John Money is pictured beside his desk (on which is a decorated gourd by New Zealand artist Theo Schoon) in 1998. Money was born into a Plymouth Brethren family in Morrinsville in 1921. He studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington and then joined the psychology faculty at the University of Otago, where he befriended the young writer, Janet Frame. He left for the United States in 1947. After studying at the University of Pittsburgh he completed his PhD at Harvard in 1952, and then took up a position at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Money made a vital contribution to the understanding of how sexual identity develops, arguing that social and environmental factors interact with genes and hormones to determine whether a child identifies as male or female. He coined the terms 'gender identity' to describe the internal experience of sexuality and 'gender role' to describe the social expectations of male and female behaviour. He was a specialist in the study of transsexuals and sex reassignment, which led him into controversy when, in 1966, he advised that a boy whose penis had been damaged should be castrated and brought up as a girl. When the boy later repudiated his female identity and then eventually died by suicide, Money was vilified, but colleagues defended him, saying he acted on the basis of what was known about sexuality at the time.
Money was briefly married but had no children. He died in Baltimore in 2006. In 2002 he gifted his outstanding art collection to the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore.
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Eastern Southland Gallery
Photograph by Michael King
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