A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).
I can’t say this often enough: the context to this famous image was the Nazis destroying humane, progressive research from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, who researched and campaigned for rights for LGBT people. Where would we be had they not destroyed it? #LGBTHistoryMonth
Hirschfield’s Institute was truly revolutionary. They were firmly on the side of the people who needed care and understanding the most: queer people, trans people, and yes, they believed in women’s liberation, too.
Free treatment was provided to those who could not pay.
The Institute treated trans people, and validated them. They offered surgery and hormones, and worked with the police to stop arrests of people who were “cross dressing”.
All of this research and this groundbreaking medical care was completely at odds with the Nazis. They attacked the Institute, burned the research they had generated. They sent the Institute’s administrator to a concentration camp (luckily he survived and fled)
And I can’t help but think how long it took to claw back to the position that Hirschfeld was working from. This knowledge and care for LGBT people, especially trans folk, was destroyed… and in many places, it’s still not up to the standard that it was in 1930s Berlin.
Where would we be had Nazis not destroyed the knowledge, compassion and understanding of Hirschfeld and his colleagues at the Institute? It’s a question I often find myself asking
It’s worth noting that if you didn’t know this, it’s not your fault. For some reason (🤔), this bit of history, that humane healthcare for trans people and viewing LGBT folk as people existed in the 30s before the Nazis destroyed it, isn’t widely taught.
So anyway, next time you see that book burning picture pulled up, remember Hirschfeld. Remember the Institute. Remember what it stood for. And tell others.
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