Sunday, November 05, 2017

What Is New Is Really Old

For many trans people changing their documentation is a right of passage; we look forward to changing our name and then our Social Security ID, driver license, and birth certificate. However back in the 1930s over in Germany you could also get an ID card.
Berthe, later Berthold, Buttgereit’s travel pass makes no mention of tranvestitism. But “B.B. is not forbidden to wear man’s clothes” was written on the back. LANDESARCHIV BERLIN/LAB A REP. 341-04 NR. 1087

The Early 20th-Century ID Cards That Kept Trans People Safe From Harassment
The radical days of the Weimar Republic, just before the rise of Nazism.
Atlas Obscura
By Natasha Frost
November 02, 2017


atharina T., a resident of Berlin in the early 20th century, had a deep voice and masculine appearance, and preferred to wear men’s clothing at home and in public. In 1908, they—there’s no record of which pronoun Katharina preferred—went to visit the sexual reformer and “sexologist” Magnus Hirschfeld, to apply for official documentation that would allow them to wear men’s clothing in public: a “transvestite pass.”

Perhaps dozens of these passes were granted by German police between 1909 and 1933, the year Adolf Hitler became chancellor. The term “transvestitism” at that time encompassed people of all gender identities, from those who occasionally wore men’s or women’s clothes on weekends, to those who today might well identify instead as transgender, a term that was not in common usage at the time. Cross-dressing individuals were vulnerable to arbitrary decisions of the police, usually according to how well they “passed.” While it wasn’t illegal to cross-dress, per se, the practice often led to charges of being a “public nuisance,” which could mean six weeks’ imprisonment or a fine of 150 marks—and police were “often keen to exercise their extensive regulatory powers,” writes historian Kate Caplan in “The Administration of Gender Identity in Nazi Germany,” a 2011 paper in History Workshop Journal.
Back then as now the proper ID could make life easier, but like now you had to be able to afford the documents.

Just back in the 50s, 60s and 70s you could get arrested for not wearing three items of clothing of your birth gender and we rebelled when police raided bars and cafeterias to check for “deviants.” Now the oppression is being renewed by the current administration and it is beginning to look like the 1930s again.

The picture of the brown shirts burning the books of the Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research is now being repeated with the “white shirts” of white supremacist.

A member of the paramilitary Nazi Sturmabteilung throws confiscated books into a bonfire during the public burning of “un-German” books in Berlin in 1933. PUBLIC DOMAIN


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