In 1930 Danish artist Einar Wegener underwent a series of surgeries to become Lili Elvenes (more commonly known as Lili Elbe). Whether or not she can lay claim to being the first historical “transsexual,” her life story, Fra Mand til Kvinde (Man into Woman), published in Copenhagen in 1931, is certainly the first full-length narrative of a subject who undergoes a surgical change in sex. Produced collaboratively by multiple agents, Fra Mand til Kvinde was re-edited and published in German in 1932 (Ein Mensch wechselt sein Geschlecht), with English-language translations in Britain and the U.S. in 1933 (Man into Woman: An Authentic Record of a Change of Sex).
Title pages to the four editions of Man into Woman that we will be editing, translating, and collating.
Comparing the German typescript and the four versions published in three languages between 1931 and 1933 discloses how a narrative of “transsexuality” was shaped by cultural values, linguistic choices, and editorial decisions. Our comparative scholarly edition now underway will make this historically important work widely available to historians and literary scholars of the early 20th century, to historians and scholars of transgender, and to the general public. The print edition will be published by Bloomsbury Academic (London) with an accompanying digital archive hosted by Loyola University Chicago’s Libraries and supported by its Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities.