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Biography Critique Essay History Humanities Law/Legal Natural Sciences Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

The Transvestites: The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress

By Magnus Hirschfeld, 1910/1992

Update: we are saddened to learn that the translator has requested a takedown of this text. We are currently looking into open access options but the text will not be available on Trans Reads for now. Please contact us if you have any questions.


For the first time in history, we are proud to announce the 1992 translation of Magnus Hirschfeld’s famous 1910 text is available to read for free online. This text combines all parts (1-3) of the translated text.

You can access the first and second editions of the original German text on Trans Reads, as well (Die Transvestiten: eine Untersuchung über den erotischen Verkleidungstrieb mit umfangreichem casuistischen und historischen Material).

“Transvestites are women and men who feel reluctant and even refuse to dress in the clothing of their own sex. For them, the inherent drive to cross-dress is often more powerful than sexual drive itself. This phenomenon has often been confronted with both ignorance and prejudice. Transvestites have been subjected not only to discrimination but also to criminal prosecution for following what, for them, was an inborn inclination. Dr. Hirschfeld created this book to establish a body of knowledge about an often misunderstood topic and to strip away long held prejudices. This classic gender study, first published in Germany in 1910 and newly translated, explores all aspects of transvestism: social, physical and emotional.

Transvestism is a firmly rooted psychological phenomenon and cultural tradition, in spite of religious, legal and social sanctions. Written 80 years ago, this book was and still is the most comprehensive treatise on the subject of transvestism, illustrating that while styles have changed, the enthusiasm of devotees has not.

Part I introduces transvestites with sympathetic, often amusing case histories, defines symptoms, and explains their basic, erotic character.

Part II explores the forceful drive to cross-dress and examines clothing as a form of expression of personality.

Part III addresses the historical, legal, anthropological, and social aspects of transvestism, and includes fascinating chapters on transvestism as it relates to the Bible, law and criminality, and women in the military.

This book conclusively demonstrates that transvestism is a natural extension of the infinite variations of human personality.”

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