with some people over at one end of the room,' Diamond recalls, 'and Money was sitting over in another part of the room with Anke Ehrhardt. And all of a sudden he gets up and shouts at the top of his voice, 'Mickey Diamond, I hate your fucking guts!'
An altercation ensued.
'They were arguing over the twins case,' says Vern Bullough, then a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a friend of both men. 'Mickey pointed our to John that all the data was no there, that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions about the kid. John suddenly slugged Mickey. Hit him. Mickey did not fight back. He just repeated, "The data is not there." John yelled at him, "We have to stick together as sex researchers and not challenge one another!"' (Diamond says that he cannot recall any physical contact during this encounter.)
The combatants were separated, but the incident, Bullough says, threw a considerable pall over the party. Still, it did not inhibit Money's ongoing promotion of the twins case in lectures, published papers, and the press. The following June, Baltimore's News American newspaper ran a long profile on Money, in which the twins case was highlighted as his most impressive accomplishment in sex and gender research. 'There isn't any question which one is the boy and which one the girl,' Money told the newspaper. 'It's just plain obvious.'
'Such findings,' the story continued, 'could have an effect on future attitudes about sex roles that could prove comparable to that of Darwin's theory of Evolution.'