In 1967, the botched circumcision of an anonymous baby boy led to a horrifying 12-year effort to turn a boy into a girl. Known as the “John/Joan Case,” the experiment was presented everywhere as a smashing success and proof that sexual orientation was a product of nurture, not nature. I even recall being taught the case in high school psychology.

There is only one problem with this narrative: the experiment was a catastrophe kept secret for a generation.

In 1997, columnist John Colapinto tracked “John/Joan” down. Though reluctant to tell his story, John participated and the result was the following article for Rolling Stone. I read this story at the time of its initial release, and later wanting to reference it, found it almost impossible to find online — until now.

This is a long read, but we think this article is very important, and at no time more than now as our culture increasingly — and dangerously — treats sexual orientation as a preference rather than a predetermined designation. Writes Colapinto, “John’s case is evidence that gender identity and sexual orientation are largely inborn, and that while rearing may play a role in helping to shape a person’s sexual identity, nature is by far the stronger of the two forces.”

This story will fill you with compassion and rage as you read of John’s torment at the hands of a Dr. Frankenstein and some very foolish parents who let him play God with their child.

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Larry Alex Taunton is an author, cultural commentator, and freelance columnist contributing to USA TODAYFox NewsFirst ThingsThe AtlanticCNN, and The American Spectator.  In addition to being a frequent radio and television guest, he is also the author of The Grace Effect and The Gospel Coalition Arts and Culture Book of the Year, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. You can subscribe to his blog at

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