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27 December 2016

Bernard S. Talmey (1862 - 1926) gynecologist, sexologist–part 1.

Bernard Talmud (later Talmey) was raised in Poland and Germany and graduated in medicine at the University of Munich in 1892, as did his brother Max Talmey (1868 – 1941) two years later. Max acted as doctor to the Einstein family, and Max mentored the young Albert Einstein, lending him various science books. Bernard and Max emigrated to the United States in 1894. Bernard became a gynecologist at the Yorkville Hospital, New York City. Max became a ophthalmologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City,

In 1906 Bernard Talmey published Woman; A Treatise on the Normal and Pathological Emotions of Feminine Love, wherein he investigated whether the degree or the intensity of the amatory emotions is different in men and women, by investigating its pathologies: “If it can be shown that the same pathological entities of the sex-instinct are found in men and women, the inference is justified that the normal emotions are also the same or similar in both sexes”.

In 1910, he published Genesis; A Manual for the Instruction of Children in Matters Sexual, for the Use of Parents, Teachers, Physicians and Ministers, where he discussed the evolution of sex in plant and animal.

In 1912 Neurasthenia Sexualis; a Treatise on Sexual Impotence in Men and in Women; For Physicians and Students of Medicine, he discussed the anatomy and physiology of the male organs of generation. The chapter on pathology dealt only with impotence.

By 1913 Talmey had collected five transvestites whom he regarded as patients, and presented a paper, first to the New York Society of Medical Jurisprudence in December 1913, and then published the next year in the New York Medical Journal.

  1. The first patient was S, whom we now know to be Otto Spengler
  2. The second was then 62. He had been frequently dressed as a girl by his mother, until at age 15 this was forbidden by his father. He left and went west where he worked in construction, became a sheriff and a justice of the peace, and still retained a passion for female attire. He is featured in the opening pages of chapter 2 of Peter Boag’s Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past
  3. The third, known as Blanche/Harold had, through tantrums, managed to stay in female attire until age 18. Blanche was then 32, and always wore female underwear, and at home always dressed female. 
  4. The fourth was a retired female impersonator, “Prof M.”, then 62, who had also been dressed by his mother in girls’ clothes. He lived in Dayton, Ohio, and in April 1905 was arrested for cross-dressing, and at other times had been threatened with mob violence. “A number of years previously he was strong sexually and fond of the opposite sex. Nowadays he cares more for his own sex.“ 
  5. The fifth was an artist who hoped to abandon dressing in female clothing after his then forthcoming marriage.


Talmey’s major work is Love, a Treatise on the Science of Sex-Attraction: For the Use of Physicians and Students of Medical Jurisprudence published in 1915.  We will examine this in detail in Part II.

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Talmey commented on Prof M.:  “This case throws a certain light upon the psyche of the woman impersonators.  They do not become effeminate through the long habit of masquerading — that would be confounding cause and effect—but their innate anomaly leads them to choose impersonating as a profession. A normal man would hardly select such a profession as his life work”. 

Boag refers to Patient 2 as ‘M’.   This is confusing as Talmey refers to Patient 4 as “M”.  

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