Between pride and setbacks

After two years of confinement, the LGBT+ march was a decisive event on the Mexico City stage. In addition to the display of color and anger at the delay of the Head of Government, the scope of her dedication made this 44th anniversary an unprecedented exercise. With the slogan: “The streets are ours! For a diversity free of hate, violence and machismo”, the discrimination against women, the lack of recognition of lesbianism and the inequity that marks transgender, transvestite and transsexual groups were denounced.

It is encouraging to see that pride transcends the public thoroughfare and is gaining more and more ground in legislation. We are excited that the symbolism inscribed in the rainbow is replicated in cultural centers and shops, as well as that we can see the kilometer-long trans flag displayed in one of the buildings of the Foreign Relations complex in Plaza Juárez, right in front of the hemicycle dedicated to the hero of respect to the right of another.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, individuals born in the 21st century conceive inclusion as a logical consequence of reason and understand it as a shared duty between government and society. The reality is that we are still a long way from that. Nothing has been easy, despite the fact that there are many, many and many who are outraged at the attempted transfemicide of the activist Natalia Lane and others. You cannot cover the sun with a finger: Mexico continues to be, after Brazil, the most violent country in the Americas for LGBT+ populations.

Like Sappho, the members of the Sacred Battalion of Thebes, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Elton John, Magnus Hirshfield was attracted to people of the same sex. Born in 1868 in Kolberg (Germany), Hirshfield was a Jewish doctor, sexologist and naturalist who dared to affirm that human beings are a unique and unrepeatable combination of masculine and feminine traits.

Documenting his scientific conjectures with a deep observation of the behavior of men, women and children, the German intellectual developed the theory of intersexuality and from a very young age he pushed for a sexual reform. The also socialist proposed changes to the ideas of marriage, demographic policy and information on eroticism. Founder of the Human-Scientific Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee), the researcher never left the military due to the abolition of art. 175 of the Imperial Penal Code and the criminalization of homosexuality.

The paradox that hovers around the figure of Magnus Hirshfield speaks to us of injustice and prejudice, because far from making any progress in the rights of diversity and a guarantee for its free expression, in the twenties of the last century, the man was seen as “a corrupt and homosexual Jew”, “renegade of customs” and a “public danger”. Something similar happened with his archive and his investigations, accused of being part of a false “Jewish conspiracy” and burned by the Nazis in 1933.

Despite being born male and coming from a conservative family, Hirshfield had a feminist streak with prophetic qualities. As a promoter of the League for the Protection of the Mother for the abolition of the paragraph on abortion (art. 218 of the Imperial Penal Code), his empathetic reason fought for the right to decide of women, arguing one of the first objections to the prohibition or rather, to the existence of laws that guarantee the legal interruption of pregnancy.

In these dark times in which closure seems to be avant-garde and historically enlightened nations and supposedly related to humanity dilute all progress with retrograde laws, it is necessary to review the contributions of characters like Magnus Hirshfield.

Hopefully the world does not exhaust his quality of learning and reconsidering.

Linda Atach Zaga

art historian

Linda Atach Zaga is a Mexican art historian, artist, and curator. Since 2010 she has been the director of the Temporary Exhibitions Department of the Memory and Tolerance Museum in Mexico City.

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