‘Sissy Boy Experiment’ examines 70’s-era therapy to make feminine boys masculine

‘Sissy Boy Experiment’ examines 70’s-era therapy to make feminine boys masculine
Kirk Murphy

In the 1970s, 5-year-old Kirk Murphy underwent therapy for his effeminate behavior — his parents enrolled him in a federally-funded experimental program at UCLA.

Decades later, a gay man at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.

The “Sissy Boy Experiment” is Anderson Cooper’s three-part special report that examines the shocking “experimental therapy” designed to make feminine boys more masculine, and the life long effects on the patient’s mental health. The first report aired Tuesday night on CNN’s “AC360.”

In case you missed it, here is the first of this 3-part story:

As CNN reports, George A. Rekers, a doctoral student at the time, conducted the experimental therapy on Kirk.

Rekers eventually became a founding member of the Family Research Council, a faith-based organization that lobbies against gay-rights issues, that in 2010 was designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Rekers was also on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization of scientists that says its mission is to offer treatment to those who struggle with what they call “unwanted homosexuality.”

In May 2010, Rekers was exposed for vacationing with a 20 year-old gay escort he met online at

After the scandal broke, Rekers resigned from NARTH. And the Family Research Council said in a statement they hadn’t had contact with Rekers in “over a decade.”

The second installment of Cooper’s report airs Wednesday night.

For additional, and extensive coverage, on Kirk Murphy and George Rekers’ experimental therapies, go to Box Turtle Bulletin.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Corrections department folds, will allow gay officer to march in pride parade

Previous article

Gay lawmakers urge Obama to veto defense bill with anti-gay amendments

Next article