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Transgender and The Literary ImaginationChanging Gender in Twentieth-Century Writing$
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Rachel Carroll

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414661

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414661.001.0001

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Two Beings/One Body: Intersex Lives and Transsexual Narratives in Man into Woman (1931) and David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl (2000)

Two Beings/One Body: Intersex Lives and Transsexual Narratives in Man into Woman (1931) and David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl (2000)

Chapter:
(p.125) Chapter 4 Two Beings/One Body: Intersex Lives and Transsexual Narratives in Man into Woman (1931) and David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl (2000)
Source:
Transgender and The Literary Imagination
Author(s):

Rachel Carroll

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414661.003.0005

This chapter examines David Ebershoff’s novel The Danish Girl, a historical fiction based on the life of Lili Elbe (1882–1931), reputed to be one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment treatment. Genres of life writing have played a prominent role in the representation of transgender lives; the relationship between historical record, autobiography and historical fiction is complicated by the possibility that Elbe may have been an intersex person. This chapter examines the extent to which conventions of transsexual life writing obscure narratives of intersex existence, investigating the novel’s relationship to a formative source text, a generically hybrid auto/biography. The implications of the novel’s reliance on the binary categories of identity prevalent in Man into Woman will be explored in relation to categories of sex, gender (especially femininity) and sexuality (specifically male homosexuality).

Keywords:   Femininity, fiction, homosexuality, intersex, life writing, transgender

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