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20 February 2016

Toni Fricke (189? - 193?) activist

Toni Fricke was living as female in Berlin in the 1920s, and she strongly desired to change her body. She wrote of the “persistent, nerve-murdering (nervenmordenden) psychological pressure” constantly threatening to undermine the health of transvestite individuals, that led to mental health problems, social rejection, and suicides.

Toni underwent blood tests with the Swiss researcher Emil Abderhalden at the University of Halle hoping to prove “that I am, so to say, internally a hermaphrodite”.

She proposed to replace the term 'transvestite' with 'transsensible' for those like herself for whom dressing was not enough.

From 1924 the women's magazine Die Freundin (Girl-friend) included a transvestite section, and Toni was a frequent contributor.

p60 in Sex and the Weimar Republic

  • Toni Fricke, “Der Transvestit: Aus dem Empfindungsleben eines 'Transvestiten'!” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin, no. 2, 12 September 1924, 1–2.
  • Torri Fricke, “Einiges über das Problem der Namensänderung für Transvestiten,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 15, May 1925.
  • Toni Fricke, “Ein Transvestit ist vogelfrei,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 3, no. 18, September 19, 1927, 5–6.
  • Rainer Herrn. “Vom Geschlechtsumwandlungswahn zur Geschlechtsumwandlung”. GenderWunderLand, 1995.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Among Abnormals: The Queer Sexual Politics of Germany’s Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. PhD Thesis, Rutgers University, 2008. :101. PDF
  • Katie Sutton. “Sexological Cases and Prehistory of Transgender Identity Politics in Interwar Germany” In Joy Damousi, Birgit Lang, Katie Sutton (eds). Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge. Rourledge, 2015: 85, 93, 94, 98, 102.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. University of Toronto Press, 2015: 61,63.

Professor Abderhalden’s work is controversial.   At different times he developed blood tests for pregnancy and dementia praecox.   They were initially replicated by other doctors, but then they were discredited.  His theory was extended by Nazi scientists, including Josef Mengele at Auschwitz concentration camp, hoping to find a blood test to separate Aryans from non-Aryans.  There is a debate as to whether Abderhalden was simply grossly mistaken or perpetuated deliberate fraud.  

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