Harry Benjamin's first ten cases (1938-1953): a clinical historical note

Arch Sex Behav. 1995 Feb;24(1):73-93. doi: 10.1007/BF01541990.

Abstract

The value in studying Dr. Harry Benjamin's first gender dysphoria patients is in learning how they described themselves--without any books to read, without any other source of information, assuming that he or she was alone and unlike anyone else in the world--and before hardly any literature on the subject had been published. Just as today, Benjamin's earliest patients came to him self-diagnosed. Even without the terminology currently available, their early descriptions of this unique phenomenon are identical with cross-gender identity patients who present themselves today: a recognition of the condition very early in their lives; the attempts at cross-dressing; the secrecy; the guilt; the unsuccessful attempts at suppressing desires and feelings; the episodic and continuous purging. These early individuals who suffered from gender conflicts had discovered Benjamin who would try to understand their unusual dilemma and be a barometer and a guide for the changes they would make. Their early individualistic perceptions provided insights that led to the birth of a new discipline. These 10 people must be lauded for their courage in seeking a description and a solution for a phenomenon that had no description and no treatment.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatry / history
  • Transsexualism / history*
  • Transsexualism / therapy
  • Transvestism / history*
  • Transvestism / therapy
  • United States

Personal name as subject

  • H Benjamin