(LifeSiteNews) — Earlier this week, The Daily Wire published a gut-wrenching editorial penned by Sophie Ottaway titled “Doctors Performed A Sex Change Operation On Me At Two-Days-Old. I Found Out Decades Later.” It is yet another cautionary tale detailing the folly of gender ideology and the suffering borne by its victims.
When Sophie was 22, Ottaway discovered something stunning during a “routine trip to the doctor’s office” – that Ottaway was born male. Two days after birth, doctors had decided to remove “my split penis and testes” and “directed my parents to raise me as a female,” ordering them to keep this fact from Sophie “under the guise of psychological protection.” Ottaway is now 37 and decided to pen the editorial to lay out “the journey I undertook to make peace with myself and my body.”
Sophie had a largely happy childhood in the North of England, but was lied to by both parents and physicians. Urological problems were constantly present; Sophie was told that this was due to a “rare birth condition” and that “I’d been born with ovaries, but due to my condition, they’d been damaged and removed at birth.” As Sophie became a teen, the complications of this condition became clear as periods never came, and estrogen was prescribed:
I started to understand how my lack of vagina would impact my future relationships. At the same time, I knew I had very little interest in the boys around me and struggled to come to terms with the idea that I was most likely gay. I spiraled into a dark period of depression and in my college years began to find an outlet for my pain in drink, drugs, and heavy metal music.
After Sophie found out the truth about being born male – accidentally seeing the evidence on the doctor’s computer screen during a checkup – a 13-year period of intense denial followed, accompanied by anger at the parents and medical system that had made the decision and kept it secret. Several years ago, a specialist in Manchester finally gave the medical condition that plagued Sophie a name: cloacal exstrophy:
Cloacal exstrophy, also known as OEIS syndrome, is a rare birth condition which occurs in around 1 in 400,000 live births. It is a severe birth defect severely affecting the lower abdominal organs. The child can be born with their bladder and intestines on the outside of their body. The penis can also be either flat or split into two halves, which was the case with me.
In later years, as I began researching medical papers on my condition, I discovered that in the 1980s it was common practice for surgeons to reassign the gender of male babies born with cloacal exstrophy. In many cases, the penis and testes were removed and a pseudo vagina created in its place. Patients were often never formally told of their birth gender and were left to discover the information either by accident or never at all.
In 2021, Sophie experienced intense pain, with a fistula opening up near the genital area and leaking fluid and was admitted to the hospital. An attending surgeon, having discovered that Sophie had undergone a sex change at birth, stated that the reason for the emergency was “a failed pseudo vagina had been left in my abdomen from an earlier surgery.” When the surgeon who had performed the original sex change surgery was contacted, he confirmed that “a pseudo vagina… may have been put into my body when I was just two-days old.” This discovery was the last straw:
And that’s when a switch flipped in my brain – enough was enough. Not only had surgeons conducted unnecessary gender reassignment surgeries on my childhood body – I’d spent a whole lifetime without a vagina only to land in hospital with sepsis caused by a failed fake vagina that I never knew existed.
If those birth surgeries were legitimately conducted to help me, then why would I be facing a critical illness due to a vagina a baby boy should never have had? What value could a pseudo vagina ever have been to a two-day-old baby? Was I part of a medical experiment?
Sophie’s search for answers were, initially, stonewalled. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust claimed to have destroyed relevant medical records, and nobody wanted to respond to Sophie’s questions. A meeting with the original surgeon resulted in the doctor claiming that “he was just following the medical pathways for my condition defined at the time.” A colleague recommended that Sophie research Dr. John Money. Money, it turns out, was one of the key theorists of “gender identity” and believed that gender was independent of sex, defined not by biological nature but by nurture and environment. His theories, incidentally, underpin much of the transgender movement’s ideology.
Money’s theory was tested on twin boys, Brian and Bruce Reimer. (The entire tragic story of these brothers is detailed in John Colapinto’s heartbreaking but essential 2006 book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, which I first read years ago – long before the trans movement burst onto the scene.) Bruce’s penis was damaged shortly after birth during a botched circumcision, and Money persuaded the parents to castrate him, create a pseudo vagina, and have him raised as a girl named Brenda. After years of depression – caused in part by Money’s forcing the twins to engage sexually with each other during regular sessions throughout their childhood – and grappling with his identity, Bruce was told the truth about who he was, and transitioned back to a male. He chose the name David and eventually married a woman.
The story of the Reimer twins – which Dr. John Money used at conferences everywhere as evidence of his theory that sex and gender were separate and that gender was a matter of nurture – ends tragically. Brian died of an overdose of anti-depressants in 2002, and David died of suicide in 2004 after his wife asked for a divorce. Their deaths did not stop Money from claiming that the experiment that had destroyed two lives was a success. As Sophie noted: “I began to speculate that my surgeries were a direct result of the pathways informed by Money’s failed ideologies.” Sophie now believes that many children were, as a result of Money’s dangerous views, part of a horrifying medical experiment.
Sophie explored the possibility of de-transitioning, but decided against it as “the reality of the process would be further genital mutilation to create a non-functioning penis and ingesting stacks of potentially dangerous synthetic testosterone hormones.”
As Scott Newgent, who transitioned from female to male, told me on my podcast: for many who have undergone sex change “treatments,” there are no easy choices. Many people are simply too physically and physiologically damaged to have a simple choice. Many feel trapped between the sexes – knowing that they cannot change, but feeling trapped somewhere in between by the surgeries they have undergone and the drugs they have taken. This is a heartbreaking aspect of the transgender movement’s fallout that we will have to grapple with in the years ahead.
Sophie decided instead to address the underlying traumas and mental health issues caused by the surgeries, and now campaigns for a change of medical pathways. Sophie’s story is yet another reminder that these ideological battles are not simply about ideology – they are about individual people and their lives. The Reimers are both gone now. Sophie, thankfully, is not, and has found a measure of peace. But there will be thousands more of these cases as victims of the transgender medical industry continue to come forward – and we will have to be ready to minister to them; to accept them; and to do whatever we can to alleviate their suffering.