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'Cis' Coined by “Pedosexual” Apologist
Volkmar Sigusch blamed feminists and "taboo" for child sex abuse
Use of the term “cisgender” has been steadily rising in popularity over the past decade, largely due to the push of trans activists who define the word as the opposite of “transgender.” However, few users of the term are aware of it originated with a German sexologist who also believes pedophilia is a sexuality.
A 1991 publication by Volkmar Sigusch, “Die Transsexuellen und unser nosomorpher Blick” (“Transsexuals and our Nosomorphic View”), is credited as the first published instance of the term “cis” as an antonym to transgender.
Sigusch is a German sexologist, physician, and sociologist who served as the director of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Science) at the clinic of Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, from 1973 - 2006.
“Cisgender” is now widely used to refer to people who are said to have a “gender identity” that matches their sex. However, the more accurate translation from Sigusch’s German coinage “zissexuell” is “cissexual”, though now “sex” — referring to either sex organs or sexuality — has been replaced by the vague and subjective term “gender”.
“Speaking of cissexuals. If there are transsexuals, logically there must be cissexuals. One is not to be thought without the other at all. I have allowed myself to introduce the terms cissexualism, cissexuals, cisgender etc.,” Sigusch wrote.
“The genuinely neological characteristic of transsexualism is that it casts what I have referred to as cissexualism, actually its logical counterpart, in a highly ambiguous light. For if there is a trans‚ a beyond (physical gender)‚ there must be a cis‚ a this-side -of‚ as well,” Sigusch wrote in 1998, referring to his 1991 article.
The sexologist’s views also include controversial opinions on pedophilia. Sigusch distinguishes between pedophiles, who abuse children, and “pedosexuals”, who have the same impulses but do not follow through with them.
In a 2011 interview with Spiegel, Sigusch stated that the problem with “pedosexuals” is not their desire to abuse children, but acting on that impulse. He proposed that the best outcome for treating pedophiles is not the loss of their desire, but instead preventing them from having “contact” with children.
Sigusch’s claims resemble modern rhetoric around “virtuous pedophiles”, or “MAPs” (minor-attracted persons), which prioritize the feelings and needs of men who are attracted to children, rather than focusing on child safeguarding.
Looking at the history of pro-pedophilia policies and attitudes in Germany during the 60’s - 80’s, it’s clear that Sigusch is far from an isolated advocate, and that he was simply attempting to popularize ideas that already existed.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, German sexologists began to view sexual relations with children as progressive rather than abusive. So pervasive was the cultural trend towards the social liberation of pedophilia that even Germany’s Green Party advocated for the abolition of Paragraph 176 of the German Criminal Code, which criminalized sexual activity with children below the age of 14.
One key figure behind an open cultural acceptance of pedophilia in Germany was Volkmar Sigusch’s contemporary, the Berlin-based sexologist Helmut Kentler. Kentler placed foster children in the homes of pedophiles beginning in 1969 for the purpose of facilitating child sexual abuse, a project later known as the “Kentler Experiment” or the “Kentler Project”.
This experiment was authorized and subsidized by the Berlin Senate. In 1988, nearly two decades later, Kentler described the project as a “complete success” in a report he submitted to the Senate.
Dr. Joachim Häberlen of the University of Warwick, in his article, “Feeling Like a Child: Dreams and Practices of Sexuality in the West German Alternative Left during the Long 1970s”, says:
“In 1970 members of the German parliament charged with reforming criminal law even listened to radical education scholar Helmut Kentler, sexologist Volkmar Sigusch, and other sociologists and psychologists, who declared that children would not suffer from sexual relations with adults and that those relations should not be punished, because they are a ‘crime without a victim.’”
In 1972, Dutch pro-pedophile activist Dr. Frits Bernard published a paper titled, “Pedophilia - a Disease?” which concluded that “Pedophilic contacts do not damage the psychic development of a child.” According to Dr. Sonja Levsen, in her essay, “Pedophile Apologism in the 1970’s”, Volkmar Sigusch was one of the “advisory scientists” on Bernard’s research.
Sigusch has a dubious history of research in the area of child sexuality. In 1973, he published research on the sexuality of teens that involved highly specific interview questions about the masturbation habits and orgasms of teenagers. The participants were 16 - 17 years old, but Sigusch and his colleague Gunter Schmidt asked them for intimate details about their sexuality in childhood.
The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, was given the deceptively innocent title “Teenage Boys and Girls in West Germany”. The ethics of the study are questionable given that Sigusch and co-author Schmidt appear to have misled the teen participants about the nature of their research, stating in the introduction:
“Although the potential subjects in many cases were approached in group situations and asked if they would participate in an interview dealing with ‘leisure time, marriage and family’, no subject who agreed to participate in the interview broke it off when the topic of sexuality was broached.”
The information presented in the article makes scant reference to “leisure time, marriage and family” and instead focuses in depth on intimate matters such as age of first masturbation and frequency and whether or not the children would have preferred “coitus”, or intercourse.
Sigusch and his colleague Schmidt also asked the children about their drug use, whether hashish enhanced their sexual arousal, and whether they would prefer to live in a commune, saying:
“It is interesting to study whether today's youth are developing alternatives to marriage. For this reason, we asked all of the boys and girls if they would like to live in a commune at some later date.”
Notably, this research was published just a few years after Kentler began rehoming children with pedophiles, and just one year after Sigusch allegedly served as an advisory scientist for the publication of research by pro-pedophilia campaigner Frits Bernard.
In their conclusion, Sigusch and Schmidt cited the following as problems for further research:
“There are relatively few adults who completely accept adolescent sexuality without reservation. As a result of generally anti-sexual socialization many adolescents have a significantly inhibited capability to experience and enjoy sexuality. The real frequency of sexual activity does not correspond with the sexual desire, which is, as is well known, very intensive just at this age.”
According to Dagmar Herzog, author of Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany, Sigusch and his colleague Schmidt also argued that exposing children to pornography – a well-known grooming tactic of pedophiles – was harmless.
“Volkmar Sigusch and Gunter Schmidt argued provocatively that the representation of sex, per se, did no damage to youth or children, and that the kind of pornography in which sex was ‘represented without prejudices as a pleasure-filled social activity … is exactly the kind that one could without worries give to children and adolescents,’” Herzog wrote.
After promoting the concept of “pedosexuality” in the 70’s, Sigusch would go on to focus in greater detail on “gender identity”. One of Sigusch’s more influential essays that addressed the topic is titled “The Neosexual Revolution,” and was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 1998.
Sigusch explores “the dissociation of the sexual sphere‚ the dispersion of sexual fragments‚ and the diversification of intimate relationships,” and states that these “go hand in hand with the commercialization and banalization of sexuality.”
In his essay, Sigusch draws a parallel between gender identity, fetishism, and sadomasochism:
“New types of self-staging such as sadomasochistic‚ fetishistic‚ and transgender practices which were once considered pathological or existed only in germinal form are now displayed without any reservation whatsoever in public.”
There has been, and continues to be, an overt trend in the field of sexology to normalize behaviors that have long been associated with predation, deviance, and abuse, aided by an affectation of objectivity. For example, in 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) removed Fetishism, Transvestic Fetishism and Sadomasochism as psychiatric diagnoses in response to lobbying by Norwegian gender identity group FRI, in direct contradiction with multiple studies that have consistently correlated transvestic fetishism and sadism with sexual violence, including homicide.
Sigusch shifts from discussing the normalization of such paraphilias to re-introduce his oft-repeated concept of “pedosexuality” and predicts a future when it will be destigmatized, saying,
“All of the old forms of perversion have been made accessible and partially undemonized not only on the Internet but in the generally available mass media — with the exception of pedosexuality, which is still subject to strong taboos.
Yet pedosexuality itself is now undergoing pluralization in accordance with the logic of the commodity economy. If embryos and virgins can be offered in the market, if everything is saleable, then why not children as well?”
The result of this shift towards destigmatizing abusive sexual behavior is a facilitation of male sexual entitlement, an aspect of the various paraphilias explored in the field of sexology that remains a glaring omission from Sigusch’s “The Neosexual Revolution”.
Rather than highlighting the power dynamics of male sexual entitlement, Sigusch instead concludes by pointing the finger at nameless groups of “feminists”, who he claims “seek to ‘feminize’ society”, or alternatively, that “feminists wish to substitute male superiority with female superiority,” and states that “the relationship between man and woman cannot be circumvented.”
In 2010, an article by prominent German feminist and journalist Alice Schwarzer published in the feminist magazine EMMA explains that women writing for the publication were the most vocal opponents of Germany’s attempts to legalize the abuse of children:
“From today's perspective, it seems hard to believe that EMMA was the only voice back then who opposed it. With force. We managed to prevent the deletion [of Paragraph 176 of the German Criminal Code] - otherwise sexuality with children in Germany would not even be punishable these days.”
According to Schwarzer, feminists who successfully opposed the legalization of pedophilia were horrendously slandered as a result, saying they were smeared as manipulating tales of abuse “to get jobs at counseling centers”, or to enact personal revenge against male partners.
Schwarzer eviscerated Volkmar Sigusch’s refusal to critically examine the role of German sexologists in enabling child sexual abuse during the late 60’s - 80’s and marvelled at how, in 2010, Sigusch published “sexology theses on the abuse debate” wherein he lauded the “paradise of childhood,” and claimed that “adding taboos to childish eroticism creates what we all want to prevent: sexual violence.”
In the publication Schwarzer is referring to, Sigusch declares, “There is no such thing as the abuser.” He describes various situations involving child sexual abuse, and says it is possible for someone to rape a child under the influence of alcohol “without being a pedophile.”
“There is the mentally ill adult who, for example disinhibited by a mental illness, sexually attacks children,” says Sigusch. “Another type of offender is the neosexual sex tourist who buys girls or boys in desperately poor countries for sexual services because everything in this world can be bought. Finally there is the pedophile, or to put it more accurately: the pedosexual who only desires children who have not yet entered the puberty phase.”
According to Sigusch:
“There is nothing wrong with pedophilia in the sense of the word, that is, against liking, even loving, children. The sensuality that spontaneously unfolds between a child and an adult is something wonderful. Nothing can remind us more intensely of the paradises of childhood. Nothing is purer and more harmless than this eroticism of the body and the heart. Childish eroticism is not only full of delights, it is also necessary.”
“Pedophiles who ‘look at pictures on the Internet but do not sexually desire a prepubescent child’ are actually harmless to the sex researcher,” wrote Schwarzer. “And, according to Sigusch: ‘Very few (pedophiles) use violence in the usual sense.’” Schwarzer notes that images and videos depicting child sexual abuse involve real acts and create demand for more exploitation, and therefore such viewership can never be harmless.
In another section of Sigusch’s 2010 theses, he blames feminists who oppose pedophilia for child sexual abuse by inciting division and “bitterness”:
“Triggered by feminism, the aggressive and divisive side of sexuality was emphasized more strongly in our culture than the tender and unifying side in the course of the 1980s. Feelings of excitement and pleasure threatened to drown in a discursive storm of hatred and bitterness.
The persistent criminalization of pedophilia and the persistent tabooing of child sexuality… is still a dark continent for us. Adding taboos to childish eroticism creates what we all want to prevent: sexual violence.”
So it seems that for Sigusch, the sexually predatory desires and behaviors, overwhelmingly of men, are not necessarily problematic; instead, he has consistently leveled strong criticisms at the feminists who challenge them.