Volume 5, Number 2, April - June 2001
Special Issue on David O. Cauldwell (1897-1959): Classic Reprints Series
If David Oliver Cauldwell is known to readers of the International Journal of Transgenderism, it is probably as the man who, supposedly, gave us the word 'transsexual'. This issue of the journal focuses on Cauldwell's work and reprints a number of his publications on transsexuality.
The introductory paper "Pioneers of Transgendering: The Popular Sexology of David O. Cauldwell" by Richard Ekins and Dave King provides the context for Cauldwell's subsequently presented main writings on transsexuality. The authors provide a definitive discussion of the early history of the term 'transsexual'. They note that whilst Cauldwell was the first writer to begin a systematic separation of the category of transsexuality from hermaphroditism and transvestism, he did not coin the term 'transsexualism', as Cauldwell, himself, and most subsequent writers claim. That honour should go to Magnus Hirschfeld who, in 1923, first mentioned the term 'seelischer Transsexualismus' [psychic transsexualism].
Cauldwell's article "Psychopathia Transexualis" (1949) Sexology, 16: 274-280 is followed by "Desire for Surgical Transformation" from Effects of Castration on Men and Women (1947), one of Cauldwells booklets published by Haldeman-Julius. Two further Haldeman-Julius booklets: Questions and Answers on the Sex Life and Sexual Problems of Trans-Sexuals (1950); and Sex Transmutation Can One's Sex Be Changed? (1951) are reprinted in their entirety. These booklets, which originally sold for 35 U.S. cents, have long been difficult to obtain and have become scarce collectors' items.
As Ekins and King make clear, although Cauldwell was medically qualified, these writings should be situated within the quasi-scientific and quasi-medical genre. Arguably, they are best located in relation to the emergence of a transvestite/transsexual subculture and in relation to public consciousness of the area, rather than in relation to the scientific community. Nevertheless, as Cauldwell's writings make clear, Cauldwell was a significant figure in the area of what we would now term 'transgenderism'.
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