Australian independent book publisher Allen & Unwin has re-issued The Danish Girl, the novel based on the life of Lili Elbe née Einar Wegener and her wife, the painter Gerda Wegener, written by David Ebershoff and first released by Viking in the United States in 2000.
Lili Elbe was the first well-known intersex person to undergo urogenital correction surgery, in Germany in the 1930s.
She had been given the name Lili some years before, when she began posing for the many paintings of her that made Gerda famous, in Copenhagen and Paris.
When going about her business in the streets of Paris as Einar, Lili was often criticised by strangers for being a girl who dared to dress up in men’s clothes. The surgery helped her better live as herself.
Lurid media coverage of ‘the world’s first sex change’ and ‘the world’s first transsexual’ skirts around the facts that Lili relates herself in the memoirs upon which The Danish Girl is based, and which David Ebershoff acknowledges in his novel.