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Magnus Hirschfeld

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Magnus Hirschfeld

Perhaps one of the most important pioneers in the field of human sexuality, Magnus Hirschfield was a physician, sexologist and an outspoken advocate for sexual rights and sexual minorities.

In 1921 he organized and founded the First Congress for Sexual Reform.

One of the most significant tasks Hirschfield undertook in his career was to repeal the German Penal Code Paragraph 175 that criminalized homosexuality.

Hirschfield strongly believed that use of science to understand sexuality would provide a more tolerant society and decrease, if not eliminate hostility toward homosexuals.

Through his leadership more than 5000 people signed a petition to repeal Paragraph 175, including Albert Einstein, which is interesting because Hirschfield went on to be referred to as the Einstein of Sex.

Ever the scientist Hirschfield categorized over 64 varieties of sexuality.

He devised his own cataloging system and was interested in more than just homosexuality.

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He was also the first to coin the term Transvestite.

Hirschfield was also an outspoken feminist in that he supported women's rights.

He was an activist for legalizing abortion and allowing female teachers and civil servants from getting married or having children.

A brilliant sexual thinker that was ahead of his time, Hirschfield was forced into exile then the Nazi's came to power.

The Nazi's burned all of his books and destroyed his Institute for Sexual Science.

This happened while out of the country on a book tour and he never again set foot in Germany.

He died in France in 1935 but left quite a legacy.

Many recognized Hirschfield for the great sexual thinker he was and for one of the first to champion homosexual rights.

In 1982 the Magnus Hirschfield Society was formed to study sexuality and gender.

In 2011 Germany approved funding for the Magnus Hirschfield Foundation which supports and funds education about his life, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals and German LGBT culture to help fight against prejudice against LGBT persons.

Learn more about Magnus Hirschfeld with these books:

• Magnus Hirschfeld and the Quest for Sexual Freedom:
A History of the First International Sexual Freedom Movement

• Transvestites: The Erotic Drive To Cross Dress

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