The “Sissy Boy” Experiment

Trigger warning for suicide, physical and emotional abuse, heterosexism, cissexism.

In the past couple days CNN’s Anderson Cooper has been reporting on the case of Kirk Murphy, who at the age of 5 was subjected to gender “therapy” intended to make him less effeminate and prevent him from becoming gay later in life. The graduate student who oversaw Kirk’s case was none other than George Rekers, the so-called expert on ex-gay therapy who was caught last year returning from vacation with a gay male escort.

Despite Rekers’ citing of Kirk in several publications as a successful example of eliminating gender variance in a child and preventing him from becoming gay as an adult,* Kirk did in fact identify as a gay man in adulthood. Sadly, he committed suicide at 38, which his family attributes to the “therapy” he received as a child, along with the fact that he never fully embraced his sexuality or had a committed relationship with another man.

CNN’s coverage is worth checking out (see video clips below), as is Box Turtle Bulletin’s excellent and comprehensive investigation into the professional and family contexts in which Kirk’s treatment and its aftermath unfolded.

Part 1

Part 2:

Part 3:

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Gender confusion as “reparative” therapy « Are Women Human?

  2. I am always terrified by issues like this. I am also truly surprised about the fact that this people are not being persecuted for torture, involuntary manslaughter (if not actual homicide), sexual abuse… Seriously, why is this kind of “treatment” not considered illegal!?!

  3. Very glad my Mom never signed me up for this.

    • I can’t even imagine. Horrible. Especially when a child has no real concept of what they’ve done “wrong” or why they’re being punished…