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LGBT People of History 25 - Lili Elbe

Updated on April 26, 2012
Lili Elbe before sex reassignment surgery
Lili Elbe before sex reassignment surgery | Source
Lili Elbe after sex reassignment surgery
Lili Elbe after sex reassignment surgery | Source

Lili Elbe


Lili Elbe (1882 - 1931) was one of the first people to undergo male to female sex reassignment surgery. She was born as a male probably in 1882 in Denmark and was given the name Einar Mogens Wegener.


Einar met Gerda Gottlieb and they were married in 1904. They both were professional illustrators and travelled extensively in Europe before settling in Paris in 1912. There Lili could live openly as a woman and Gerda could openly be lesbian. Lili was actually ‘born’ when Gerda asked her to dress as a model in stockings and women’s shoes. From then on Lili presented as a woman and became well accepted in their circle of friends. To others she was Gerda’s sister.


She underwent surgery in Germany in 1930 under the supervision of Magnus Hirschfeld and Kurt Warnekros. Hirschfeld removed the testicles and Warnekros removed the penis and tried unsuccessfully to transplant ovaries and a uterus in an attempt to facilitate childbearing. Due to rejection problems and other complications Lili died in 1931. The doctors tried their best for her but the techniques and technology just weren’t available at the time. So sad.


Lili was probably intersexual. She had female physical characteristics and large amounts of female hormones in her system. During surgery it was noticed that she had both male and female organs within her body.


She is interred in Dresden.


Ian and Callum.

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    • alian346 profile image
      Author

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Thanks, Callum.

      Ian.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Perfect Ian :-)

      Love it :)

      Callum.