The Weimar Project
When many people think of LGBT history, they may look back to the Stonewall riots, or possibly the work of the Mattachine Society in the United States as the beginning of the fight for equality. However, a significant piece of western LGBT history began in Germany. First in the mid to late 1800s, as researchers studied transgender and homosexual identities through a scientific lens, then later in the period between the world wars as Germany’s LGBT community found more freedom to live out of the closet.
In this interwar period Germany had transitioned from an authoritarian monarchy into what we today call the Weimar Republic. It was a massive political and social revolution that allowed some trans and queer people to live authentically. The liberal Weimar Republic ended with right wing parties stirring up antisemitism, moral panic, fears of the Great Depression, the shame of having lost The Great War, and the threat of communist uprisings. But one of the great tragedies of the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust was the nearly complete erasure of this brief gender and sexual revolution.
The purpose of this project is to give a voice to Weimar Germany’s queer people, especially the transgender community. This is a memorial to the many who were murdered, incarcerated, or forced underground by fascist oppressors.
- The Third Sex (Das 3. Geschlecht) - a magazine for and by the trans community
This site, unfinished as it is, has received a great deal of attention, and I’ve been reading some great feedback. I’ve decided to dial back some of the modernization of the language, but still use “transgender” where the use of “transvestite” clearly implies gender identity rather than the simple act of “cross-dressing.” This is for two reasons. One, I want to emphasize to the casual reader that this idea of “transgender” isn’t new. Two, it’s honestly really confusing to read “transvestite man” and know they’re talking about someone who identifies as a woman. The old/original term also robs the subject of their true identity by still referring to them as “male.”