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Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960$
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Veronika Fuechtner, Douglas E. Haynes, and Ryan M. Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293373

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293373.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Magnus Hirschfeld’s Onnagata

Magnus Hirschfeld’s Onnagata

(p.374) Sixteen Magnus Hirschfeld’s Onnagata
Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960

Rainer Herrn

, Michael T. Taylor
University of California Press

This chapter examines the circulation of sexual scientific knowledge between Germany and Japan by focusing on onnagata (Japanese “female impersonators”), which was included by Magnus Hirschfeld as cultural figures in his so-called Wall of Sexual Transitions. Hirschfeld created the Wall of Sexual Transitions to illustrate his “theory of sexual transitions” for the 1913 international Physicians' Congress in London. The chapter first provides an overview of the beginnings of the homosexual movement in Germany and the controversies it engendered, highlighting the important role played by the first reception of the traditions of Japanese samurai and male homosexuality in Japanese theater. It then considers Hirschfeld's idea of transvestitism and his 1931 visit to Japan, and how his reinterpretation of the onnagata influenced his own conception of transvestitism. It also shows how sexual ethnography emerged as an important field of sexual science that served to delineate ideological differences between European scientists and activists.

Keywords:   transvestitism, Germany, Japan, onnagata, Magnus Hirschfeld, Wall of Sexual Transitions, sexual transitions, male homosexuality, sexual science, sexual ethnography

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