Lili Elbe

Lili Elbe

Believed to be the first person in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery
Date of Birth: 28.12.1882
Country: Denmark

  1. The First Person to Undergo Gender Reassignment Surgery
  2. A Unique Marriage
  3. A Life in Paris
  4. A Risky Journey
  5. A Life Remembered
  6. The Danish Girl

The First Person to Undergo Gender Reassignment Surgery

Einar Mogens Wegener was born in 1882 in Denmark. He lived most of his life as a man and was a talented landscape artist. However, Einar is best known for being the first person in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Lili Elbe

A Unique Marriage

While studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Einar met Gerda Gottlieb. They got married in 1904 and had an unconventional relationship. Despite Einar officially being a man, they were more like a lesbian couple. They often worked together as illustrators, with Gerda focusing on fashion illustrations and Einar on landscapes.

Lili Elbe

A Life in Paris

In 1912, Einar and Gerda moved to Paris, where Einar began openly living as a woman named Lili. Lili became Gerda's favorite model, and her influence even contributed to the idealization of a small-breasted female figure. Lili lived a double life for two decades, officially a man on paper but presenting as a woman in public. She was a popular figure and had many male admirers who were unaware of her true identity.

A Risky Journey

In 1930, Lili traveled to Germany to undergo gender reassignment surgery. At the time, this type of surgery was experimental and carried significant risks. Lili underwent several successful surgeries but tragically died after a failed uterus transplant in September 1931. She was engaged to be married and had planned to have a child through the transplant procedure.

A Life Remembered

By 1930, Lili had gained significant attention and became a newspaper sensation. The King of Denmark even personally annulled her marriage to Gerda Gottlieb. After their divorce, Gerda remarried and spent some time in Morocco before returning to Denmark, where she passed away in 1940. Lili's life story became the subject of multiple books, and her case was unique in the field of sexology.

The Danish Girl

In 2001, David Ebershoff's novel "The Danish Girl," based on Lili's life, became a national bestseller and was adapted into a film.