One of the events in LGBT History Month that I am sad I was unable to attend is CN Lester’s lecture at Oxford University. Like me, CN takes a keen interest in trans history, and they have made a particular study of the later 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m expecting to learn a lot more when their book, Trans Like Me, comes out in May. In the meantime, however, their lecture throws a bit of light on some key issues, and demonstrates clearly how erasure of trans history by the mainstream media is hugely damaging to our cause.
I knew that the film, The Danish Girl, was bad, but I haven’t had a chance to look into the issues as thoroughly as I would like. CN has done the work, not just looking at Lili Elbe’s original supposed memoir, but finding out how that too was changed to appeal to a cis readership. By the time we have been through that, the novel that the film is based on, and the film itself, Lili’s life is all but unrecognizable.
If you want to learn more, you can watch the lecture here:
The short version is that there have always been trans people. There have always been:
“Those of them who […] have desired to be completely changed into women and gone on to mutilate their genital organs”
Not the most flattering of descriptions, but that was Philo of Alexandria. He died in 50 CE.