As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto


As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl

John Colapinto


May 23, 2005

This is an amazing story … there are the obvious reasons … the topic is unusual, there is the appeal of reading about something so out of the ordinary, even freaky but what I loved about the book (and this is where the talent of the author comes in) is that the storyteller doesn’t just play up the freakiness, the unnaturalness of a biological boy being raised as a girl.  It would be so easy to just rely on the base story to attract people.  But there is so much more to this story than that.  Real people were horribly affected by a decision that seemed to make sense at the time.  I don’t want to give too much of the book away but basically because of an accident during a circumcision it was decided that a baby boy should be raised as a girl…this was in the ’60s but what’s really shocking is that this practice continues to today.  Exposing the dangers of this practice makes this a very important book.  People are so willing to follow doctors’ advice. Another intriguing and shocking part of the book is the subplot of what doctors, psychologists and researchers were doing & discovering concerning hermaphrodites and children with genital disfigurements.  I was also really moved by how this one decision and it’s consequences affected this family in tragic ways.  His mother becomes depressed, even suicidal, his father drowns his feelings and confusion in alcohol, his twin brother feels neglected and unimportant compared to his “sister.”  And least of all the boy himself … whose confusion and fright and just utter frustration is displayed throughout the book.

Also, even though it is non-fiction I found it read more like a story, even with some complicated medical terms and procedures.  It was also a pretty quick read which has more to do with the “I can’t put it down” factor than it being a simple book … because it is anything but simple!

review by April M. originally posted at


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