Due to recent events, it has become necessary to research the history of the transsexual condition.1 The central question is this: was transsexuality tolerated in the Third Reich? A resounding “no” is usually touted as truth, but this was not the case. Before arriving at an unexpected answer, it will be of utmost importance to outline what the National Socialist government did not tolerate under any circumstance.
Transvestism and homosexuality were absolutely banned in Germany during the period of 1933-45. Punishments for these aberrations ranged from prison sentences to chemical castrations. What was taboo in these two conditions was their tendency to destroy what is masculine and what is feminine, to blur the lines between the sexes—in a word, to decline the German birthrate, which had been abysmal during the Weimar period.
There was hardly any distinction between these two aberrations from healthy human sexuality; even if a man were to dress like a woman in private, he would be investigated for homosexual tendencies, although exceptions could be made and certificates for legal transvestism issued or extended.2 National Socialism conceived of transvestism as a sort of trickery that would fester homosexual tendencies in otherwise healthy people, and, as such, it was banned from public view and (in most cases) the private domain.
On top of the destruction of the gender polarity, National Socialists saw a correlation between homosexuality and criminality. Often, transvestites would be involved in prostitution or other deviant activities, much like “traps” today. What a detriment to society this would have been, and what a detriment it remains! All in all, it is no surprise that these perversions were outlawed and prosecuted during the period of German rebirth, and it is no surprise that legal castrations were sought by homosexuals to be free of their degenerate sex drives.
Despite this legal and moral context, we find a toleration for and even sanctioning of transsexuality proper during the Third Reich. Transsexuality proper, meaning a total attempt at change of sex, was actually recognized as a boon to both personal health—when, and if, the patient in question was suffering in his natural sex and severely manifested the need to change. Of course, there will be found hardly any material related to transsexuality proper due to its total infrequency (which is to be expected in a healthy society)—but enough material exists for the subject to matter.
In the paper Transvestitismus in die NS-Zeit and a recent dissertation by Volker Weiß on the development of transsexuality throughout history, we discover a case in which transsexuality proper (along with surgical intervention) was tolerated during the National Socialist period. Even more shocking than this, however, is that fostering a child was not beyond the realm of possibility for the transsexual woman.
This particular transsexual had for eight years sought to become a woman and was castrated in 1931. Placed in a mental institution due to charges of schizophrenia, which he would claim to be false, he became extremely distressed about his life situation. Threatening suicide if surgery was not carried out to complete his transition, in a diary he wrote of being terrified of remaining a man forever and of receiving no further medical intervention. This situation changed, however, in 1934, when he was granted both a legal name change (taking on the name Toni) and permission to wear women’s clothing.
After reporting that she had become happy and balanced, there was consideration for further surgical intervention. Toni requested that a functional vagina be crafted; between 1939 and 1940, she began a series of surgeries which would result in a “Vagina artificialis.” While Toni had been given the approval for legal change of sex marker even earlier than this (October 1934), it was not fully processed and applied until 1948, three years after the fall of the Reich.
Because Toni’s condition was not brought about by fetishistic transvestism or homosexuality, she was allowed after these surgeries to utilize her femaleness according to the National Socialist ideology of the sexes. The test of her femininity would ultimately culminate in foster care. After training at the Mutterschule (mother’s school) in the winter of 1940-1, she would begin looking after a four-week old daughter.
There is one other concrete case to analyze, though it did not end in explicit sex-reconstruction surgery: Henriette (Hinrich) B. She is distinguished from cases of transsexuality that were started or “completed” during the Weimar period.
On July 21 of 1941, police investigator Hans-Heinrich Huelke had to process Hinrich B on suspicion of homosexuality. In the hearing, Hinrich was determined to have been born in 1908, to have never desired sex with women, to have dressed exclusively in women’s clothing while working as a bar maid starting in 1925, and to have had sexual contact with a man in the same year (age 17). He desired at that point to self-castrate because “he felt as a woman and wanted to be such.”3 So convincing was Hinrich that men who had courted him had no idea that he was male before the act; this factored into the determination of whether or not homosexuality was present.
For avoidance of military service, he was sentenced to six months in prison. In 1943, he sought through medical officials to avoid further trouble legally and morally by requesting total removal of sex organs and subsequent change of name to Henriette, which were both granted in Hannover. This was seen as the most humane solution to the problem.
Huelke reflected on the distinction of transsexuality proper from transvestism by way of this case. While transvestism encourages and promotes homosexual activities and thoughts, transsexuality proper reflects the natural gender order in a roundabout way: by adapting as close as possible to the female form, one functions as a female within the sexual dynamic and promotes heterosexual images. Rather than blurring the gender line, or masculinizing women and feminizing men, transsexuality proper reinforces the split between the sexes in its recognition of the painful difference between bodily maleness and femaleness.
In the context of punishment for transvestic and homosexual degeneracy, one would assume that transsexuality proper would be just as taboo in the Third Reich. On the contrary, because transsexuality either eliminated homosexual propensities in surgery or positively adapted the male-to-female transsexual for the opposite sex role, it was tolerated (quietly, of course). Due to the low frequency of legitimate cases of transsexuality, this should not come as a surprise; much unlike our own time, the threat of punishment for degeneracy ensured that only the truly suffering transsexual proper would seek medical and legal intervention.4 Medical and legal approval of transsexuality proper in the Reich never meant approval of degeneracy, but approval of the attempt of a niche population to live the most functional lives possible in the most healthy society ever to exist.
1While it’s certainly true that this post will be more personally oriented than others, the most objective possible outlook is given here with the facts at the forefront.
2For example, Gerda von Zobeltitz of Berlin.
3“…er fühlte als Frau und wollte auch eine solche sein.”
4Because of the current liberal and Jewish attacks on the family unit and heterosex, transsexuality is turned from a legitimate illness requiring surgical intervention and affirmation of the appropriate sex role into some sort of monstrous gender-weapon, a weapon that aims to dismantle the sex roles entirely to grant “sexual freedom” to all deviants. In this milieu of “freedom” many end up having medical interventions which are not necessary, paralleled by lives characterized by worthless acts of depravity and debauchery. These degenerates, who universally end up dysfunctional and depressed, are certainly the transsexual norm, but they cannot claim the title of transsexual proper. The rates of suicide for transsexuality are extremely high due to this multitudinous, filthy dross; transsexuality proper is only signified by intense suffering and dysfunction in the original sex role and intense happiness and productivity in the new one.
Herrn, Rainer. “Transvestitismus in Der NS-Zeit.” Zeitschrift Für Sexualforschung 26.04 (2013): 330-71. Thieme. Web.
Weiß, Volker. “Eine Weibliche Seele Im Männlichen Körper.” Diss. FU Berlin, 2008. Eine Weibliche Seele Im Männlichen Körper. FU Berlin, 19 Feb. 2010. Web.