This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

18 February 2023

Toni Simon (1887 - 1979) cafe owner, high voltage tester, pornography smuggler

Simon was raised in Thuringia with the name of Anton. Father was a blacksmith. Even as a child Simon wore girls’ clothes whenever possible, and was pleased to do housework for mother. At age 17 Simon volunteered for the cavalry to avoid service in the infantry where his ‘girlish’ gait would be mocked, but was mocked anyway. After three years of service, Simon became a machinist in a bicycle factory. A marriage to a woman in 1908 resulted in five children. Simon worked in breweries and tanneries, went to sea as a stoker and herring fisherman, and worked as a bridge builder in northern cities such as Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. When the war started in August 1914 Simon was running a business selling newspapers and maps – which was taken over by his wife when he was conscripted. After 1918 Simon opened a restaurant in the Ruhr area, and in 1923 opened Café 4711 in Essen's Segerothstraße, which also acted as a “neuer Damenklub” for Essen’s transvestites. Herr and Frau Simon separated in 1927 and their divorce was finalised in 1932. 

Simon was arrested several times for illegal beer sales from the secret bottle cellar of Café 4711. In August 1929, Simon was summoned to appear before the Essen district court, and appeared in women's clothes. The judge found this "improper", and imposed an administrative fine of 100 marks. Simon's appearance caused a stir not only in the Ruhr press, but also in the Berlin transvestite scene. Simon wrote an account which appeared in the magazine Die Freundin (The Girlfriend – a lesbian magazine with trans content) asking whether he should appear again "als Dame (as a lady)" at the next trial. A reader from Upper Bavaria, who would also "rather be a woman", expressed indignation at the judgement of the Essen district court and recommended that Simon obtain official permission to wear female clothing, a Transvestitenschein.

Toni Simon in the 1930s

In June 1930 Simon had written to the Friedrich Radszuweit (1876-1932) publishing house advising against a new magazine especially for transvestites in that "A transvestite doesn't read a transvestite magazine, because he'd rather spend his money on nice stockings". 

By then Simon was undergoing a deep personal crisis, and turned to Elsbeth Ebertin (more) (1880-1944) the most prominent of the first female astrologers and a prolific author who had achieved fame after she drew up a horoscope on an unnamed person who was later revealed to be Adolf Hitler, and who had published a book on homosexuality in 1909 (Auf Irrwegen der Liebe) where she counted transvestites among a sixth group of homosexuals: those who are "all too in need of love", and who only stray into "sexual aberrations" out of the "exuberance of their feelings" or out of "sexual need".

Simon told Ebertin how she had wanted to be a girl since early childhood, had often had thoughts of suicide, transvested on the street, and how having been in love only three times, always with a woman, but often fantasized about love with men. Simon claimed to have been the editor of a transvestite magazine (but which one was not specified). The actual editors of Die Freundin had been incensed by the letter to Radszuweit, but otherwise supported Simon who was open about transvesting, freely used her name and provided photographs. 

By 1932 Simon was completely impoverished and had had to close Café 4711. At the Essen criminal court 19 January 1932 Simon als Dame presented a Transvestitenschein. The charges of serving alcohol without permission, organising public dances and "insulting public officials in a way that was dangerous to the public" were upheld, but the charge of “groben Unfugs (gross mischief)” was dropped given that the accused had a Transvestitenschein. Simon was fined 25 marks. 

Based on the letters and newspaper articles that Simon had provided, Elsbeth Ebertin wrote a pamphlet Mann oder Frau! Das Schicksal einer Abenteurer-Natur (Man or Woman:The Fate of an Adventurer's Nature) which told of Simon and included two photographs and was published in Hamburg.

After the Nazi takeover in 1933, Simon’s Transvestitenschein was cancelled. After a short prison sentence, Simon emigrated to Spain, but returned after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936, and obtained work as a fitter.

23 October 1937 Anton Simon was charged by the Special Court of Stuttgart with “Heimtücke (insidiousness - political insult according to § 2 paras. 1 and 2 of the Nazi law of 20 December 1934)” having been denounced for criticizing the then government as idiots and rascals. Simon was sentenced to one year in prison – this was served in the Rottenburg am Neckar prison. 11 May 1938 Simon was granted amnesty on the basis of the "Law on Obtaining Immunity from Punishment" of 30 April 1938 and the remaining sentence was commuted to three years' probation. After release, Simon worked in a metal processing company.

Simon was convicted again and imprisoned for six months in the Welzheim police prison/concentration camp at the end of 1939.

Toni Simon in the 1950s
In 1949 Simon was living in a caravan in Swabia and applied for reparations under the 1949 compensation law for the time in the Rottenburg prison and in the Welzheim police prison as well as for the three years spent in Spanish exile. The proceedings dragged on into 1952, with repeated appeals against the court decisions. Simon’s lawyer repeatedly obtained freeze periods during which the proceedings were suspended, while Simon was to produce new evidence, but was unable to do so. The previous convictions, especially the pre-1933 ones counted against her application.

Simon worked as a tester of high-voltage pylons. In this, and in the applications for reparations, she was referred to as Anton and Herr Simon. At the same time she was considered as a survivor of the pre-war queer scene in Stuttgart, and worked with the gay group Kameradschaft die runde which met in Stuttgart pubs. She arranged meetings and dances, and ‘Toni Simon’ was mentioned in advertisements in the local press. Her Transvestitenschein had been restored in 1951.

She supplemented her pension in the 1950s by smuggling in queer pornography from Denmark which at that time had a more liberal attitude to such publications.

Toni Simon died age 92.

  • Toni Simon. „Angeklagter in Frauenkleidern. Die Welt der Transvestiten“. Die Freundin, 5,13, 1929.
  • Elsbeth Ebertin. Mann oder Frau! Das Schicksal einer Abenteurer-Natur. Dreizack-Verlag, 1933.
  • Rainer Herrn. Schnittmuster des Geschlechts: Transvestitismus und Transsexualität in der frühen Sexualwissenschaft. Psychosozial-Verlag, 2005: 140, 144.
  • Raimund Wolfert: „Zu schön, um wahr zu sein: Toni Simon als ‚schwule Schmugglerin‘ im dänisch-deutschen Grenzverkehr“ Lambda Nachrichten 32, 133, 2010: 36–39. Online.
  • Katie Sutton. “ ‘We Too Deserve a Place in the Sun’: The Politics of Transvestite Identity in Weimar Germany”. German Studies Review, 35,2, 2012.
  • Julia Noah Munier & Karl-Heinz Steinle. “Wiedergutmachung von Transvestiten und Damenimitatoren nach 1945”. LSBTTIQ in Baden und Württemberg: Lebenswelten, Repression und Verfolgung im Nationalsozialismus und in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 21. Dezember 2017. Online.
  • Karl-Heinz Steinle. “Toni Simon, geb. als Anton Simon”. Sie machen Geschichte: Lesbische, Schwule, Bisexuelle, Transsexuelle, Transgender, Intersexuelle, Queere, Menschen in Baden Württemberg.:22-3. Online.

12 February 2023

Did Hirschfeld coin the word and concept ‘transsexual’?

It is often claimed that Magnus Hirschfeld in 1923 anticipated David Cauldwell (1949) and Harry Benjamin (1953) in coining the term ‘transsex*’ by using the expression ‘seelischer transsexualismus’ or ‘seelischen transsexualismus’, either of which can be rendered in English as psychic, psychological or mental transsexuality,

However this is not really the case.

First some of the claims that he did:

Transgender Tapestry, 79 Summer 1997 p9.

“In this paper, ‘The Intersexual Constitution’, published in the Yearbook for Sexual Intermediate Stages 1923, he became the first researcher to distinguish what he called “transsexualism” from transvestism. He described transsexualism as the adoption of the gender role opposite to their sex by men or women who held an unswerving conviction they were assigned to an incorrect sex. That was a pretty good effort at the time and in the pertaining social environment.”
  • Pamela L. Caughie and Sabine Meyer. “Introduction”. Lili Elbe: Man into Woman: A Comparative Scholarly Edition.2020:15. 
"Hirschfeld first used the term “transsexualism” (Transsexualismus), a subcategory of the term “transvestitism,” in his 1923 essay “The Intersexual Constitution” published in The Yearbook for Sexual Intermediaries. In this paper, he defines transsexualism as the adoption of the gender role opposite to their sex by men or women who held an unswerving conviction they were assigned to the wrong sex. The new term (seelischer Transsexualismus, or mental transsexualism) served to distinguish those who see themselves as the other sex (“neurological gynandromorphs”), no matter what their primary or secondary sex characteristics may be, from physiological hermaphrodites.”
  • Katie Sutton. Sex between Body and Mind: Psychoanalysis and Sexology in the German-speaking World, 1890s–1930s. University of Michigan Press, 2019: 177.
“Nonetheless, Hirschfeld did acknowledge at least the theoretical possibility that male-to-female transvestite tendencies could also coincide with homosexual desires, as in a 1923 article he defined the five chief varieties of transvestism as heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, narcissistic, and asexual, and also introduced the term ‘psychological transsexualism’ (seelischer Transsexualismus), paving the way for later, more surgically oriented discourses.”
  • Aaron Devor & Aedel Haefele-Thomas. Transgender: A Reference Handbook. ABC-Clio, 2019: 47. 
“The pioneering German Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld published what was probably the first scientific article using a German variant term (seelischer transsexualismus)”.
  • Andreas Krass „Queer Fictions of Berlin”. In Janin Afken & Benedikt Wolf. Sexual Culture in Germany in the 1970s, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019: 81. 
"And in 1923, Hirschfeld coined the term ‘mental transsexualism’ (seelischer Transsexualismus) thus for the first time separating transsexuality from transvestism and homosexuality.”
  • Franziska Hofmann in her Transsexualität. Wenn Körper und Seele nicht zusammenpassen, 2008: 
"In his sexual science résumé Geschlechtskunde, Hirschfeld describes the desire for a sex change as an extreme form of transvestitism. He coined the term "seelischer Transsexualismus" for it and used it to describe people who try to adapt to the other sex not only through clothing but also physically. However, he used the terms transvestitism and transsexualism synonymously.”
  • Rainer Hernn. Schnittmuster des Geschlechts: Transvestitismus und Transsexualität in der frühen Sexualwissenschaft. Psychosozial-verlag, 2005: 219-200. 
“The fact that Benjamin knew Hirschfeld's work very well and was aware of the sex changes carried out at the Institute as well as the use of the term "seelischer Transsexualismus" (Hirschfeld 1923, p. 14), must have been a sign of such intensive contact. … It is very surprising that he nevertheless does not pay due tribute to Hirschfeld as the originator of the term "transsexual" and does not refer to the Institute's practice of gender reassignment with a single syllable

Let us see what Hirschfeld actually wrote. 

He gave a lecture, Die intersexuelle Konstitution at the Hygienic Institute of the University of Berlin on 16 March 1923, which was then printed in the Jahrbuch fur sexuelle Zwischenstufen:

“Verfolgen wir die Intersexualität von der Homosexualität aus über die gynandromorphe Körperlichkeit und den seelischen Transsexualismus nach beiden Seiten weiter, so gelangen wir in lückenhafter Konstitutionsreihe auf der einen Reihe zu den Vorstufen des Hermaphroditismus, auf der anderen zu der metatropischen Gefühlseinstellung gegenüber dem andern Geschlecht, der Agressionsinversion.“

Which is rendered into English by DeepL translation software as:

“If we follow intersexuality from homosexuality via gynandromorphic corporeality and psychological transsexualism to both sides, we arrive at the preliminary stages of hermaphroditism, on the one hand, and the metatropic emotional attitude towards the opposite sex, the inversion of aggression, on the other.”

Hirschfeld does not define “seelischen Transsexualismus”, here or anywhere else. It would seem to mean intersex conditions without physical causation and therefore would include homosexuality, transvestism and transsexuality. He is certainly not using the term as Cauldwell and Benjamin did 30 years later to distinguish trans persons wishing surgical and hormonal changes from oscillating cross-dressers.

Apparently Hirschfeld never used the term a second time.

In my opinion Benjamin did not pay due tribute to Hirschfeld as the originator of the term "transsexual", as Herrn says that he should have, in that Benjamin did not regard Hirschfeld’s odd usage in Die intersexuelle Konstitution as using the word in the same way.

The Coining of Words

To coin a term you have to a) be one of the first to use the term b) use it almost in the same way as it is later used by other writers or speakers.

(As we have discussed elsewhere Virginia Prince did not coin ‘transgender’ in that a) she was not the first to use it, b) on the very few times she did use it, she used it in a very idiosyncratic way c) she remained very antagonistic to its inclusive usage.)

(Hirschfeld did not coin any ‘transv*’ words in that such had been in use in Italian, French and English since the 17th century and even earlier. Hirschfeld’s first transv* word, i.e. Transvestitenschein, was copied from the French term and practice of Permission de Travestissement which the French police had been issuing since 1800.)

Some writers who read Die intersexuelle Konstitution as I do.

“It seems useful to clarify that, when Cauldwell used the words ‘psychopathia transexualis’, he described the condition known today as transsexualism. But when Hirschfeld used the words seelischer Transsexualismus he did not define the meaning of these words and did not describe the condition known today as transsexualism; in this paper he studied ‘die intersexuelle Konstitution’, and in his works in general he spoke of Transvestiten. It took about ten years after 1953 for the distinction between transvestism and transsexualism to be clearly adopted.”
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 19. 
“He [Hirschfeld] considered transvestism “a harmless inclination,” and he included in the transvestite group those with crossgender identification as well as those who crossdressed. (In an article published in 1923, Hirschfeld used the term seelischen Transsexualismus, or spiritual transsexualism, which he associated with a form of “inversion,” but he did not use the word transsexual the way we use it today. For people who hoped to change their sex, he used the word transvestite.)”
  • Susan Faludi. In the Dark Room. Henry Holt and Company, 2016 : 156. 
“In a journal article in 1923, Hirschfeld remarked that some of his transvestite patients were expressing feelings that might be described as “seelischer Transsexualismus,” or spiritual transsexualism, but he wasn’t referring to the condition the word denotes today. He never separated out transsexuality as a category or regarded it as an identity.”

Uses of the word Transsexual* before 1950 that do not anticipate the modern usage.

1923 Magnus Hirschfeld – as discussed above.

1928 Viennese mental hygienist Erwin Stransky. Subordination, Autorität, Psychotherapie: Eine Studie vom Standpunkt des klinischen Empirikers. Vienna: Julius Springer, 1928 used the twinned terms Transsexualität/Asexualität, the former being a variation on Freud’s Pansexualismus.

1948 Alfred Kinsey, Wardel Pomeroy & Clyde Martin. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. W B Saunders Company, 1948: 612. 

“The term homosexual has had an endless list of synonyms in the technical vocabularies and a still greater list in the vernaculars. The terms homogenic love, contrasexuality, homo-erotism, similisexualism, uranism and others have been used in English. The terms sexual inversion, intersexuality, transsexuality, the third sex, psychosexual hermaphroditism, and others have been applied not merely to designate the nature of the partner involved in the sexual relation, but to emphasize the general opinion that individuals engaging in homosexual activity are neither male nor female, but persons of mixed sex. These latter terms are, however, most unfortunate, for they provide an interpretation in anticipation of any sufficient demonstration of the fact; and consequently they prejudice investigations of the nature and origin of homosexual activity.”

03 February 2023

Countries where trans persons may self-id (no psychiatric or other medial assessment or treatment required)

2010 Council of Europe resolution calling for self-id

2012 Argentina

2014 Denmark

Slightly out of date: add Spain & Finland

Amnesty appealed for "quick, accessible and transparent procedures and in accordance with their own perceptions of gender identity"

2015 Colombia




2016 Bolivia (a psychological examination attesting that the petitioner consents is required)


2017 Belgium


         Newfoundland & Labrador

         France (application to a court is required)

2018 Brazil

         Costa Rica (after a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights)


States and provinces not shown


2019 Uruguay





          Nova Scotia

2022 Switzerland



         British Columbia

         Scotland (vetoed by UK Govt)

2023 New Zealand/Aotearoa

Note re Mexico:  No national law as such, but 20 states/cities have introduced self-id.

2014 Mexico City

2017 Michoacan


2018 Coahuila

2019 Hidalgo

         San Luis Potosi





2020 Sonora


        Quintana Roo

2021 Puebla

         Baja California Sur

         Mexico State/Edomex


2022 Baja California