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Lili Elbe

Painter and 1st Recipient of Gender-Reassignment Surgery Lili Elbe

Full Name: Einar Wegener
Profession: Painter and 1st Recipient of Gender-Reassignment Surgery


Biography: The first documented recipient of gender-reassignment surgery, Lili Elbe was born male and had a successful career as a painter for most of her life.

When studying art at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Elbe (then Wegener) met painter and fashion illustrator Gerda Gottlieb, getting married in about 1905.

According to her posthumously published autobiography, Man into Woman, Elbe realized her true gender identity when Gerda asked her to don women’s clothing and sit as her model. Wegener was her regular model thereafter.

Beginning in 1930, Elbe underwent a series of surgeries to help her biologically transition into womanhood. Following the final surgery Elbe caught an infection and died several months later.

Elbe has been most notably remembered in popular culture by the film and best-selling novel, "The Danish Girl."

Born: December 28, 1882
Birthplace: Vejle, Denmark
Star Sign: Capricorn

Died: September 13, 1931 (aged 48)
Cause of Death: Dies from complications following the world's 1st uterus transplant

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