Harry Benjamin, M.D.

Harry Benjamin

January 12, 1885 – August 24, 1986

Harry Benjamin was an endocrinologist and gerontologist who emigrated to the United States during the First World War. He is best known for his clinical work with transsexuals and as the author of 1966 text The Transsexual Phenomenon, which defined the clinical syndrome and argued for compassionate medical hormonal and surgical treatment in select cases.

Benjamin treated his first transsexual patient in 1948 at the request of Alfred Kinsey. He began receiving referrals from other sexologists and from the patients themselves. News of Christine Jorgensen’s sex reassignment in Denmark made headlines from 1952 on, resulting in hundreds of patients who he saw in his offices in New York and San Francisco. Benjamin published a number of journal articles and gave lectures about his patients, popularizing the word transsexual. His The Transsexual Phenomenon was the first lengthy treatise on transsexualism and was influential and highly regarded.

Benjamin lived to be 101. Virginia Prince told me on several occasions that when she asked him what he did on his 100th birthday, he told her he looked in the mirror. When she asked why, he said “I’ve always wanted to know what a one hundred-year-old man looks like!”


Benjamin, Harry. (1966). The transsexual phenomenon: A scientific report on transsexualism and sex conversion in the human male and female. New York: Julian Press.