The Danish Girl in studio

Notes on the Story of the Real Danish Girl

The movie, The Danish Girl, provides a highly entertaining version of the lives of Gerda and Einar Wegener. However, it seems that the book  Man into Woman (1933/2004) provides a more accurate assessment of the married couple. Differences between the movie version and book version are listed below:

  • The Danish Girl portrays sexual passion between Gerda and Einar/Lili. In reality, their relationship was almost purely platonic.
  • By 1931, Gerda and Lili had separated. The King of Denmark had annulled their wedding. Gerda married an Italian officer and Lili was in love with a young French painter.
  • It was after this that Lili went in for one more surgery to have a uterus put in her body, which failed. The first successful organ transplant didn’t happen until 1980. By that time, anti-rejection medicine had been discovered.
  • After Lili’s death, Gerda divorced her husband. She rented a small flat in Copenhagen. Her art was out of fashion. She drew Christmas cards that sold for one Danish Krone apiece to support herself. She started drinking and died alone in 1940.
  • Dr. Renée Richards, American ophthalmologist and former tennis player, gives the book, Man into Woman, credit for inspiring her transformation in 1974 (Herman, 1976).
  • Gerda’s art was rediscovered in the 1980s when some of her erotic drawings turned up in Copenhagen junk stores.


Herman, R. (1976, August 27). ’No exceptions,’ and no Renée Richards. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hooper, T. (Director, Producer). (2015). The Danish girl [Motion Picture]. USA: Focus Features.

Hoyer, N. (pseudonym)/ Harthern-Jacobsen, E. L. (Ed.). (1933/ 2004). Man into woman: An Authentic record of a sex change. London: Blue Boat Books Ltd

Wikipedia (2016). Lili Elbe. Omics International. Retrieved from

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