Magnus Hirschfeld’s 1899 psychobiological questionnaire: the paradoxes of de-narrativizing sexual and gender nonconformity

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The first scientific questionnaire to establish gender and sexual
“intermediate” identities “objectively” was published in 1899 by the internationally renowned sexologist and pioneer of LGBTI emancipation, Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935). In this article, I show that this questionnaire changed how interactions took place between psycho-medical professionals and people who did not conform to sexual or gender norms. Rhetorically, the questionnaire created a delicate balance between self-expression and objectification of the subject. It broke down already existing semiautobiographical case histories into a list of characteristics, behaviour, and inclinations; all predicated on a conventional binary view of gender. I conclude that the questionnaire paradoxically activated and reified conventionally binary-gendered phenomena precisely by offering gender nonconformist people a robust frame for (gender-fluid) self-understanding; an inheritance still haunting us today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599–617
Number of pages19
JournalIntellectual History Review
Volume32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Hirschfeld
  • LGBTI
  • gender
  • non-binary
  • questionnaire
  • self-narration

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