“It is also for those who wish to understand more of the human spirit; what strengths we have as individuals to search for and find our true selves, whatever the risk and possible dangers.”
Lili Elbe, formally known as Einar Wegener, was the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Elbe was born in Denmark in 1882 and moved to Copenhagen to study art at the Royal Danish Academy. That was where Elbe met Gerda Gottlieb, and they married in 1905. In the 1920’s, Elbe learned about the option of sexual reassignment surgery at the German Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. This was where Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld performed the first of four surgeries on her. In 1930, Lili was able to legally change her gender, but that came with other complications. Once she was legally recognized as a woman, the King of Denmark nullified her marriage with Gerda. They parted ways peacefully and soon Lili found a new love interest in an old friend. She planned for her next surgery to have a uterus transplant and hopefully be able to get pregnant but passed away while recovering from surgery in 1931. Lili Elbe’s story was retold through The Danish Girl in 2015.
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