History Repeats

History Repeats

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In my “more years than I can count” that I’ve written for TGF, I’ve focused on issues of interest to transgender issues, history, politics, as well as my own issues (because I have a lot of them.) Today is History (Tragedy tomorrow- history tonight!)

Today I write about Magnus Hirschfeld (1868- 1935), a German doctor and “sexologist.” You see, he was a major figure in LGBTQ history- especially for transgender people. According to Wikipedia, “An outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and World League for Sexual Reform. He based his practice in Berlin-Charlottenburg during the Weimar period. Historian Dustin Goltz characterized the committee as having carried out “the first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights”.” And if it’s in German poster for a talkWikipedia, it must be true, right? In this case, it is correct. In fact, he’s the person who created the term “transvestite” and was the first to argue that transgender people are different from people who are gay, as they were considered “just really gay” back then.

Hirschfeld’s life was quite interesting. He was involved in a major sex scandal in Imperial Germany (as an expert witness), was famous enough to take a world tour, co-wrote a movie, and founded Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (‘Institute of Sexual Research’) in 1919. At the time, homosexuality was outlawed in Germany, due to the infamous Paragraph 175. That was a major issue, as Hirschfeld was a gay Jewish man in a time when either of those descriptors could mean violence or worse. In fact, he was beaten to death by a racist group who preceded the Nazis (he was revived.)

Of course, he encountered a lot of trouble for his work. So why did he do it? Well, many of his patients were gay or trans (word got around that he would treat gay people), and, due to the “shame” of their condition, too many killed themselves. He knew he needed to help.

Nazis burning booksFast forward several years: Hitler came to power, and the brownshirts were enforcing his will violently. The goal was to suppress anything that was non-Aryan, or different in any way. Of course, this became the Holocaust. On May 6, 1933, the Nazis vandalized and looted the Institute, carried its books into the street to create a huge pyre. If you follow history, you’ve seen pictures or even film of this night, as it’s the usual picture you see of Nazi book burning. All of Hirschfeld’s pioneering work was destroyed. By then, he’d left Germany for his “world tour” as he knew the Nazi’s would come for him sooner rather than later. He watched his life’s work burn on a newsreel in a Paris cinema. Hirschfeld never returned to Germany. He died in Nice, France on May 14, 1935.

So why do I bring this up? Obviously because of all the book banning by MAGA fascists, especially due to the work of Moms Against Liberty. However, now they’ve taken the next step in the Nazi playbook. On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, MAGA Valentina Gomez, who is running for Missouri Secretary of State posted a campaign video of herself burning LGBTQ library books with a flamethrower. In the video, she says “This is what I will do to the grooming books when I become secretary of state… These books come from a Missouri public library. When I’m in office, they will burn.” On an X post accompanying it, she wrote “When I’m Secretary of State, I will BURN all books that are grooming, indoctrinating, and sexualizing our children. MAGA. America First.” (I copied these quotes from the Hill’s reporting on the video.)

They’re coming, dear reader. They will win unless ALL of us get out to vote them OUT. All of them, from top to bottom of the ballot. They’ve made their intentions clear. Yes, I’m scared- but that just makes me fight harder.

Be well.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


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