David Oliver Cauldwell

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David Oliver Cauldwell
BornJune 17, 1897
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedAugust 30, 1959
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
EducationChester College of Medicine and Surgery, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Occupation(s)Sexologist, Neuro-psychiatrist, Writer
Known forCoined the term "transsexual"

David Oliver Cauldwell (June 17, 1897 – August 30, 1959) was a prolific and pioneering sexologist, who coined the term transsexual as used in its current definition.[1][2][3][4][5] Many of his monographs on sex, psychology, or health were published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius in such forms as Big Blue Books. He was the editor of Sexology magazine's question and answer department.[1] Cauldwell and Harry Benjamin were "two early and important American voices on transsexuality".[6]


Cauldwell was born on June 17, 1897, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Gilbert Cauldwell, a surgeon; and Virginia Oliver-Wright.[1][7] Cauldwell reports himself as having had an interest in sexual anatomy since his childhood. He studied medicine at the Chester College of Medicine and Surgery (later merged with Loyola University Chicago) and at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.[1] After several years as a private general practitioner, Cauldwell became an Associate Medical Officer of the Department of War, and as a contract surgeon for the Army, and became a neuro-psychiatrist for the Department of War. In 1945, Cauldwell ended active practice to become a writer on topics of health, notably sexology.[1]

In 1949, he used the term transsexual in his essay Psychopathia Transexualis to describe individuals whose sex assigned at birth was different from their gender identity.[1][2][8] Cauldwell distinguished “biological sex” from “psychological sex”, and saw the latter as determined by social conditioning. He denied that there were modes of thinking intrinsically linked to male or female biology. Primarily because of this view of gender as plastic, and secondarily because of the limitations of medical science, he regarded sex reassignment surgery as an unacceptable response to transsexualism, and instead advocated that it be treated as a mental disorder. Despite his belief that transsexuality originated from an "unfavorable childhood environment",[9] he advocated acceptance of homosexuality and transvestism.[1]

He died on August 30, 1959, in El Paso, Texas, of cirrhosis of the liver. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. pp. 42–45. Born in Cleveland in 1897, David Oliver Cauldwell earned his medical degree at the National University of Mexico and began his career as a general practitioner. During World War II he served as a contract surgeon in the army, a physician for war industries, and a War Department psychiatrist who examined recruits for the armed forces. His wartime work with recruits brought him into contact with, and educated him on, a range of sexual problems. ...
  2. ^ a b The German term "transsexualismus" was introduced by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1923, Cauldwell appears to be the first to use the term for those who desired a change of physiological sex. Compare Die intersexuelle Konstitution in Jahrbuch fuer sexuelle Zwischenstufen by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1923 versus Psychopathia Transexualis by David Oliver Cauldwell in 1949.
  3. ^ Richards, Christina; Barker, Meg-John (2015-04-28). The Palgrave Handbook of the Psychology of Sexuality and Gender. Springer. p. 198. ISBN 9781137345899. Retrieved 2015-06-29. David Oliver Caudwell, an American sexologist, introduced the term 'transsexualism' in 1949 for those wishing to change physiological sex, and distinguished between biological and psychological sex.
  4. ^ anonymous. "Editorial", Archived 2011-09-30 at the Wayback Machine The International Journal of Transgender Health v5 (2001) #2 (April–June).
  5. ^ Ekins, Richard; and Dave King. "Pioneers of Transgendering: The Popular Sexology of David O. Cauldwell", Archived 2011-09-30 at the Wayback Machine The International Journal of Transgender Health v5 (2001) #2 (April–June).
  6. ^ Taylor, Michael Thomas (2008). "Schnittmuster Des Geschlechts: Transvestitismus Und Transsexualität in Der Frühen Sexualwissenschaft". Journal of Homosexuality. 55 (2): 312–316. doi:10.1080/00918360802273879. S2CID 146867322.
  7. ^ a b Death certificate for David Oliver Cauldwell
  8. ^ Medicine, Institute of; Populations, Board on the Health of Select; Committee On Lesbian, Gay (2011-06-24). The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309210652. Although he refused to endorse sex reassignment surgery for nonintersex patients, David Oliver Cauldwell coined the term transsexual in his 1949 essay "Psychopathia Transexualis" to describe individuals whose sex assigned at birth ...
  9. ^ Cauldwell, David (1949). "Psychopathia Transsexualis". Sexology: 274–280.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cauldwell, David Oliver. The Diary of a Sexologist: Intimate Observations and Experiences Revealed When a Doctor Tells His Story Haldeman-Julius Big Blue Book B-821 (1949).


[The titles of the Haldeman-Julius publications were chosen by or at the insistence of Haldeman-Julius, to provoke sales.]