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20 May 2017

John Ronald Brown: part II.


Continued from Part I.

John Ronald Brown was 69 when he got out of prison. After a period working as a taxi driver, he restarted his surgical practice in Tijuana, but this time also lived in Mexico for a while. He sometimes used the pseudonym of Juan Moreno, and as such had operating room privileges at Hospital Quintana in Playas de Tijuana, although he was not licensed to practice medicine in Mexico. By now he was favoring colon vaginoplasty. Patients would afterwards find that they smelt of rotting flesh. Many of these returned to Brown for revision (and extra billing); others ended up in emergency rooms.

Carrie, who had had vaginoplasty with a European surgeon in 1991, engaged Brown ln 1995 to enhance her labia so that she would be more in demand for nude modeling. He took a layer of skin from the inside of her mouth to sew onto her genitals. She was sent home without antibiotics or pain medicine, and it took three months to heal. A year later Brown came to her Los Angeles home to correct the results by injecting silicone.

Camille, previously an insurance underwriter, had vaginoplasty from Brown in 1997, and he punctured her rectum. Despite this she was sent home without medications or follow-up care. She then needed hospitalization for several days because of pain, complications and infections, and the recto-vaginal fistula continued to leak into her vagina. She became a stay-in, not able to go anywhere.

Mimi, who was also beautiful, was well pleased with her operation, and Brown featured her in a
Mimi
promotional video.

He had an advertising brochure:
The prettiest pussies are John Brown pussies.
The happiest patients are John Brown patients.
Because . . .
1. Each has a sensitive clit.
2. All (99%) get orgasms.
3. Careful skin draping gives a natural appearance.
4. Men love the pretty pussies and the sexy response.
Gregg Furth was a Jungian analyst who had worked with John Money on a body-modification yearning for which John Money had coined a term: apotemnophilia (the desire to have a leg amputated). They published a paper on it in 1977.

Furth experienced the yearning himself, as did his older friend, Philip Bondy, a retired satellite engineer. They built up a collection of photographs, slides and videos of male amputees.

Furth came across a newspaper article about John Brown, and flew to San Diego. He found Brown quite open-minded about a would-be amputee’s right to choose. In February 1997, Furth returned for the operation, but it was cancelled after the assisting doctor in Tijuana refused to participate when he realized just what was to happen. In 1999 they tried again. However on arrival, Furth found that his desire to be amputated had disappeared. Bondy stepped in to take the operation in his place. However he died two days later of gangrene in a motel in California. Brown was arrested and tried by the San Diego authorities, even though the operation had been done in Tijuana. 

The medical receipts showed that Bondy had paid Brown to do the amputation. This mystified the San Diego police, until trans activist Dallas Denny phoned in and suggested that they read up on apotemnophilia. This was confirmed by a police search of Furth’s apartment in New York.

The charge against Brown was upgraded from manslaughter to malice murder in the second degree, which means that the defendant does something that is dangerous to human life, knowing it is dangerous to human life and does it anyway. To make that charge stick, the prosecution needed to demonstrate that Brown had a history of being reckless. The video tapes in Brown’s apartment helped, but they also needed to find transsexuals who would testify against him.

Christina had mortgaged her house to pay for surgeries, 10 altogether, by Brown. However the skin grafts inside her vagina were so thin that they tore during intercourse. Also Brown had removed her lower ribs to give a more feminine waist: she developed an abscess there as big as a basketball. Her nose job resulted in different sized nostrils, one turned up. Brown felt bad enough that he phoned to offer a $500 refund. Her mother told him that her son had committed suicide.

Before the trial, brown pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, relating to seven sex-change operations.

Carrie and Camille testified for the prosecution. Patrice Baxter was a witness for the defense. Brown was found guilty in October 1999 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, which he mainly served in Soledad State Prison.

Gregg Furth had met with Dr Robert Smith, a surgeon in Glasgow who had performed two elective amputations, but was then told to stop by his Hospital Trust. They wrote a book on the subject of apotemnophilia which came out in 2000.

Brown appealed in 2001, but unsuccessfully, his lawyer arguing that California was without
Brown in Soledad
jurisdiction to try him, and that the instructions on implied malice were inadequate.

For Camille, the pain got worse and worse until she died, shortly after Brown’s conviction.

Still in prison, aged 87, Brown died of health problems including pneumonia in 2010.

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John Brown did over 600 mtf sex-change operations over 25 years. Some of his ex-patients are still delighted with his work. Many others are not. The motivation to trust your body to him was the apparent low price, but if you had complications, and returned for repair work, this lower price quickly disappeared.

Dallas Denny’s “The Tijuana experiencestarts with a quote from Canary Conn. This is unfair. Conn was operated on in Tijuana in 1972 but by Dr Barbosa (named as Dr Lopez in her book). Brown did not start doing sex-change surgery until 1973, and did not set up in Tijuana until 1982.

I like Wendy Davidson’s idea of a peer clinic run by trans persons. It would need to contract with surgeons who were consistently rather than only intermittently good.

Cutting off someone’s leg and leaving them to die is against the law in Mexico. In addition Brown was not licensed to practice medicine in Mexico. As the crime was committed there, they should have had the first shot at prosecution. For another example of US extraterritorial enforcement see Walter L. Williams.

The EN.Wikipedia article on Apotemniphilia does not even mention John Brown.

The Murderpedia article on John Brown says “Number of victims: 1”. Camille and Christina are known to have died as a result of Brown’s bad surgey, and there are certainly others not identified.

Nicole Spray put comments on this blog in 2010 hoping to contact other patients of John Brown. I hope that that worked out well.

There are two doctor characters in fiction who could be taken to be satires of John Brown – except that they predate his work as a surgeon:
1. Dr Montag who helps Myra Breckinrige come into being in Gore Vidal’s 1968 novel.
2. Dr Benway who recurs in William Burrough’s novels including Naked Lunch, 1959 and Nova Express, 1964. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Season 5, 2004, featured a surgeon called Benway who accidentally kills patients during back-alley transgender surgery.
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  • Herb Caen. “Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery”. San Francisco Chronicle, 26 October 1973.
  • John Money, Russell Jobaris & Gregg Furth, "Apotemnophilia: Two cases of self demand amputation as a sexual preference". The Journal of Sex Research. 13 (2) 1977: 115–124.
  • “Transsexual Accepts Suit Settlement”. San Diego Union, March 2, 1979. Online.
  • Eric Nadler. “The Incredible Dick Doctor” Penthouse Forum, January 1986: 18-25.
  • Veronica Jean Brown. “He’s Back !”. Twenty Minutes, September 1989: 3-4. Online.
  • Dallas Denny. “The Tijuana experience”. Alicia’s TV Girl Talk, 4(9), 18, 1992. Online.
  • Bill Callahan. “Ex-doctor who served time faces murder charge”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 23, 1998.
  • Paul Ciotti. “Why Did He Cut Off That Man's Leg?: The Peculiar Practice of Dr. John Ronald Brown”. LA Weekly. Dec 15, 1999. Online.
  • Dallas Denny. “Tabletop” John Brown gets his. Transgender Forum, 1999. Online.
  • Michelle Williams. “Transsexuals Tell of Botched Surgeries by Former Doctor”. Associated Press, 29 September 1999. Online.
  • “People v. Brown”. Findlaw, August 02, 2001. Online.
  • Michelle Moore. “Butcher John Ronald Brown”. DallasDenny.com, 2002. http://dallasdenny.com/Writing/2013/11/01/butcher-john-ronald-brown-2002.
  • Gregg Furth & Robert Smith. Apotemnophilia: Information, Questions, Answers, and Recommendations About Self-Demand Amputation. 1stBooks, 2000.
  • Chuck Whitlock. MediScams: How to Spot and Avoid Health Care Scams, Medical Frauds, and Quackery from the Local Physician to the Major Health Care Providers and Drug Manufacturers. Renaissance Books, 2001: chp1; 23-34.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 234, 271-2.
  • Vern L Bullough. “Introduction”. In J. Ari Kane-Demaios and Vern L. Bullough (eds) Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths. Prometheus Books, 2005: 21-2.
  • Robin Marantz Henig. “At War With Their Bodies, They Seek to Sever Limbs”. The New York Times”, March 22, 2005. Online.
  • World's Worst Sex Change Surgeon, dir & scr: Jonah Weston, narrated by Mark Bazeley. UK Channel 4, 10 Apr 2007, 45 mins
  • Carol Anne Davis. Doctors Who Kill: Profiles of Lethal Medics. Allison & Busby, 2011. Chp 27.
  • Bianca London. “Transgender woman left disabled and horrifically disfigured by her plastic surgery addiction warns of dangers of 'quick fixes' and backstreet doctors”. The Daily Mail, 20 August 2013. Online.
  • Stephen. “John Ronald Brown: World’s Worst Sex Change Surgeon”. Stranger than Fiction, April 21, 2016. Online.

Murderpedia     Wikipedia

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