"Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad." — Euripidies, from "Prometheus"
Einar Wegener—Europe's best known transgender person in the early 20th century—lived a satisfying and perhaps gratifying male life for a very short time. He painted and partied, drank and danced and sailed on the clear calm water of life for his first twenty years. If he caught a glimpse of storm clouds gathering on the horizon he gave no hint. But the storm was coming, and a strange lightning bolt would strike Einar, shattering his egg shell mind, stripping his flesh all the way down to the bone. This is a description of the life of Einar Wegener aka Lili Elbe … and about the way my own life resembled theirs. The plural will make sense as we proceed.
I know the transgender journey well. I too suffered the same path of secret despair and self loathing in the grip of gender dysphoria before it was a recognized medical concept. At the age of 12 — a tad earlier than Einar if we are to believe the apocryphal storyline of his autobiography The Danish Girl and the movie based on it — I realized that I was the only person in the world who felt displaced in a body incongruous with my emotional self. When I was not quite ten years old I discovered the life of Christine Jorgensen, America's First Lady of Trans, and a little light went off deep within my awareness. Perhaps, I dared to hope, I was not alone?