chapter  12
13 Pages

Lili Elbe’S transmedial presence and the politics of transgender studies

WithEliza Steinbock

This chapter demonstrates the stakes for achieving self-definition as a trans person via Lili Elbe's life story/narrative. It explicates the importance of how narrative voice orients readers/viewers of her life, and how readers/viewers can learn to listen to protagonists in a transgender-sensitive manner discourses on trans people and their lives have been dominated by two twinned discourses: cisgender is the normal gender identity and, therefore, any trans* expression or identity is a medical if not pathological condition. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Lili as painter and co-creator of her own presence. The different textual and visual mediums come with affordances for reaching audiences, attaining authenticity and grasping trans subjectivity. However, the transmedial quality of Lili's (self-)representations already indicates the ways in which trans bridges multiple layers of cultural analysis: a form of socially transgressive crossing, an identity across a life course, and a connecting theme throughout different cultural forms.