Magnus Hirschfeld: The First Sexologist

If it wouldn’t cause a slip and fall accident, I’d like to pour out a forty of lube from my gallon of Wet Platinum onto the curb as a gesture of respect for my favorite O.G.- Mr. Magnus Hirschfeld- the first Sexologist.


Ever heard the word “transvestite?” Of course you have. You know who came up with that term? That’s right– my man Magnus. Do you know who was the premiere sex positive figurehead over 100 years ago? Yup– it was Hirschy.

Hirschfeld was an unusual mix of being a general practitioner of medicine, a human rights advocate, and a talented writer. This combination allowed him to discuss sex and sexuality from a medical, scientific, and anatomical point of view, in an easy-to-understand manner. And, his findings were backed by both a higher education and personal experience. As a creative writer who was formerly a med student, and is now a sexologist at Condom Depot’s Information Center, I can really relate to this guy.

Aptly nicknamed the ‘Einstein of sex,’ Magnus was a huge pioneer in LGBT rights. In fact, he created the first gay and transgendered advocacy group called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. Keep in mind, Hirschfeld founded this organization in 1897, which was 117 years ago. Talk about being ahead of your time. This was way before latex condoms were even invented!

Back then, there was a German law called Paragraph 187, which deemed homosexuality as being illegal. Under the pseudonym Ramien, Hirschfeld wrote and distributed pamphlets defending the rights of LGBT people, even before creating his now famous committee. This pamphlet led to over 5,000 signatures for the overturning of Paragraph 187.


Hirschfeld didn’t just advocate for homosexual rights, though. He was also a strong voice for feminism. He was a member of the League for the Protection of Mothers which campaigned against the law that female teachers and civil servants could not marry or have children. He also fought for the decriminalization of abortions.

In 1919, he opened the Institute for Sexual Research and the Museum of Sex in Germany. At first, it was very well received by the public and was even a destination for primary school field trips for student all across Europe. On staff physicians at the Institute provided educational services and medical advice and included: a gynecologist, a dermatologist, 2 psychiatrists and an endocrinologist. Additionally, the Institute contained Hirschfeld’s extensive archives and a vast library on sexuality. Sounds like my kind of place!

Sadly, in 1933, emerging Nazi powers destroyed the majority of this human sexuality research by setting his documents and books on fire. In addition to being Jewish, they also considered him to be too liberal, and Nazi’s were not sympathetic to the human rights of LGBT people. However, in 2011 a substantial grant was made by the German government to research his findings and to continue his life’s work about human sexuality and unfair sexual persecution.

Before he passed in Nice in 1935, Hirschfeld has already made his mark on the world. The Society for Human Rights, the first American organization for homosexual freedom was founded in Chicago in 1924 after Henry Gerber was inspired by the work of Hirschfeld. And, his legacy still continues on today– with the sexperts here at Condom Depot, who are willing and able to answer any or all of your questions about sex, safe sex and sexuality.

Source: [Wikipedia]

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The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men's Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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