Welcome to the Lili Elbe Digital Archive

Please pardon our loose ends and dropped stitches, for we are still in the process of knitting this site together. But we did not want to miss the opportunity to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science (Institut für Sexualwissenschaft) by launching this site on July 6, 2019. Hirschfeld’s institute, where Lili Elbe as Einar Wegener was initially examined in March 1930, and Elbe’s life narrative, documented here, are both significant milestones in the history of gender variance.

Lili Ilse Elvenes, popularly known as Lili Elbe, has been considered by some scholars (and by the narrative itself) to be the first person to undergo what was then called genital transformation surgery. Certainly Elbe’s life story is the first full-length and well-documented narrative of such a transition. The archive hosts all four editions of this narrative published in Danish, German, and English between 1931 and 1933, plus the first complete English translations of the Danish edition and the German typescript. When completed, the site will include the French version published in Voilà (November 1934) with an English translation. Access all versions through Narrative, and archival and contextual materials through Context and Commentary.

Please visit us often over the next few months and watch our progress. We plan to cast off in February 2020, when Man into Woman: A Comparative Scholarly Edition will be published by Bloomsbury.