Eliza Steinbock
A Pretty Knot of Lilies: Disentangling Lili Elbe’s longue durée in Pop Culture
– Comparative scholarly edition of Man into Woman (1931)
Book Chapter 2019


Lili Elbe’s enduring legacy shows how being categorized as ‘transgender phenomena,’ dubbed by Susan Stryker as a Euro-American approach to speak of trans-related objects, becomes framed by not only discourses of medicine and law, but even entertainment. As the field of trans studies took shape in the 1990s, Man into Woman was prominently analyzed in Sandy Stone’s foundational “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” but has largely languished since. I believe it has fallen out of favor as a primary transgender studies text because it strongly suggests trans identity may be caused by an intersex condition – a theory commonly floated to naturalize and anatomize transness. Yet, this is precisely why Lili’s life narration should be studied, for I follow Eva Hayward and Che Gosset in asserting that trans theorizations cannot, nor should not, be reduced to one kind of experience or an ontology. Just as it would be impossible to conjecture the true Lili, the ‘true transsexual’ exists only as an ideality in the face of a multitude of singularities.

↳ https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/man-into-woman-9781350021495/