It was sometime in the early years of their marriage when Gerda Weganer asked her husband, Einar, to dress in women’s clothes and sit for a painting. The intended subject was running late, and suggested to Gerda that Einar be her stand in. “His legs and feet are as pretty as mine,” she said.
All dressed up in a wig, painted with rouge and powders, and buckled into high-heeled shoes, Einar, now Lili, looked into the mirror with a singular wonder: “Was it really possible that I could be so good looking?”
So begins the story of Lili Elbe, a transgender painter and painter’s muse, who underwent one of the first series of modern gender confirmation surgeries. Her third surgery, meant to implant a uterus, eventually killed her, but not before she documented her life stories into papers that would later be compiled into the book, Man into Woman.
Lili Elbe’s hope was that her book fall into the hands of people like her. She wanted her words to help generations of trans people know that they weren’t alone. Unfortunately, the book is out of print. So when we got our hands on a copy, we couldn’t wait to share one of our favorite scenes, Lili’s christening night. Here’s a little history, from The Heart.