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Emma Trosse, married Külz – Teacher, head, author: An exhibition on the pioneer of homosexual-emancipational journalism

22. October 2010 – 22. November 2010

Emma (Külz) Trosse (1863-1949) was a teacher and autodidactical author of medical matters. In the Leipzig publishing house of Max Spohr she published a brochure on love among people of the same gender even before well-known contemporaries like Magnus Hirschfeld did. Schwules Museum pays tribute to this female pioneer of homosexual-emancipational journalism with a biographic exhibition in the ground floor cabinet room.

The first woman who became known by presenting her own essay on female homosexuality is Emma Johanna Elisabeth Trosse (1863-1949). Her book with the title Ein Weib? Psychologisch-biographische Studie über Konträrsexuelle (A woman? Psychological-biographic essay on opposite sexual beings) was first published in the Leipzig publishing house of Max Spohr in 1897.

Chronologically she published articles on this theme prior to Johanna Elberskirchen and Theo Anna Sprüngli (aka Anna Rüling) who both had their coming out in 1904. Spohr brought out already in 1895 a first publication on the social phenomenon of love among equal genders by Trosse with the title The opposite sexualism related to marriage and women – even before the writings of the known Berliner researcher of sexuality Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935).

Emma Trosse understands contrary sexuality as a congenital disposition, therefore as “natural” and has existed for as long as we know. On that basis she stands for a de-pathologisation and against men being criminalized according to § 175 of the penal code. She also denounced very early and rigorously forms of social discrimination of homosexual women and men. Emma Trosse’s considerations on people “without sensuality” are also very innovative. These considerations are probably related to persons without sexual and erotic interests. Emma Trosse considers herself to be such a person. Her writings on contrary sexuality and “free love” are prohibited in several countries.

Emma Trosse, born on 6 January 1863 in Gransee. Both her parents were teachers and she enjoyed a bourgeois privilege of education and she was trained to be a teacher and school principal in Hannover. As a teacher she worked in private households and in schools in different cities. Finally she was the head of an Institute for “higher daughters” in Würzburg from 1890 onwards.

In 1893 she moved to Neuenahr/Eifel, where she opened a boarding school for girls together with a very close female friend – Hermine Dulsmann, born Baroness von Bardeleben.

Because of her volume with lyrics Emma Trosse was known as a regional poet in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. Emma Trosse became known internationally because of her writings on medicine, for example about old Egypt medicine and therapeutics of the middle ages, for instance the Breslau book of remedies (1908). For several years she belonged to the circle of female authors of the international medical journal Janus, an archive of history and geography of medicine, which was published until 1989.

In 1900 Emma Trosse married the physician Konstantin Külz. Together they built the first sanatorium for people suffering from diabetes in Neuenahr. After his death in 1923 she ran the business alone, until she handed it over to her daughter Irmgard Quednow (1902-1961) and to her son in law.
In 1930 Emma Külz(-Trosse) published another small volume on Permanent Cure for Diabetes, this was her last well known publication. She did not apply for membership in the National Socialist Chamber of Writings. In her last days she was “completely blind”. She died on 23 July 1949 at the age of 86 in Bad Neuenahr.

Curator: Jens Dobler