Almost none, we had to admit, until last year when Caitlyn Jenner broke out as a transgender woman, her public personal liberation bringing the existence of transgender people to the consciousness of the world and starting a movement that has been giving trans men and women everywhere the courage to step out of the shadows.
I was watching a preview before "The Danish Girl" of a trailer for a film set in a Nazi concentration camp when it hit me: the Third Reich is what happened to transgenders and those who would have advanced their cause in Lile Elbe's time. Lile Elbe's gender reassignment surgeries were performed in Dresden, Germany in 1930 and 1931; Adolph Hitler came into power in 1933.
And it was in that year that the Nazis publicly burned the writings and research library of Magnus Hirschfeld, the physician who supervised Lile Elbe's surgeries. Hirschfeld was renowned in the 1920's and early 1930's for his growing body of research in transgender and other issues of gender and sexual orientation and for promoting a growing interest in this field of study among the European scientific and medical community.
But the the nascent transgender movement of Magnus Hirschfeld's and Lile Elbe's time died along with the many millions, Jews, gypsies, Slavs, Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, people of color, gays, lesbians, transgenders, and all the others, who were declared subhuman by the Third Reich.
Nazi Germany conquered Denmark on April 9, 1940.