Lili Elbe

Lili Ilse Elvenes, better known as Lili Elbe (28 December 1882 – 13 September 1931), was a Danish transgender woman and one of the first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Elbe was born Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener and was a successful painter under that name. She also presented as Lili (sometimes spelled Lily) and was publicly introduced as Einar’s sister. After successfully transitioning in 1930, she made a legal name change to Lili Ilse Elvenes and stopped painting altogether. The name „Lili Elbe” was made up by Copenhagen journalist Louise „Loulou” Lassen. Lili died from complications involving a uterus transplant. Her autobiography, Man into Woman, was posthumously published in 1933. Elbe’s year of birth is sometimes stated as 1886. This appears to be from a book about her, which has some facts changed to protect the identities of the persons involved. Factual references to the life of Elbe’s wife Gerda Gottlieb indicate that the 1882 date is correct since they clearly married while at college in 1904. It is highly likely that Elbe was an intersex person, though it is disputed by some.

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