On This Day

Magnus Hirschfeld

Physician and Gay Rights Advocate Magnus Hirschfeld

Profession: Physician and Gay Rights Advocate


Biography: Magnus Hirschfeld was a physician and one of the founding figures of the modern gay rights movement and the man who coined the term "transvestite". As a gay man Hirschfeld's cause was personal. He was also greatly affected by the trial of Oscar Wilde in 1895.

In 1897 he set up, with others, the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in Berlin with the aim of abolishing Paragraph 175 in the German Criminal Code that allowed for males engaging in homosexual acts to be imprisoned and their civil rights revoked.

In 1919 he founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, with the aim of conducting research into sexual science and providing medical care, especially for trans-gendered people. Some of the first gender reassignment surgery took place at the Institute, for Dora Richter in 1919 and later Lili Elbe .

The Institute was destroyed by the Nazi's in 1933 and Hirschfeld forced to flee.

Born: May 14, 1868
Birthplace: Kolberg, Prussia
Star Sign: Taurus

Died: May 14, 1935 (aged 66)
Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Historical Events

  • 1897-05-15 The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee is founded in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld, the first-ever LGBT rights organization
  • 1919-07-06 Institute for Sexual Science opened in Berlin by physician Magnus Hirschfeld to establish study of sexual science

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