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Gerd Katter

(March 14, 1910 - 1995, exact date unknown) 

Gerd Katter was a trans man born in Berlin, Germany in 1910. As a teenager, Katter was a patient at Magnus Hirschfeld’s famed Institute for Sexual Science, and even received a “transvestite certificate” that allowed him to live openly as his true self without reprisal from the police. Katter’s story showcases his bravery while also teaching us about life in early twentieth century Berlin.


Read this introductory essay for an overview of the history of the Nazis' persecution of LGBTQ+ people. 

This essay was written by Pink Triangle Legacies Project Founder Dr. Jake Newsome and is based on the important research of Dr. Katie Sutton, Dr. Birgit Lang, Samson Dittrich, and Thomas Jander. Thank you for your work in preserving queer history.

Gerd Katter was born in Berlin. He was assigned female at birth and given the name Eva. But Katter lived as male from early in life and went by his chosen name of Gerd (also sometimes spelled as “Gert”).


At sixteen years old, Gerd first visited the Institute for Sexual Science founded by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin, together with his mother. Clearly aware of the Institute’s reputation for assisting people whose sex or gender identity did not align with that assigned to them at birth, Gerd had approached Dr. Ludwig Levy-Lenz at the Institute with a request to surgically remove his breasts. At a cost of 500 Reichsmark, the operation proved too expensive at the time, and he had to wait another two or three years before undergoing a full mastectomy.

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld had coined the term “transvestite” nearly two decades earlier in 1910. Originally, Hirschfeld used it as a broad term that included anyone who wore clothes usually worn by people of the opposite gender. People in the community used the term themselves, including those who today might identify as transgender. Today, the term transvestite has a very specific meaning and is not the same as transgender.

In the early 1900s, staff at the Institute for Sexual Science began working with the Berlin Police Department to educate police leadership about the lives and needs of trans people. As a result, the Institute would provide medical certificates for trans patients, and the police department would issue a “transvestite certificate” (Transvestitenschein) that acted as an ID document that aligned with the person’s gender identity and protected them from being arrested under laws such as Paragraph 183, Germany’s law that classified “cross-dressing” as a public nuisance and criminal offense.


In 1928, when Gerd was eighteen, the Berlin Police Department issued him such a trans certificate. One year later, in 1929, Hirschfeld’s Institute also issued Gerd a medical certificate attesting to his male gender identity, noting that his “psychological wellbeing and capacity to work” required that wear men’s clothing. Katter in turn needed this medical documentation as part of the formal application to change his name with the local Neukölln district court.


With the protection of his trans certificate and formalized name change, Gerd went on to live a full life as his true self. He earned a living as a carpenter in Berlin. Archival evidence does not tell us what happened to Gerd during the years of Nazi rule. We do know that he survived and then lived in East Germany after the war, where he was known in his local community for his talent as an actor, singer, and MC. In 1995, Gerd Katter passed away at the age of eighty-five.

Sources & Further Reading

Alex Bakker, Rainer Herrn, Michael Thomas Taylor, and Annette F. Timm. Others of My Kind: Transatlantic Transgender Stories. University of Calgary Press, 2020.


Samson Dittrich, “Gerd Katter (1910–1995) – Trans-Mann, Patient und Lobbyist.” Mitteilungen

der Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft 64 (Feb. 2020): 18–25.


Thomas Jander, “A License to Be Different: ‘Friends and Helpers’ of Trans People in the Weimar Republic.” Deutsches Historisches Museum blog (July 23, 2019)


Birgit Lang and Katie Sutton, “An Ethics of Attentiveness: Photographic Portraits and Deviant Dwelling in German Queer and Trans Archives,” Monatshefte, Volume 114, Number 3, Fall 2022, pp. 363-383.


Andrea Rottman, Queer Lives Across the Wall: Desire and Danger in Divided Berlin, 1945-1970. University of Toronto Press, 2023.

Katie Sutton “Trans Rights and Cultures in the Weimar Republic”, in: History | Sexuality | Law (June 10, 2021).

Transgender Experiences in Weimar and Nazi Germany,” Museum of Jewish Heritage YouTube (June 3, 2022).

More PTL Project Resources on Katter

Watch the YouTube Video!
Katter Handout.png
For Citation

Jake Newsome, "LGBTQ+ Stories from Nazi Germany: Gerd Katter." (2024)

(Updated January 2024)

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