By Havelock Ellis
From CHAPTER III.—SEXUAL INVERSION IN MEN.
The histories which follow have been obtained in various ways, and are of varying degrees of value. Some are of
persons whom I have known very well for very long periods, and concerning whom I can speak very positively. A
few are from complete strangers whose good faith, however, I judge from internal evidence that I am able to accept.
Two or three were written by persons who—though educated, in one case a journalist—had never heard of
inversion, and imagined that their own homosexual feelings were absolutely unique in the world. A fair number
were written by persons whom I do not myself know, but who are well known to others in whose judgment I feel
confidence. Perhaps the largest number are concerned with individuals who wrote to me spontaneously in the first
place, and whom I have at intervals seen or heard from since, in some cases during a very long period, so that I have
slowly been able to fill in their histories, although the narratives, as finally completed, may have the air of being
written down at a single sitting. I have not admitted any narrative which I do not feel that I am entitled to regard as a
substantially accurate statement of the facts, although allowance must occasionally be made for the emotional
coloring of these facts, the invert sometimes cherishing too high an opinion, and sometimes too low an opinion, of
his own personality.
HISTORY I.—Both parents healthy; father of unusually fine physique. He is himself a manual worker and also of
exceptionally fine physique. He is, however, of nervous temperament. He is mentally bright, though not highly
educated, a keen sportsman, and in general a good example of an all-around healthy Englishman.
While very affectionate, his sexual desires are not strongly developed on the physical side, and seem never to have
been so. He sometimes masturbated about the age of puberty, but never afterward. He does not appear to have well-marked
erotic dreams. There used to be some attraction toward women, though it was never strong. At the age of 26
he was seduced by a woman and had connection with her once. Afterward he had reason to think she had played him
false in various ways. This induced the strongest antipathy, not only to this woman, but to all marriageable women.
A year after this episode homosexual feeling first became clear and defined. He is now 33, and feels the same
antipathy to women; he hates even to speak of marriage.
There has only been one really strong attraction, toward a man of about the same age, but of different social class,
and somewhat a contrast to him, both physically and mentally. So far as the physical act is concerned this
relationship is not definitely sexual, but it is of the most intimate possible kind, and the absence of the physical act is
probably largely due to circumstances. At the same time there is no conscious desire for the act for its own sake, and
the existing harmony and satisfaction are described as very complete. There is no repulsion to the physical side, and
he regards the whole relationship as quite natural.
HISTORY II.—B. O., English, aged 35, missionary abroad. A brother is more definitely inverted. B. O. has never
had any definitely homosexual relationships, although he has always been devoted to boys; nor has he had any
relationships with women. "As regards women," he says, "I feel I have not the patience to try and understand them;
they are petulant and changeable," etc. He objects to being called "abnormal," and thinks that people like himself are
"I have never wanted to kiss boys," he writes, "nor to handle them in any way except to put my arm around them at
their studies and at other similar times. Of course, with really little boys, it is different, but boys and girls under 14
seem to me much alike, and I can love either equally well. As to any sort of sexual connection between myself and
one of my own sex, I cannot think of it otherwise than with disgust. I can imagine great pleasure in having
connection with a woman, but their natures do not attract me. Indeed, my liking for my own sex seems to consist
almost entirely in a preference for the masculine character, and the feeling that as an object to look at the male body
is really more beautiful than the female. When any strong temptations to sexual passion come over me in my waking
moments, it is of women I think. On the other hand, I have to confess that after being with some lad I love for an
hour or two, I have sometimes felt my sexual organs roused. But only once in my life have I experienced a strong
desire to sleep in the same bed with a particular lad, and even then no idea of doing anything entered my mind.
Needless to say, I did not sleep with him.
"I never feel tempted by any girls here, although I see so many with their bodies freely exposed, and plenty of them
have really pretty faces. Neither do I feel tempted to do anything improper with any of the boys, although I
frequently sit talking with one who has very little on. But I find the constant sight of well-shaped bare limbs has a
curious effect on the mind and comes before one's imagination as a picture at unlooked-for times. But the most
curious thing of all is this: There are several lads here of whom I am very fond. Now when they are near me I think
of them with only the purest and most tender feelings, but sometimes at night when I am half asleep, or when I am
taking my midday siesta, my imagination pictures one of these lads approaching a girl, or actually lying with her,
and the strange thing is that I do not feel any desire myself to approach the girl, but I feel I wish I were in her place
and the lad was coming to me. In my calm, waking moments it disgusts and rather horrifies me to find myself
apparently so unsexed—yet such is the fact, and the experience, with only slight changes, repeats itself over and
over again. It is not that I, as a man, wish even in imagination to act improperly with a boy, but I feel I would like to
be in the girl's place, and the strange thing is that in all these dreams and imaginings I can always apparently enter
into the feelings of the woman better than into those of the man. Sometimes I fancy for a moment that perhaps
reincarnation is true and I was a woman in my last life. Sometimes I fancy that when I was in the womb I was
formed as a girl and the sexual organs changed just at the last moment. It is a curious problem. Don't think I worry
about it. Only at long intervals do I think of it.... The thing has its bright side. Boys and men seem to have tender
feelings toward me, such as one expects them to have for members of the opposite sex, and I get into all the closer
contact with them in consequence."
HISTORY III.—F. R., English, aged 50, Belongs on both sides to healthy, normal families, of more than average
ability. Father was 35 at birth, and mother 27. He is the second of four children. There was a considerable interval
between the births of the children, which were spread over twenty-one years. All are normal, except F. R., two of
them married and with families.
Owing to the difference of age between the children, F. R. (who was three years younger than his elder brother, and
more than four years older than his sister, the third child) had no male companionship and was constantly alone with
his mother. "Being naturally imitative," he remarks, "I think I acquired her tastes and interests and habits of thought.
However that may be, I feel sure that my interests and amusements were more girlish than boyish. By way of
illustration, I may mention that I have often been told by a friend of my mother's that, on one occasion, I was
wanting a new hat, and none being found of a size to fit me, I congratulated myself that I should therefore be obliged
to have a bonnet! As regards my feminine tastes and instincts, I have always been conscious of taking interest in
questions of family relationships, etiquette, dress (women's as much as, or more than, men's) and other things of that
kind, which, as a rule, were treated with indifference or contempt. In the house I take more notice than my sister
does of the servants' deficiencies and neglects, and am much more orderly in my arrangements than she is."
There is nothing markedly feminine in the general appearance. Pubertal development took place at an early age, long
before fourteen, with nocturnal emissions, but without erotic dreams. The testicles are well developed, the penis
perhaps rather below the average in size, and the prepuce long and narrow. Erection occurs with much facility,
especially at night. When young he knew nothing of masturbation, but he began the habit about ten years ago, and
has practised it occasionally ever since.
Although he likes the society of women to a certain extent, he soon grows tired of it, and has never had any desire to
marry. His sexual dreams never have any relation to women. "I am generally doing or saying something," he
remarks, "to some man whom I know when awake, something which I admit I might wish to do or say if it were not
quite out of the question on grounds of propriety and self-respect."
He has, however, never had any intimate relationships with men, and much that he has heard of such relationships
fills him with horror.
"What I feel about myself is," he writes, "that I have to a certain extent, or in some respects, a feminine mind in a
male body; or, I might put it that I am a combination of an immoral (in tendency, rather than in act) woman and a
religious man. From time to time I have felt strong affection for young men, but I cannot flatter myself that my
affection has been reciprocated. At the present time there is a young fellow (23 years old) who acts as my clerk and
sits in my room. He is extremely good-looking, and of a type which is generally considered 'aristocratic,' but so far
as I (or he) know, he is quite of the lower middle class. He has little to recommend him but a fine face and figure,
and there is nothing approaching to mental or social equality between us. But I constantly feel the strongest desire to
treat him as a man might a young girl he warmly loved. Various obvious considerations keep me from more than
quasi-paternal caresses, and I feel sure he would resent very strongly anything more. This constant repression is
trying beyond measure to the nerves, and I often feel quite ill from that cause. Having had no experiences of my
own, I am always anxious to learn anything I can of the sexual relations of other men, and their organs, but I have no
curiosity whatever concerning the other sex. My chief pleasure and source of gratification is found in the
opportunities afforded by Turkish and other baths; wherever, in fact, there is the nude male to be found. But I
seldom find in these places anyone who seems to have the same tendency as myself, and certainly I have not met
with more than two cases among the attendants, who responded to my hinted desire to see everything. Under a
shampooer, particularly an unfamiliar one, I occasionally experience an orgasm, but less often now than when I was
F. R. is very short-sighted. His favorite color is blue. He is able to whistle. His tastes are chiefly of a literary
character, and he has never had any liking for sports. "I have been generally considered ineffective in the use of my
hands," he writes, "and I am certainly not skillful. All I have ever been able to do in that way is to net and do the
simpler forms of needlework; but it seems more natural to me to do, or try to do, everything of that sort, and to play
on the piano, rather than to shoot or play games. I may add that I am fonder of babies than many women, and am
generally considered to be surprisingly capable of holding them! Certainly I enjoy doing so. As a youth, I used to act
in charades; but I was too shy to do so unless I was dressed as a woman and veiled; and when I took a woman's part
I felt less like acting than I have done in propria persona. A remark made by an uncle once rather annoyed me: that
it seemed more like nature than art. But he was quite right."
HISTORY IV.—Of Lowland Scotch parentage. Both sides of house healthy and without cerebral or nervous
disease. Homosexual desires began at puberty. He practised onanism to a limited extent at school and up to the age
of about 22. His erotic dreams are exclusively about males. While very friendly and intimate with women of all
ages, he is instantly repelled by any display of sexual affection on their side. This has happened in varying degree in
three or four cases. With regard to marriage, he remarks: "As there seems no immediate danger of the race dying
out, I leave marriage to those who like it." His male ideal has varied to some extent. It has for some years tended
toward a healthy, well-developed, athletic or out-of-door working type, intelligent and sympathetic, but not specially
At school his sexual relations were of the simplest type. Since then there have been none. "This," he says, "is not due
either to absence of desire or presence of 'morals.' To put it shortly, 'there were never the time and the place and the
loved one together.' In another view, physical desire and the general affection have not always coexisted toward the
same person; and the former without the latter is comparatively transient; while the latter stops the gratification of
the former, if it is felt that that gratification could in any way make the object of affection unhappy, mentally or
He is healthy and fairly well developed; of sensitive, emotional nature, but self-controlled; mentally he is receptive
and aggressive by turns, sometimes uncritical, sometimes analytical. His temper is equable, and he is strongly
affectionate. Very fond of music and other arts, but not highly imaginative.
Of sexual inversion in the abstract he says he has no views, but he thus sums up his moral attitude: "I presume that,
if it is there, it is there for use or abuse, as men please. I condemn gratification of bodily desire at the expense of
others, in whatever form it may take. I condemn it no more in its inverted form than in the ordinary. I believe that
affection between persons of the same sex, even when it includes the sexual passion and its indulgences, may lead to
results as splendid as human nature can ever attain to. In short, I place it on an absolute equality with love as
HISTORY V.—S. W., aged 64, English, musical journalist. The communication which follows (somewhat
abbreviated) was written before S. W. had heard or read anything about sexual inversion, and when he still believed
that his own case was absolutely unique.
"I am the son of a clergyman, and lived for the first thirteen years of my life in the country town where I was born.
Then my father became the vicar of a country village, where I lived until I went out into the world at the age of 18.
As during the whole of this time my father had a few pupils, I was educated with them, and never went to school. I
was born, I fancy, with sexual passions about as strong as can well be imagined, and at the same time was very
precocious in my entry into the stage of puberty. Semen began to form a little before my twelfth birthday; hair soon
followed, and in a year I was in that respect the equal of an average boy of 15 or 16. I conversed freely with my
companions on the relations of the sexes, but, unlike them, had no personal feeling toward girls. In time I became
conscious that I was different, as I then believed, and believe now, from all other men. My sexual organs were quite
perfect. But in the frame of a man I had the sexual mind of a female. I distinctly disclaim the faintest inclination to
perform unnatural acts; the idea of committing sodomy would be most disgusting.
"To come to my actual condition of mind: While totally indifferent to the person of woman (I always enjoyed their
friendship and companionship, and many of my best friends have been ladies), I had a burning desire to have carnal
intercourse with a male, and had the capacity for falling in love, as it is called, to the utmost extent. In imagination, I
possessed the female organ, and felt toward man exactly as an amorous female would. At the time when I became
fully conscious of my condition, I attached little importance to it; I had not a notion of its terrible import, nor of the
future misery it would entail. All that I had to learn by bitter experience.
"I did once think of forcing myself to have connection with a prostitute in order to see whether the actual sensual
enjoyment might bring a change, and so have the power to marry. But when it came to thinking over ways and
means, my repugnance to the act became so strong that it was quite out of the question. In the case of any male to
whom I became attached, I wanted to feel ourselves together, skin to skin, and to be privileged to take such liberties
as an amorous female would take if that were all permitted. I sought no purely sensual gratification of any kind; my
love was far too genuine for that.
"During the rather more than half a century which has elapsed since my twelfth birthday, I have been genuinely in
love about thirteen times. I despair attempting to give an idea of the depth and reality of my feelings. I have alluded
to my precocity. I was in love when 12 years old, the object being a man of 24, a well-known analytical chemist. He
came to my father's house very frequently; and my heart beat almost at the mention of his name.
"The next serious time I was about 15. It was a farmer's son, about two years older. I don't think that I was ever
alone with him, and really only knew him as a member of his family, yet for a time he was my chief interest in life.
"When 21 I had a 'chum,' a youth of 17, who entertained for me, at any rate, a brotherly affection. We were under
the same roof, and early one summer morning he got out of bed and came direct to my room to talk about some
matter or other. In order to talk more comfortably he got into bed with me and we lay there just as two school-girls
might have done. This proximity was more than I could stand, and my heart began to beat so that it was impossible
that he should not notice it. As, of course, he could not have the slightest notion of the reason, he said in all
innocence, 'Why, how your heart beats. I can hear it quite plainly.'
"So far my details are purely innocent. Up to 18, familiarities passed at intervals between me and the son of the
village doctor, a youth about two years older than myself, and precociously immoral. I did not really care for him
much, but he was my chief companion. Then I became a school-assistant, and for about six years managed to control
myself, only, alas, to fall again. Another resolution I kept for eight years, one long fight with my nature. Again I
sinned in three instances, extending over three or four years. I now come to a very painful and eventful episode in
my unhappy life which I would gladly pass over were it possible. It was a case, in middle life, of sin, discovery, and
great folly in addition.
"Before going into details, so far as may be necessary, I cannot help asking you to consider calmly and
dispassionately my exact condition compared with that of my fellow-creatures as a whole. In my struggles to resist
in the past, I have at times felt as if wrestling in the folds of a python. I again sinned, then, with a youth and his
friend. Oddly enough, discovery followed through a man who was actuated by a feeling of revenge for a strictly
right act on my part. The lads refused to state more than the truth, and this did not satisfy the man, and a third lad
was introduced, who was prepared to say anything. This was not all; some twelve or fifteen more boys made similar
accusations! The general belief, in consequence, was that I had committed 'nameless' crimes in all directions, ad lib.
If you were to ask me for an explanation of the action of all these boys beyond the third, who, of course, had some
special inducements, I can offer none. They may have thought that the original trio were regarded rather in the light
of heroes; why should they not be heroes, too?
"I might well feel crushed under such a load of accusations, but that does not excuse the incredible folly of my
conduct. I denied alike the modicum of truth and the mass of lying, and went off to America. However, as time
passed on and my mind got into a proper state, I felt that the truth must be told some time or other. I accordingly
wrote from America to the proper quarter a full confession of my sin with regard to the two youths who had told
merely the truth, at the same time pointing out the falsehood of all the rest of the accusations.
"I remained in America six years, and actually made money, so that I could return to England with a small capital. I
was also under a promise to my three sisters (all older than myself) that I would return in their lifetime. My
programme was to purchase a small, light business in London, and quietly earn my living; at the same time making
my presence known to no one. I did buy such a business, got swindled in the most clever way, and lost every
farthing I possessed in the world! I had to make my plight known to old friends who all either gave or lent me
money. Still my position was a very precarious one. I tried an insurance agency, one of the last resources of the
educated destitute, but soon found out that I was unfitted for work in which impudence is a prime factor. Then an
extraordinary stroke of good fortune took place; almost simultaneously I began to get a few music pupils, and
literary work in connection with a good musical journal.
"Making my presence known to old friends involved the same information to those who were not friends. My
identity as a journalist became known, and as time passed by it seemed to me as if half the world had heard of my
alleged iniquities. People who have never set eyes on me seem to regard me in the light of a monster of iniquity who
ought not to be suffered to exist. All these outsiders believe that I have committed 'nameless' offenses times
innumerable and lift up their hands in speechless horror at the audacity of a man who, so situated, dares to appear
openly in public, under his own name, and look people in the face. They have not even the brains to see that this
very fearlessness proves the fictitious character of their beliefs. Next, they believe that if only they could get my
dismissal from my journalistic post I should be brought to starvation point. This up to a year ago was true. Then an
old relative died and left me some property which I sold to invest in an annuity, and thus have just enough to live on
quietly, apart from what I may earn. Under such strange conditions it might be asked whether life was not
unendurable. Frankly speaking, I cannot say that I find it so. I have in London a few bachelor friends who go with
me to theaters, etc. In the suburbs I have about half a dozen family friends. Here I meet with pleasant society and a
hearty welcome. I am passionately fond of music, have an excellent piano, and can hear the best concerts in Europe.
I go to all good plays. I am a good chess player. Lastly, I am an omnivorous reader. You will allow that my
resources for passing the time are not limited.
"Of course, I am sorry that I sinned, and wish that I had not done so. But I disclaim any feeling of shame."
S. W. was the youngest of four children and the only boy. His father was 40 at his birth, his mother 33. The father
was an intellectual man of weak character, the mother a woman of violent and eccentric temper, with, he believes,
strong sexual passions. S. W. knows of nothing in the family to account for his own abnormal condition.
He is short (five feet five inches), but well built, with strong chest and a powerful voice. His arms are weak and
flabby (feminine, he thinks), but the legs muscular. As a boy of 14 he could walk forty miles with ease, and he
played football till near the age of 45. He is considered manly in character and tastes, but is easily moved to tears
under strong excitement. There is no information as to the type of man to whom he is attracted. I may observe,
however, that the analytical chemist who first evoked S. W.'s admiration was well known to me some thirty years
later, as he was my own teacher in chemistry. At that time he was an elderly man of attractive appearance and
character, sympathetic and winning in manner to an almost feminine extent.
S. W. has never felt the slightest sexual attraction toward the opposite sex. The first indications of inverted feeling
were at the age of 6 or 7. Watching his father's pupils, boys of 13 or 14, from the windows, he speculated on what
their organs of generation were like. "In connection with a girl," he writes, "I should no more have thought of such a
thing than in the case of a block of marble." About this time, indeed, he at times slept with a sister of 10, who
induced him to go through the form of sexual connection, saying that it felt "so funny;" but he merely did this to
please her, and without the slightest interest or feeling on his own part. This attitude became more marked with
increased knowledge, until he fell ardently in love at the age of 12. Throughout life he has practised masturbation to
a certain extent, and is prepared to defend the practice in his own case. His erotic dreams have been of only the
vaguest and most shadowy character. He is able to whistle. He takes a warm interest in politics and in philanthropic
work. But his chief love is for music and he has published many musical compositions. On the whole, and
notwithstanding the persecution he has endured, he does not regard his life as unhappy. At the same time he is
keenly conscious of the atmosphere of "Pariahdom" which surrounds inverts, and in his own case this has never
been alleviated by any sense of companionship in misery. The facility with which some inverts are said to recognize
others of their own kind is quite incomprehensible to him; he has never to his knowledge met one.
CHAPTER IV.—SEXUAL INVERSION IN WOMEN.
Homosexuality is not less common in women than in men. In the seriocomic theory of sex set forth by Aristophanes
in Plato's Symposium, males and females are placed on a footing of complete equality, and, however fantastic, the
theory suffices to indicate that to the Greek mind, so familiar with homosexuality, its manifestations seemed just as
likely to occur in women as in men. That is undoubtedly the case. Like other anomalies, indeed, in its more
pronounced forms it may be less frequently met with in women; in its less pronounced forms, almost certainly, it is
more frequently found. A Catholic confessor, a friend tells me, informed him that for one man who acknowledges
homosexual practices there are three women. For the most part feminine homosexuality runs everywhere a parallel
course to masculine homosexuality and is found under the same conditions. It is as common in girls as in boys; it
has been found, under certain conditions, to abound among women in colleges and convents and prisons, as well as
under the ordinary conditions of society. Perhaps the earliest case of homosexuality recorded in detail occurred in a
woman, and it was with the investigation of such a case in a woman that Westphal may be said to have
inaugurated the scientific study of inversion.
Moreover, inversion is as likely to be accompanied by high intellectual ability in a woman as in a man. The
importance of a clear conception of inversion is indeed in some respects, under present social conditions, really even
greater in the case of women than of men. For if, as has sometimes been said of our civilization, "this is a man's
world," the large proportion of able women inverts, whose masculine qualities render it comparatively easy for them
to adopt masculine avocations, becomes a highly significant fact.
[. . .]
Yet, until recently, comparatively little has been known of sexual inversion in women. Even so lately as 1901 (after
the publication of the first edition of the present Study), Krafft-Ebing wrote that scarcely fifty cases had been
recorded. The chief monographs devoted but little space to women.
Krafft-Ebing himself, in the earlier editions of Psychopathia Sexualis, gave little special attention to inversion in
women, although he published a few cases. Moll, however, included a valuable chapter on the subject in his
Konträre Sexualempfindung, narrating numerous cases, and inversion in women also received special attention in
the present Study. Hirschfeld, however, in his Homosexualität (1914) is the first authority who has been able to deal
with feminine homosexuality as completely co-ordinate with masculine homosexuality. The two manifestations,
masculine and feminine, are placed on the same basis and treated together throughout the work.
It is, no doubt, not difficult to account for this retardation in the investigation of sexual inversion in women.
Notwithstanding the severity with which homosexuality in women has been visited in a few cases, for the most part
men seem to have been indifferent toward it; when it has been made a crime or a cause for divorce in men, it has
usually been considered as no offense at all in women. Another reason is that it is less easy to detect in women;
we are accustomed to a much greater familiarity and intimacy between women than between men, and we are less
apt to suspect the existence of any abnormal passion. And, allied with this cause, we have also to bear in mind the
extreme ignorance and the extreme reticence of women regarding any abnormal or even normal manifestation of
their sexual life. A woman may feel a high degree of sexual attraction for another woman without realizing that her
affection is sexual, and when she does realize this, she is nearly always very unwilling to reveal the nature of her
intimate experience, even with the adoption of precautions, and although the fact may be present to her that, by
helping to reveal the nature of her abnormality, she may be helping to lighten the burden of it on other women.
Among the numerous confessions voluntarily sent to Krafft-Ebing there is not one by a woman. There is, again, the
further reason that well-marked and fully developed cases of inversion are probably rarer in women, though a
slighter degree may be more common; in harmony with the greater affectability of the feminine organism to slight
stimuli, and its lesser liability to serious variation.
The same aberrations that are found among men are, however, everywhere found among women. Feminine
inversion has sometimes been regarded as a vice of modern refined civilization. Yet it was familiar to the Anglo-
Saxons, and Theodore's Penitential in the seventh century assigned a penance of three years (considerably less than
that assigned to men, or for bestiality) to "a woman fornicating with a woman." Among the women of savages in all
parts of the world homosexuality is found, though it is less frequently recorded than among men.
[. . .]
The actively inverted woman usually differs from the woman of the class just mentioned in one fairly essential
character: a more or less distinct trace of masculinity. She may not be, and frequently is not, what would be called a
"mannish" woman, for the latter may imitate men on grounds of taste and habit unconnected with sexual perversion,
while in the inverted woman the masculine traits are part of an organic instinct which she by no means always
wishes to accentuate. The inverted woman's masculine element may, in the least degree, consist only in the fact that
she makes advances to the woman to whom she is attracted and treats all men in a cool, direct manner, which may
not exclude comradeship, but which excludes every sexual relationship, whether of passion or merely of coquetry.
Usually the inverted woman feels absolute indifference toward men, and not seldom repulsion. And this feeling, as a
rule, is instinctively reciprocated by men. At the same time bisexual women are at least as common as bisexual men.
HISTORY XXXIV.—Miss S., aged 38, living in a city of the United States, a business woman of fine intelligence,
prominent in professional and literary circles. Her general health is good, but she belongs to a family in which there
is a marked neuropathic element. She is of rather phlegmatic temperament, well poised, always perfectly calm and
self-possessed, rather retiring in disposition, with gentle, dignified bearing.
She says she cannot care for men, but that all her life has been "glorified and made beautiful by friendship with
women," whom she loves as a man loves women. Her character is, however, well disciplined, and her friends are not
aware of the nature of her affections. She tries not to give all her love to one person, and endeavors (as she herself
expresses it) to use this "gift of loving" as a stepping-stone to high mental and spiritual attainments. She is described
by one who has known her for several years as "having a high nature, and instincts unerringly toward high things."
HISTORY XXXV.—Miss B., artist, of German ancestry on the paternal side. Among her brothers and sisters, one
is of neurotic temperament and another is inverted. She is herself healthy. She has no repugnance to men, and would
even like to try marriage, if the union were not permanent, but she has seldom felt any sexual attraction to a man. In
one exceptional instance, early in life, realizing that she was not adapted for heterosexual relationships, she broke
off the engagement she had formed. Much later in life, she formed a more permanent relationship with a man of
She is attracted to women of various kinds, though she recognizes that there are some women to whom only men are
attracted. Many years since she had a friend to whom she was very strongly attached, but the physical manifestations
do not appear to have become pronounced. After that her thoughts were much occupied by several women to whom
she made advances, which were not encouraged to pass beyond ordinary friendship. In one case, however, she
formed an intimate relationship with a girl somewhat younger than herself, and a very feminine personality, who
accepted Miss B.'s ardent love with pleasure, but in a passive manner, and did not consider that the relationship
would stand in the way of her marrying, though she would on no account tell her husband. The relationship for the
first time aroused Miss B.'s latent sexual emotions. She found sexual satisfaction in kissing and embracing her
friend's body, but there appeared to be no orgasm. The relationship made a considerable change in her, and rendered
her radiant and happy.
In her behavior toward men Miss B. reveals no sexual shyness. Men are not usually attracted to her. There is nothing
striking in her appearance; her person and manners, though careless, are not conspicuously man-like. She is fond of
exercise and smokes a good deal.
HISTORY XXXVI.—Miss H., aged 30. Among her paternal relatives there is a tendency to eccentricity and to
nervous disease. Her grandfather drank; her father was eccentric and hypochondriacal, and suffered from obsessions.
Her mother and mother's relatives are entirely healthy, and normal in disposition.
At the age of 4 she liked to see the nates of a little girl who lived near. When she was about 6, the nurse-maid, sitting
in the fields, used to play with her own parts, and told her to do likewise, saying it would make a baby come; she
occasionally touched herself in consequence, but without producing any effect of any kind. When she was about 8
she used to see various nurse-maids uncover their children's sexual parts and show them to each other. She used to
think about this when alone, and also about whipping. She never cared to play with dolls, and in her games always
took the part of a man. Her first rudimentary sex-feelings appeared at the age of 8 or 9, and were associated with
dreams of whipping and being whipped, which were most vivid between the ages of 11 and 14, when they died
away on the appearance of affection for girls. She menstruated at 12.
Her earliest affection, at the age of 13, was for a schoolfellow, a graceful, coquettish girl with long golden hair and
blue eyes. Her affection displayed itself in performing all sorts of small services for this girl, in constantly thinking
about her, and in feeling deliciously grateful for the smallest return. At the age of 14 she had a similar passion for a
girl cousin; she used to look forward with ecstasy to her visits, and especially to the rare occasions when the cousin
slept with her; her excitement was then so great that she could not sleep, but there was no conscious sexual
excitement. At the age of 15 or 16 she fell in love with another cousin; her experiences with this girl were full of
delicious sensations; if the cousin only touched her neck, a thrill went through her body which she now regards as
sexual. Again, at 17, she had an overwhelming, passionate fascination for a schoolfellow, a pretty, commonplace
girl, whom she idealized and etherealized to an extravagant extent. This passion was so violent that her health was,
to some extent, impaired; but it was purely unselfish, and there was nothing sexual in it. On leaving school at the age
of 19 she met a girl of about the same age as herself, very womanly, but not much attracted to men. This girl became
very much attached to her, and sought to gain her love. After some time Miss H. was attracted by this love, partly
from the sense of power it gave her, and an intimate relation grew up. This relation became vaguely physical, Miss
H. taking the initiative, but her friend desiring such relations and taking extreme pleasure in them; they used to touch
and kiss each other tenderly (especially on the mons veneris), with equal ardor. They each experienced a strong
pleasurable feeling in doing this, and sexual erethism, but no orgasm, and it does not appear that this ever occurred.
Their general behavior to each other was that of lovers, but they endeavored, as far as possible, to hide this fact from
the world. This relation lasted for several years, and would have continued, had not Miss H.'s friend, from religious
and moral scruples, put an end to the physical relationship. Miss H. had been very well and happy during this
relationship; the interference with it seems to have exerted a disturbing influence, and also to have aroused her
sexual desires, though she was still scarcely conscious of their real nature.
Soon afterward another girl of exceedingly voluptuous type made love to Miss H., to which the latter yielded, giving
way to her feelings as well as to her love of domination. She was afterward ashamed of this episode, though the
physical element in it had remained vague and indefinite. Her remorse was so great that when her friend, repenting
her scruples, implored her to let their relationship be on the same footing as of old, Miss H., in her return, resisted
every effort to restore the physical relation. She kept to this resolution for some years, and sought to divert her
thoughts into intellectual channels. When she again formed an intimate relationship it was with a congenial friend,
and lasted for several years.
She has never masturbated. Occasionally, but very rarely, she has had dreams of riding accompanied by pleasurable
sexual emotions (she cannot recall any actual experience to suggest this, though fond of riding). She has never had
any kind of sexual dreams about a man; of late years she has occasionally had erotic dreams about women.
Her feeling toward men is friendly, but she has never had sexual attraction toward a man. She likes them as good
comrades, as men like each other. She enjoys the society of men on account of their intellectual attraction. She is
herself very active in social and intellectual work. Her feeling toward marriage has always been one of repugnance.
She can, however, imagine a man whom she could love or marry.
She is attracted to womanly women, sincere, reserved, pure, but courageous in character. She is not attracted to
intellectual women, but at the same time cannot endure silly women. The physical qualities that attract her most are
not so much beauty of face as a graceful, but not too slender, body with beautiful curves. The women she is drawn to
are usually somewhat younger than herself. Women are much attracted to her, and without any effort on her part.
She likes to take the active part and protecting rôle with them. She is herself energetic in character, and with a
somewhat neurotic temperament.
She finds sexual satisfaction in tenderly touching, caressing, and kissing the loved one's body. (There is no
cunnilinctus, which she regards with abhorrence.) She feels more tenderness than passion. There is a high degree of
sexual erethism when kissing, but orgasm is rare and is produced by lying on the friend or by the friend lying on her,
without any special contact. She likes being herself kissed, but not so much as taking the active part.
She believes that homosexual love is morally right when it is really part of a person's nature, and provided that the
nature of homosexual love is always made plain to the object of such affection. She does not approve of it as a mere
makeshift, or expression of sensuality, in normal women. She has sometimes resisted the sexual expression of her
feelings, once for years at a time, but always in vain. The effect on her of loving women is distinctly good, she
asserts, both spiritually and physically, while repression leads to morbidity and hysteria. She has suffered much from
neurasthenia at various periods, but under appropriate treatment it has slowly diminished. The inverted instinct is too
deeply rooted to eradicate, but it is well under control.
HISTORY XXXVII.—Miss M., the daughter of English parents (both musicians), who were both of what is
described as "intense" temperament, and there is a neurotic element in the family, though no history of insanity or
alcoholism, and she is herself free from nervous disease. At birth she was very small. In a portrait taken at the age of
4 the nose, mouth, and ears are abnormally large, and she wears a little boy's hat. As a child she did not care for
dolls or for pretty clothes, and often wondered why other children found so much pleasure in them. "As far back as
my memory goes," she writes, "I cannot recall a time when I was not different from other children. I felt bored when
other little girls came to play with me, though I was never rough or boisterous in my sports." Sewing was distasteful
to her. Still she cared little more for the pastimes of boys, and found her favorite amusement in reading, especially
adventures and fairy-tales. She was always quiet, timid, and self-conscious. The instinct first made its appearance in
the latter part of her eighth or the first part of her ninth year. She was strongly attracted by the face of a teacher who
used to appear at a side-window on the second floor of the school-building and ring a bell to summon the children to
their classes. The teacher's face seemed very beautiful, but sad, and she thought about her continually, though not
coming in personal contact with, her. A year later this teacher was married and left the school, and the impression
gradually faded away. "There was no consciousness of sex at this time," she wrote; "no knowledge of sexual matters
or practices, and the feelings evoked were feelings of pity and compassion and tenderness for a person who seemed
to be very sad and very much depressed. It is this quality or combination of qualities which has always made the
appeal in my own case. I may go on for years in comparative peace, when something may happen, in spite of my
busy practical life, to call it all out." The next feelings were experienced when, she was about 11 years of age. A
young lady came to visit a next-door neighbor, and made so profound an impression on the child that she was
ridiculed by her playmates for preferring to sit in a dark corner on the lawn—where she might watch this young
lady—rather than to play games. Being a sensitive child, after this experience she was careful not to reveal her
feelings to anyone. She felt instinctively that in this she was different from others. Her sense of beauty developed
early, but there was always an indefinable feeling of melancholy associated with it. The twilight, a dark night when
the stars shone brightly; these had a very depressing effect upon her, but possessed a strong attraction nevertheless,
and pictures appealed to her. At the age of 12 she fell in love with a schoolmate, two years older than herself, who
was absorbed in the boys and never suspected this affection; she wept bitterly because they could not be confirmed
at the same time, but feared to appear undignified and sentimental by revealing her feelings. The face of this friend
reminded her of one of Dolce's Madonnas which she loved. Later on, at the age of 16, she loved another friend very
dearly and devoted herself to her care. There was a tinge of masculinity among the women of this friend's family,
but it is not clear if she can be termed inverted. This was the happiest period of Miss M.'s life. Upon the death of this
friend, who had long been in ill health, eight years afterward, she resolved never to let her heart go out to anyone
Specific physical gratification plays no part in these relationships. The physical sexual feelings began to assert
themselves at puberty, but not in association with her ideal emotions. "In that connection," she writes, "I would have
considered such things a sacrilege. I fought them and in a measure successfully. The practice of self-indulgence
which might have become a daily habit was only occasional. Her image evoked at such times drove away such
feelings, for which I felt a repugnance, much preferring the romantic ideal feelings. In this way, quite unconscious
of the fact that I was at all different from, any other person, I contrived to train myself to suppress or at least to
dominate my physical sensations when they arose. That is the reason why friendship and love have always seemed
such holy and beautiful things to me. I have never connected the two sets of feelings. I think I am as strongly sexed
as anyone, but I am able to hold a friend in my arms and experience deep comfort and peace without having even a
hint of physical sexual feeling. Sexual expression may be quite necessary at certain times and right under certain
conditions, but I am convinced that free expression of affection along sentimental channels will do much to
minimize the necessity for it along specifically sexual channels. I have gone three months without the physical
outlet. The only time I was ever on the verge of nervous prostration was after having suppressed the instinct for ten
months. The other feelings, which I do not consider as sexual feelings at all, so fill my life in every department—
love, literature, poetry, music, professional and philanthropic activities—that I am able to let the physical take care
of itself. When the physical sensations come, it is usually when I am not thinking of a loved one at all. I could
dissipate them by raising my thought to that spiritual friendship. I do not know if this was right and wise. I know it
is what occurred. It seems a good thing to practise some sort of inhibition of the centers and acquire this kind of
domination. One bad result, however, was that I suffered much at times from the physical sensations, and felt
horribly depressed and wretched whenever they seemed to get the better of me."
"I have been able," she writes, "successfully to master the desire for a more perfect and complete expression of my
feelings, and I have done so without serious detriment to my health." "I love few people," she writes again, "but in
these instances when I have permitted my heart to go out to a friend I have always experienced most exalted
feelings, and have been made better by them morally, mentally, and spiritually. Love is with me a religion."
With regard to her attitude toward the other sex, she writes: "I have never felt a dislike for men, but have good
comrades among them. During my childhood I associated with both girls and boys, enjoying them all, but
wondering why the girls cared to flirt with boys. Later in life I have had other friendships with men, some of whom
cared for me, much to my regret, for, naturally, I do not care to marry."
She is a musician, and herself attributes her nature in part to artistic temperament. She is of good intelligence, and
shows remarkable talent for various branches of physical science. She is about 5 feet 4 inches in height, and her
features are rather large. The pelvic measurements are normal, and the external sexual organs are fairly normal in
most respects, though somewhat small. At a period ten years subsequent to the date of this history, further
examination, under anesthetics, by a gynecologist, showed no traces of ovary on one side. The general conformation
of the body is feminine. But with arms, palms up, extended in front of her with inner sides of hands touching, she
cannot bring the inner sides of forearms together, as nearly every woman can, showing that the feminine angle of
arm is lost.
She is left-handed and shows a better development throughout on the left side. She is quiet and dignified, but has
many boyish tricks of manner and speech which seem to be instinctive; she tries to watch herself continually,
however, in order to avoid them, affecting feminine ways and feminine interests, but always being conscious of an
effort in so doing.
Miss M. can see nothing wrong in her feelings; and, until, at the age of 28, she came across the translation of Krafft-
Ebing's book, she had no idea "that feelings like mine were 'under the ban of society' as he puts it, or were
considered unnatural and depraved." She would like to help to bring light on the subject and to lift the shadow from
other lives. "I emphatically protest," she says, "against the uselessness and the inhumanity of attempts to 'cure'
inverts. I am quite sure they have perfect right to live in freedom and happiness as long as they live unselfish lives.
One must bear in mind that it is the soul that needs to be satisfied, and not merely the senses."