Trans History for LGBT History Month - Lili Elbe 1882 - 1931


Lili Elbe, from Denmark, was one of the first people to transition medically from male to female. She met Danish illustrator Gerda Gottlieb at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and they married in 1904.Both worked as illustrators in their youth and travelled through Italy and France eventually settling in Paris in 1912, where Lili could live openly as a woman.

Lili famously inspired Gerda’s depictions of petite femmes fatales when asked to stand in for Gerda’s absentee model, a mode of dress that she became increasingly comfortable with.

By the time of Elbe’s surgeries in 1930, her case had been made into a media sensation in Denmark and Germany, and she managed to change her sex and name legally, whilst the King of Denmark invalidated her marriage to Gerda. She was one of the first people to undergo male to female sex reassignment which was at the time only in an experimental state.

Check out more trans history at Gendered intelligence’s ‘Trans History' tag.

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