Witty Wednesday-“The Sissy Boy Experiment”

Last night, “Anderson Cooper 360” covered the story of “The Sissy Boy Experiment”, which was a study done at UCLA in the 1970s to change the behavior of children who behaved like the opposite sex, i.e. boys playing with dolls and girls behaving as “tomboys”.  The subject of this story, Kirk Murphy, ended up committing suicide in 2003 at the age of 38.  His family blames it on the after-effects of the treatment he received during his time as a study of doctoral student George Rekers. 

Now, before I state my opinion, let me put some disclaimers out.

  • I am not, nor have I ever been or claimed to be, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. 
  • I do not have firsthand knowledge of feeling like I was born in the wrong body (meaning I don’t feel that way).

First, what happened to letting children be children?  Now, I don’t have children, but if my son wanted to play with Barbie growing up, I can’t say that I would allow it.  I definitely don’t think that I would allow him to dress in my clothes.  But, I definitely WOULD NOT send my child to a doctor to “enhance” his masculine behavior.  My belief is that no matter what one does, if a child is born to behave a certain way, that child will behave that way.  It doesn’t matter if the child reverts back to it as a teenager or as a 40 year old, but eventually the child’s true feelings will come out.  Case in point, Kirk Murphy ended up being a gay man.  Sadly, according to his family, he was never truly happy again after his treatment. 

Another point that Murphy’s brother, Mark, brought up in the interview is that Kirk learned what to say to the doctors to convince them he was “cured” and that nothing was wrong with him.  He wasn’t allowed to be who he was because he knew in doing so he could re-live the shame, hurt, and punishments he endured when he was younger.  I would not be surprised to learn that most of the students in this “study” did just that.  And isn’t that human nature-to tell people what they want to hear, especially if the opposite will have negative reprecussions for us??? 

The moral of my post today?  Let people (children) be who they want to be.  As long as they are not hurting anyone, we should embrace them for who they are.   Of course when children are born, their parents have these hopes, dreams, and desires for them, but children are not born to fulfill their parents’ dreams-they need to fulfill their own.  Yes, their life may be hard if they decide to live as a homosexual or as a transgendered person, but as their family, it is our responsiblity to let them know they have our love and support.  Making them feel ashamed of who they are could have dire consequences. 

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city. 

P.S. And let me not forget to mention that last year Dr. Rekers travelled overseas with a male escort.  Dr. Rekers stated he did not realize that his attendant was someone who took money in exchange for sex (yeah, right.).  Dr. Rekers stated he hired this man to carry his bags.  Funny, since the good doctor was pictured pushing the luggage cart with his luggage on it in the airport in Miami when he returned home from said trip…

My South Carolina Heritage

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of going to the Museum of African Art in SW DC.  A friend invited me along and since I had a day off (from both jobs) I took her up on it.  And imagine my surprise when I saw that I had not missed an exhibit I really wanted to see! 

This past May I read an article in The Island Packet, the Hilton Head newspaper, about an exhibit that was coming to the Smithsonian museum in DC.  Grass Roots: African Origins of American Art was going to be on display at the Museum of African Art from June 23 until November 28.  Sweetgrass baskets are a staple and very important to the Gullah people and other inhabitants along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts.  Looking at the baskets and watching the videos of the basket makers made me think of my home state.  As my paternal family is from the SC coast, I am very familiar with the history and significance of these baskets.   And I remembered making a sweetgrass basket and learning Gullah during my 8th grade SC History Class. (I wonder if Southern Mom still has my basket…)  In addition to baskets from the coast being on display, there were also baskets from various African countries.  As I walked around, I felt a little nostalgic and homesick.  It really made me appreciate my history.  Suprisingly, the slave auction signs they had hanging didn’t upset me.  (I don’t think that’s really significant to the story, but I felt like sharing. *kanye shrug*)

The time and patience it takes to create these baskets is amazing.  If you ever visit Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head, or Daufuskie Island, SC or Savannah, GA, I highly suggest you purchase a basket.  It will be a beautiful decoration to your home.  Most importantly, you only have 10 more days to go see the exhibit in DC before it moves on.  I may even go see it again.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.