Moneys Creek
John William Money and his only daughter, Lydia, were drowned in Moneys Creek, on 26 December 1891.

John William Money
28 July 1921 – 7 July 2006

Contact email
Thomas Money
John W Money
Elizabeth S Money
Thomas W Money
Edwin A Money
George Money
Lydia Money
Herbert Money
Henry Money
Frank Money
Herbert Money
Arthur T Money
Mary Eva Money
Edwin J Money
Dorothy F Money
Norman B Money
Lydia F Money
Stanley G Money
Alice L Money
Ruby H Money
Edith S Money
Mavis J Money
H Everard Money
E Vivienne Money
Meredith H Money
Ruth S Money
Olive G Money
Lucy H Money
Edna J Money
John W Money
Donald F L Money
Joyce E Money

Early years

John William Money was born in Morrinsville, New Zealand, on 8 July 1921, the eldest of Frank and Ruth Money’s three children: John William, Donald Frank Light, and Joyce Elizabeth.

In 1927, Frank, Ruth and their three children, John William, Donald Frank Light, and Joyce Elizabeth, left Morrinsville for Lower Hutt where they made their home at 45 Wilford Street. Why Frank left Morrinsville, and his brother Harry, when he was not a well man, is not known. He died on 1 August 1929, aged 44 years. Left in extremely straightened circumstances, Ruth was determined to keep her young family together, and this she successfully did.

It was customary at that time, and in his family, to exclude children from the trauma of death and burial at first hand. Instead of sparing John, it traumatize him more. When the news was broken to assembled relatives that his father, Frank, had died, Frank’s eldest brother – that would be Tom – said to John, ‘Now, you will have to be the man of the house.’ Of this, John later wrote, ‘That's rather a heavy duty for an 8–year–old. It had a great impact on me.’ It was a role he did not want.

It was always easy for John to gain approval for his scholarship, and so circumvent participation in competitive sports. From a very age he sought to arrange things on order.  As a four–year–old, he collected dried worms casts from the lawn after a rainfall, and arranging them as miniature sculptures on the cross beams of the water tank stand. That ability to retrieve, collect and arrange in order, and to pigeon hole every observation he made, proved to be an essential foundation for his future research. He became a collector of art and artefacts, books, sculptures and paintings, but above all, research data.

In 1935, John began his secondary education at Hutt Valley High school. He left school at the age of 16, not as a dropout but with a matriculation certificate, ready to enter university. Too young to enter training college, John became an uncertified teacher of six children in a one–room school in the mountainous back country of provincial Marlborough in the South Island. Returning to Wellington, he became a certified schoolteacher. However, in 1942, when he was officially recognised as a conscientious objector, John was banished from the classroom. There was a strong pacifist tradition in the family: his father and his mother’s three brothers were imprisoned in World War I for their strongly held beliefs.

In 1996, when asked how he began writing, in an interview for, John Money said:

In 1929, at age eight I wrote a two–page letter to my father who was dying in the Wellington city hospital, New Zealand. My mother kept it and I still have it. It's quite literate for age eight. In 1944, as a graduate student in Wellington, I wrote a short social science essay on 'Freedom and Planning'. Since it was scholarly rather than literary, it rather surprised me by winning the prose prize of Spike: The Victoria University College Review. In retrospect, that surprise, I think, foreordained my career as a scholarly author, not only engaging in scientific research but also writing about it in the professional literature and in books.

Higher Education

Money was educated in Victoria University College, then part of the University of New Zealand. For psychology, his thesis in 1943, on ‘creativity in musical composition’, was awarded second-class honours. He studied psychology, partly to help understand himself, and the topic of the thesis, because ‘I began to investigate my relative lack of success in comparison with that of other music students.’ Throughout his undergraduate years, Money had retained his passion for music, took piano lessons from Claude Haydon, practised at home, performed in concerts at teachers college and entertained thoughts of embarking on a career as a concert pianist. However, ‘It was difficult for me to have to admit that irrespective of effort, I could never achieve in music the goal that I wanted to set for myself. I would not be even a good amateur.’[1]

Disappointed, he chose to pursue psychology. He enrolled for a second masters degree, then known as a diploma of honours, in education. This time, the dissertation he chose, ‘Career or Culture? A Study of the Relations of Vocation and Culture in Education’. In 1944, he graduated with a double MA in philosophy/psychology and in education.

In March 1945, he became a junior lecturer in the psychology faculty at Otago University College in Dunedin. In Dunedin, he studied for a year under future Nobel Prize winner John Eccles, in neurophysiology. He had always considered brain science and psychological science as two sides of same coin.

It was here, in Dunedin, he met Janet Frame, who had consulted him for counselling, and who was destined to be hospitalised in psychiatric institutions for prolonged periods. Money remained a life-long friend, counsellor and supporter of Frame.

Janet Frame, 2 December 2003
Janet Frame, 12 December 2003.

As a graduate student in psychology Money was influenced by Yale-educated Ernest Beaglehole, a cultural anthropologist who worked professionally with, among others, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. In 1947, declined leave of absence to obtain a PhD, Money packed his bags and emigrated to Pittsburgh, United States.

On his way north from Dunedin he called in to see Denis Glover, poet, editor and founder of a small but prestigious publishing house, Caxton Press. Money had with him a collection of short stories and verses, written by Frame. Money considered the manuscripts to be among the finest literature to emanate from New Zealand. In 1951, Lagoon and Other Stories,[2] by Janet Frame, was published. Frame’s writings became established at the forefront of New Zealand literature. Money and Frame, throughout their lives, maintained a close friendship. Michael King, in his biography of Frame, Wrestling with the Angel, explored at length the relationship between Frame and Money.[3]

Ruth Money with her son, John, before his departure to live abroad.

A Door Opens in the United States

At that time, 1947, the newly opened Western State Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh advertised for foreign students to apply for residency training. He wrote: ‘Even if I had had the wealth, I would not have been able to convert it into dollars to pay for the graduate fees for a PhD in an American university instead of a British university. It was, therefore, serendipity of the highest order that, having borrowed an American psychiatric journal from the university library… and there find a notice saying that the newly opened Western State Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh solicited foreign graduates in psychology to apply for residency training. Room and board was provided and a yearly stipend…’[4]

Of his time at Western State Money wrote: ‘It is a great change to be in a place where psychology is not considered as just a poor relation, and I do feel that shall get a great deal from my experience here. I am told that everyone who leaves the place has so far had the greatest ease in getting a very good appointment.’[5] In 1948, he became a graduate student in the Psychological Clinic and the Department of Social Relations at Harvard University. At Harvard, where he gained a PhD degree in 1952, Money developed a pioneer’s commitment to medical psychology, and specifically to birth defects of the sex organs and the psychoendocrinology of hermaphroditism (ambiguous sexual characteristics) and related genetic, endocrine and sexological problems. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, ‘Hermaphroditism: an Inquiry into the Nature of a Human Paradox.’

In 1951, as a straight-A graduate, Money transferred from Harvard to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, as an instructor in psychology. He was also, simultaneously, a part-time lecturer in psychology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Torn between two institutions, Money chose Johns Hopkins for a full-time career. At Johns Hopkins, he became the world’s first paediatric clinical psychoendocrinologist at the invitation of Lawson Wilkins who was himself the world’s first paediatric endocrinologist.

He was among the first scientists to study the psychological experience of sexual confusion and was an early proponent of sex reassignment surgery for men and women who believed that their biologically given sex was at odds with their sexual identity. In 1965, he collaborated with a surgeon on the first transsexual surgery sex-change operation at Johns Hopkins. In 1969, the book Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment,[6] co-edited by Richard Green and Money, helped make this type of surgery more widely accepted.

In 1966, Money founded the Gender Identity Clinic, a name that he hoped would allow it eventually to encompass all problems of gender identity, including those of hermaphroditism as well as transexualism; this did not happen. In the same year, Money, with colleagues, for the first time ever treated paraphilic sex offenders with the anti-androgenic hormone, medoxy-progesterone acetate, and combined hormonal with sexological counselling. The clinic at Johns Hopkins became famous, not because it was the first in the field of sex-reassignment surgery, but because it made it respectable.

Money, a pioneer in the establishment of transsexualism as a diagnostic category in the United States, was the target of bitter rivalry. As one example, Bullough wrote: ‘In 1975, Paul McHugh, an opponent of transsexual surgery, became chairman of the psychiatry of Johns Hopkins, and he was determined to end the practice, comparing it to lobotomies of an earlier generation of psychiatry. John Meyer, the then-head of the clinic and no friend of Money’s, agreed and closed it.’[7]

He formulated, defined and coined the term ‘gender role’, and later expanded it to gender-identity/role (G-I/R) in 1955. Money’s research on paraphilias led to formulation of the concept of lovemaps. Where he could not find suitable words to describe a situation, he coined a term, invented a word or gave a new meaning to an old word. Some, such as gender identity and gender role, are now well integrated into everyday language, while others are less well-known, such as foodmap, speechmap, exigencies, pairbonding or pairbondage, troopbonding or troopbondage, abidance, ycelptance, foredoomance, apotemnophilia, phylism and paleodigm .

John Money letter
Money describes coinage, inventing a new word or phrase.

In 1969–70, he designed and introduced the first curriculum in sexual medicine for medical students. In 1974, he was the first to explore behavioral cytogenetics, the psychological concomitants of sex chromosome disorders.

John Money, at his office desk
John Money in his office.

Trial by Media

Money tracked the progress of intersex children — infants born with ambiguous genitals — who were raised as boys or girls. He also consulted frequently with parents who were trying to decide how to raise a child with ambiguous or damaged genitals. In 1966, after consulting with Dr. Money in 1966, the parents of a young boy whose penis had been destroyed in a botched circumcision decided to raise their son as a girl. In 1973, Dr. Money reported that the child, who had been castrated and furnished with dresses and dolls, was doing well, and had accepted the new identity as a girl.

In 1997, Diamond and Sigmundson reported a detailed follow-up: the individual had later rejected this sex of rearing, switched at puberty to living as a male, and was said to have successfully lived as such from that time.[8] Diamond had been an early critic of Money, charging him with de-emphasising biology of nature, and overemphasising nuture.[9]This 1997 report of what became known as the John-Joan case, caused an uproar, played out repeatedly in print,[10][11] on television and the internet, and in the book, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl, by John Colapinto.[12]Although embroiled in this bitter controversy, Money refused to comment. He was mortified by the case, colleagues said, and as a rule did not discuss it. ‘Given what the field knew at the time, Money made the right call about what to do’ with the child, said Dr. Richard Green, a former colleague.[13] Johns Hopkins also remained silent on the issue. While Money remained silent, Michael King, in New Zealand, wrote a vigorous rebuttal of the numerous inaccurate and emotional accusations that had been made.[14]

It was unfortunate that Money failed to report the difficulties of the child to accept sex reassignment until much later. Bullough wrote: ‘Personally, I think it would have been politically wiser for John to have been the first to reveal the changes taking place in the John-Joan case or to have emphasized the contradictory evidence early on rather having someone else do it, but he did not and this will remain a blot on his career.’[15]

Why did Money not respond to the bitter attack on him? The following words, written by Money in 1990 and published in 1993, anticipated his response to the charges laid against him:

From as far back as the day when I first went to school, there has been ample evidence that I do not have a talent for establishing dominance in the power hierarchy. Thus, I have on several occasions been a sitting duck for the potshots of other professionals. Some colleagues and students, female as well as male, intramural and extramural, have been, I would say, rather shamelessly exploitative. Nor have the media been exempt from taking potshots from time to time.

I have been, however, a survivor, not a martyr. I have survived by putting into practice my own maxim and have not been lured into declaring a war that I had no possible chance of winning. Instead of mounting a direct counterattack, I would adopt a policy of disengagement and redirect my energies into an alternative channel of achievement. There have always been more alternatives in my work than could be attended to at anyone time.[16]

Success Recognised

Money remained at The John Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine where he became Professor of Medical Psychology and Professor of Pediatrics. He maintained a full-time career in research, supported by grants from both public and private sectors. For over four decades, he continuously received awards from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a remarkable record.

His office was small, he employed few staff, yet his output was prodigious. He could be prickly, stubborn and unyielding, but for those he cared for he nurtured tenderly, as his many graduate students can testify. He cared for those who sought his help. Every evening, for many years, he received a phone call from a person in a far-distant city. The counselling given in those private conversations, Money believed, prevented that person from committing a horrendous crime.

In October 2004, his health failing and his work completed, Money closed the doors of his office. On 7 July 2006, he died in Towson, Maryland.

Money received honorary doctoral degrees from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (1988) and Hofstra University (1992), together with numerous other honours. In 1991, an indexed bibliography of Money’s publications listed 34 books he had authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited, 346 scientific papers, 87 scholarly reviews and book chapters, and many short communications, comments and book reviews.[17]

In 2003, Vern Leroy Bullough, the distinguished American historian and sexologist wrote: ‘John Money is one of the great pioneers of American sexology in the last part of the 20th century. He should be included in the pantheon of pioneer researchers such as Alfred Kinsey, William Masters, Virginia Johnson, and other individuals who changed the way Americans (and much of the world) thought about sexuality. Kinsey, the taxonomist, described the varieties of sexual behavior of Americans. Masters and Johnson described the physiological process of orgasm and sexual response, and in the process founded modem sex therapy. Money, a psychologist, took the next step and constructed a theory of sexual development, emphasizing the interaction and interdependence of social psychological and biological factors. All four helped establish sexology as a science, but John Money was one of the first to put his research into a theoretical framework.’ [18]

Patron of Arts and Artists

In Baltimore, Money chose to live at 2104 E Madison Street, simply because it was within walking distance from his office. It was not a place where one would have expected to find a person holding a university appointment, for it was in one of the least desirable parts of the city. Although he had been mugged in this area at least four times, he believed he knew how to look after himself. When the writer of this article visited him, in 1996, a laceration on his forearm bore witness to an assault the previous day. Money was kind to his neighbours, and they, in turn, protected him. His home, a narrow two–storey tenement building with a basement, was strongly fortified with three locks on the front door. An abundant vigorous collection of greenery within the window front window obscured any view of what was in the house. The front room, the one first seen on entering the home, was crammed with large sculptures of African origin, numerous artefacts and paintings, and a grand piano, a scene repeated in every room of his home. In all of this apparent chaos there was no disorder, for Money had neatly catalogued every item. Waking in the darkness of the night in an upstairs bedroom could be unsettling, for a large African statue bent over the end of the bed. Money was not alone, for his niece, Sally Hopkins, artist and printmaker, lived next door.

John Money's home
Shirley Cook at John Money's home, 1998.

John Money, at home, playing his piano
John Money, in the front room of his home, playing his piano, 1996.

In the latter years of his life, Money ensured that his research records, meticulously catalogued, were placed in houses of safekeeping, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington and the Hocken Library in Dunedin, New Zealand. He was concerned that his art collection be kept intact.

In Dunedin, in the 1940s, Money met and befriended authors Janet Frame, James K Baxter and his wife-to-be, Jacqueline Sturm, poet and editor Charles Brasch, pianists Douglas Lilburn, Fred Page and Maurice Clare, and artists Rita Angus and Theo Schoon. It was a formidable group, for, as the years unfolded, everyone made a major contribution to the landscape of literature, music and art in New Zealand. Schoon was ‘an artist of exceptionally rare talent,’ Money told his mother. Money had a large collection of Schoon’s works. Schoon and Angus were friends. Schoon introduced Money to Angus, who, over many years, purchased her works.

In 1944, Angus, refusing to work in a factory to support the war effort, appeared before the Industrial Manpower Appeal Committee at the Magistrate’s Court. Angus, in a formal statement, presented her case: ‘I object to direction into essential industry on the grounds that I am a conscientious objector to war, and, as an artist, it is my work to create life and not to destroy.’ Her case dismissed, she was ordered to report for work but continued to refuse to work. Money, too, was a conscientious objector. They had much in common.

In Baltimore, Money became a patron of a young artist, Lowell Nesbitt, and collected many of his works. He also collected works of two Australian indigenous artists whom he had met and befriended during two research trips to their community at Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. Money carefully selected artists he would support, and purchased only their works. He was, indeed, a patron of the arts and of individual artists. Money's entire Australian collection were of works by two Warramirri artists, Wadaymu and (George) Liwukan, the result of friendships fostered during two research trips to their community at Elcho Island in Arnhem Land.

Money, in his few free moments doodled, revealing an artistic talent.

John Money doodle John Money doodle John Money doodle
Artwork given to Bramwell Cook.

In Baltimore, encouraged by Abram Engelman, a friend, colleague and collector of African art, Money purchased many wooden statues and other artefacts. He held the view that these works of art would not have survived long in the harsh environments of their homelands. Money recognised strong links between Maori, Pacific and African cultures.

Abram Engelmann
Abram Engelmann at opening of the Eastern Southland Gallery,
12 December 2003..

Money, anxious to keep his collected works intact in one location in New Zealand, finally found a home in the unlikely small rural service town of Gore, famous for its Hokanui moonshine museum and brown trout fishing in the Mataura River. Jim Geddes, curator of the Eastern Southland Gallery, in Gore, came to his rescue. Michael King, in his last published work – he and his wife were tragically killed in a car accident on 30 March 2004  – described the journey of Money’s art collection from Baltimore to the purpose-built John Money wing of the Eastern Southland Gallery.[19] The gallery has been given the nickname of 'Goreggenheim' by Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts. King’s book documents Money’s life, placing him within the generation of twentieth century artists, writers, composers and academics who have woven the cultural fabric of New Zealand. Helen Clark, prime minister of New Zealand, opened the John Money wing on 12 December 2003. Janet Frame, now frail and seriously ill, made a special visit to Gore, to be with Money where they sat together outside the gallery, the last tine they were to meet. Frame died on 29 January 2004. Money, too, was an ill man, and this was to be the last visit to New Zealand. On 7 July 2006, he died in Towson, Baltimore.

John Money conversing with Janet Frame, 12 December 2003.

Family Legacy

Although Money had no children, he was a family man. On his frequent visits to his homeland he regularly promoted family gatherings. He communicated often with the writer of this essay, H Bramwell Cook, sharing with him valued historical material. His influence stimulated Money family reunions to be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in November 2003 and in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, in July 2004, and the publication of the Money family history book, We’re in the Money.

John Money with nieces, Jill Margetts (L) and Jenny Luxton (R)
John Money, with favourite nieces, 12 December 2003.

David Eggleton. The sex doctor’s gift to Gore. The Listener.


^1. John Money, in We're in the Money: The Money Family History, H Bramwell Cook, editor, 2003.

^2. Janet Frame, The lagoon and other stories, Caxton Press, Christchurch, 1951 (1952).

^3. Michael King, Wrestling with the Angel: a Life of Janet Frame, Viking, 2000.

^4. John Money, Explorations in Human Behavior, in The History of Clinical Psychology in Autobiography, Vol II, C Eugene Walker (Ed), Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, California, 1993.

^5. John Money, 23 September 1947.

^6. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment: Edited by Richard Green, M.D., and John Money, Ph.D. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1969.

^7. Vern L Bullough, The contributions of John Money: A personal view, The Journal of Sex Research, 40: 230–6, 2003, page 234.

^8. Diamond M, Sigmundson HK, Sex reassignment at birth. Long-term review and clinical implications. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med; 1997 151:298-304.

^9. Diamond M, A critical evaluation of the ontogeny of human sexual behaviour. Quarterly Review of Biology, 1965; 40: 147-75.

^10. John Colapinto, The true story of John/Joan, The Rolling Stone, 11 December 1997, pp 54-97.

^11. Natalie Angier, Sexual Identity Not Pliable After All, Report Says, The New York Times, 14 March 1997.

^12. John Colapino, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl, New York: Harper Collins, 2000.

^13. The New York Times: John William Money, 84, Sexual Identity Researcher, Dies. By Benedict Carey, Published: July 11, 2006.

^14. Michael King, The Duke of Dysfunction, Listener, 4-10 April 1998, pages 18-21.

^15. Vern L Bullough, The contributions of John Money: A personal view, The Journal of Sex Research, 40: 230-6, 2003, page 233.

^16. C E Walker, The History of Clinical Psychology in Autobiography, Vol II, Belmont, CA, Wadsworth, 1993, page 269.

^17. John Money: A Tribute, edited by Edmond Coleman. Haworth Press, 1991.

^18. Vern L Bullough, The contributions of John Money: A personal view, The Journal of Sex Research, 40: 230–6, 2003.

^19. Michael King, Splendours of Civilisation: The John Money Collection at the Eastern Southland Gallery, Longacre Press, 2006.

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Frank, Ruth and John Money
John with his parents, Frank and Ruth.

John Money, with his brother, Don.

John William Money
Money writes a letter
to his sister, Joyce, on 25 April 1997,
by Derek Margetts.

John Money,
12 December 2003.