The Danish Girl And The S*xologist: A Story Of S*xual Pioneers

Homos*xuality is one aspect of life that has become extremely famous and is widely practiced throughout the world today. Transitioning from one gender to the other surgically is also a widely recognized thing throughout the world, though not widely practiced, but commonly known.

Who Was The Danish Girl?

Lilli was born Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener until she changed her name to Lilli Ilse Elvenes. Lilli was born on the 28th of December 1882. Lilli Elba was a Danish painter and transgender woman who was one of the first to undergo s*x reassignment surgery.

Under her birth name, she was a successful painter. She changed her legal name to Lilli Ilse Elvenes and ceased painting after transitioning in 1930; she later took the surname Elbe. She died on September 13th, 1931, as a result of complications after a uterine transplant. Her semi- autobiographical account was published posthumously in 1933 in the United States and the United Kingdom under the title Man into Woman: An Authentic Record of a Change of Se*x.

The Danish Girl And The S*xologist: A Story Of S*xual Pioneers

Einar Wegener, a Danish artist, arrived in Berlin in the spring of 1930 for a consultation that he believed would both save and improve his life.

Wegener had spent the preceding two decades dressing as Lili Elbe, a woman. Elbe was introduced as Wegener’ s sister in public by his wife, painter Gerda Gottlieb. But by 1930, he had had enough of his double existence. He made the decision to commit himself and even set a date— May 1st.

Wegener, on the other hand, chose a different path, opting for a series of groundbreaking gender reassignment procedures that transformed her into Lili Ilse Elvenes, better known as Lilli Elbe. Elbe’ s unique story has sparked debate; in fact, the film The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Murphy, is based on it.

The s*xologist Magnus Hirschfield, a man who had become both renowned and controversial across Europe for his innovative investigations into human gender and s*xuality, was instrumental in Elbe’ s revolutionary change.

Hirschfield is a lesser- known individual now than Elbe, whose posthumous 1933 biography, ” Man into Woman: The First S*x Change, ” made her story internationally famous. When his Institute for S*xual Research was attacked by Nazis in 1933, much of his legacy as a Jew and gay activist was obliterated.

But, thanks to the efforts of colleagues and students, his work has helped to change the way we think about s*xual minorities and make gender reassignment surgery the universally accepted treatment it is today.

Who Was Hirschfield?

Hirschfield was born on May 14, 1868, in the city of Kohlberg, in the German province of Prussia. He intended to study literature as a child before deciding to pursue medicine because it offered better employment opportunities.

While many gay men accepted their second- class legal position at the time, Hirschfield, who was a hidden homos*xual at the time, was shocked by society’ s and the medical community’ s attitudes regarding ” s*xual degeneracy. “

A man who had been imprisoned in an asylum for 30 years for conducting homos*xual behavior was displayed naked in front of the students at one medical school lecture he attended. Hirschfield was appalled by this inhumane treatment of a patient, comparing it to that of a laboratory animal.

Two events strengthened his resolve to specialize in treating what he referred to as ” s*xual suffering” after he graduated as a doctor in the mid- 1890s. The first was Oscar Wilde’ s trial and subsequent imprisonment for sodomy in 1895, which he saw as a horrible act of injustice.

The suicide of one of his patients, a lieutenant, the day before his wedding, was the second. ” Please could you educate the public on the horrible fate of people like me who are not fit for marriage, ” he wrote in a letter to Hirschfield. Please inform the public about our situation.

” What are you saying: that cholera provides you more delight than s*xuality? ” Hirschfield asked.

In 1897, he founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which brought together people from all over the world to promote s*xuality education and research in the hopes of ending prejudice against homos*xuals and eventually repealing German penal code paragraph 175 (which criminalized homos*xuality).

Hirschfield wanted to show that homosexuality was a biological reality rather than a perverted condition of mind, as it was considered at the time, in order to properly challenge the law of the period. He required scientific evidence.

He began to investigate the causes and nature of homos*xuality, and as his reputation grew, a growing number of male patients sought his counsel. He urged them to connect with Berlin’ s LGBT community and organized a monthly society for individuals who were uncomfortable with their s*xuality to gather and talk about their feelings. Hirschfield was, in many ways, the father of the self- help group, according to Ralf Dose, author of Hirschfield’ s latest biography.

Hirschfield’ s tactics were out of the ordinary for a doctor in his time. He thought that creating a theory required thorough observation and lengthy conversations with patients, frequently over long walks. He began by distributing a questionnaire to the patients who came to visit him in order to gather information.

He quickly realized through these questions that gender was far from binary, as previously supposed, and that the differences between men and women were complicated and complex.

In Berlin, he founded the world’ s first Institute for S*xual Science in 1919, which would make him famous throughout Europe over the next decade. From movie stars to poets like W. H. Auden, the rich and intellectual elite of Europe flocked to the institute’ s museum, which housed everything from s*x education information to the institute’ s studies on trans- s*xuality.

” At the time, Berlin was a very affordable place to live due to inflation and the German economy. ” As a result, elite society flocked there, ” Dose explained. ” They quickly learned about this well- known museum with all of these startling exhibits. It was a must- see for tourists to Berlin at the time. “

Hirschfield was a great networker as well. He backed the production of the anti- homos*xual film Different from the Others (Anders ales die Andern) in 1919, which polarized German society. He was also a prolific lecturer, giving over 200 presentations a year to crowds of tens of thousands of people to promote his ideals.

He was one of the few people who talked about these topics so publicly and frankly, ” Dose added. Someone who would give interviews, presentations, and write about radically different viewpoints.

As a result of his celebrity, he became a consultant for many of Germany’ s pioneering gender reassignment treatments. Hirschfield may have been the most well- known German s*xologist, but he certainly wasn’ t the only one. The first transgender surgery was performed in 1912 on a female painter who believed she was a man and had both her breasts and ovaries removed.

In the same year, Austrian professor Eugene Steinbach transplanted ovaries into male guinea pigs who had been castrated as children then reversed the surgery on female guinea pigs. He observed that as males reached puberty, they showed no interest in females and developed breasts and nipples.

How Trans- S*xuality Was Invented

Scientists would take decades to isolate the male and female s*x chemicals estrogen and testosterone, but many of these experimental procedures were carried out on humans during the 1920s, with the first neo- vag*nal transplant taking place in 1921. These operations were exceedingly dangerous, but Hirschfield noticed that many patients were desperate, with some threatening to mutilate their own s*x organs until a surgeon agreed to perform a procedure.

Hirschfield was well aware of the lengths to which many patients were willing to go in order to change their gender by the time he met Elbe in 1930. Hirschfield’ s original questionnaire, intended to document the world of trans- s*xuality, had grown to 130 questions by this point, and he had gathered data from tens of thousands of people.

The questionnaire, as well as the ambiguity of trans- s*xuality as it was depicted at the institute, apparently disgusted Elbe. Rainer Herrn, a s*xology researcher at Berlin’ s Charité hospital, says, ” He described being asked to answer all these very unpleasant and strict questions. ” ” He objected to terms like transvesical and transvesical being used to describe s*xual intermediaries.

Elbe’ s Death

Nothing has survived of the specific discussions between Elbe and Hirschfield, but Elbe had his testicles removed in Berlin under Hirschfield’ s supervision, followed by three further procedures in Dresden. A womb transplant was the ultimate and lethal procedure, performed many decades before the introduction of drugs to prevent organ rejection. On September 13, 1931, Elbe died of heart failure.

” [Elbe] wanted implanted ovaries and uterus because to be a true woman at the time, you had to be able to produce children, ” Hern explains. ” That was [her] ideal, and she was fixated on it. ” [Elbe] fantasizes about being a ” full” woman in her biography, which is based on her diaries.

Hirschfield’ s reaction to hearing about Elbe’ s death is unknown. He had already left Germany on a worldwide speaking tour and would never return. His persistently vocal attitude toward homos*xuality and transs*xual rights, as well as his status as a Jew, have acquired increasingly powerful detractors over the past decade.

It is safe to say that being gay or changing one’ s s*xuality or gender is not a thing of today as it dates as far back as the time of the Danish.

Thanks for reading.

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