What is Magnus Hirschfeld's theory of sexuality? What does he mean by his Zwischenstufentheorie (theory of intersexual stages)?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hirschfeld's theory of sexuality proposes that sexuality or sexual orientation is innate and not a choice. Being gay is not a sin, a perversion, a sexual deviance, or a disease, but rather an example of natural variation. A person being attracted to someone of the same gender is just as...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Hirschfeld's theory of sexuality proposes that sexuality or sexual orientation is innate and not a choice. Being gay is not a sin, a perversion, a sexual deviance, or a disease, but rather an example of natural variation. A person being attracted to someone of the same gender is just as natural as a person being attracted to someone of the opposite gender. Thus, his theory is based on the concept of sexual difference as well as the naturalness of the "third sex."

Hirschfeld studied different sexual and gender identities; in his 1910 book Die Transvestiten (The Transvestites), he coined the terms transvestite and transsexual. He argued that instead of the typical male and female genders, there are people who are mostly male or mostly female. Men and women are just the opposite ends or poles on a scale of countless intermediate sexes or "sexual intermediaries."

He also believed that being firmly heterosexual or firmly homosexual is not the norm, but rather an exception to the norm, as sexuality is a spectrum.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on