The Homosexuality of Men and Women


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One of the founders of the scientific study of sex, Magnus Hirschfeld, M.D. (1868-1935), led the field in objective examinations of homosexuality, transvestism, and gender identity. The Homosexuality of Men and Women was designed to provide a unified, comprehensive description of homosexuality which would rid heterosexuals of homophobic prejudice and allow gays and lesbians to accept themselves and stop feeling isolated.

This encyclopedic study opens with a definition and a detailed biological diagnosis of orientation, including the childhood and adolescent phases. Hirschfeld addresses the physical, mental, and emotional life, while explaining the differences between friendship and same-sex love; genuine and false homosexuality; and the inborn nature of homosexuality and bisexuality. He also disputes the theory that homosexuality is treatable.

In the second half of the book, Hirschfeld looks at sociology: community life, bonding, roles in society, history, persecution, victimization, and the law. His documentation of gays in the military and the "new technology" of his day-such as the telephone and airplanes and their affect on the lives of homosexuals-offers farsighted observations that strongly parallel today's national debates and new developments.