Abstract

This article explores the medical references in the writings of the German jurist and activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs as a means of breaking new ground in diverse fields (including history of medicine, history of sexuality, and gender history). It demonstrates that the theory of bisexuality has a much deeper and more textured genealogy than has been hitherto appreciated and that dual-gendered bodies and minds must be better recognized as important through the nineteenth century. Specifically, it demonstrates that classifications and rhetoric of hermaphroditism, and other dual-gendered categories (e.g., sexual dualism and anatomical bisexuality), were deployed in diverse contexts through the period, often with little or no reference to the occurrence of genital ambiguities. Important discourses in embryology, utilized by Ulrichs, suggested that all individuals, in the earliest stages of fetal development, were hermaphroditic. In making an analogy among the ontogeny of sex anatomy, hermaphroditism, and the development of erotic preferences, Ulrichs sought to naturalize homoeroticism, rendering social and legal prohibitions untenable. His advocacy, however, was counterbalanced by the Prussian forensic expert Johann Ludwig Casper who had made some conceptual maneuvers similar to Ulrichs only couched in the rhetoric of pathology. Ulrichs was equivocal in his use of forensic works such as Casper's, condemning their authors but recognizing similarities with his own gender schema.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-4373
Print ISSN
0022-5045
Pages
pp. 177-216
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-14
Open Access
No
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