In an era when society only accepted cisgender individuals in their category of ‘normal and sane human beings’, both of you possessed enough courage to break this stereotype and embrace the change in your relationship that revolutionised the narrow perspectives people held on gender and masculinity.
Einar, the discovery of your lurking desires to be a woman and your efforts in trying to rediscover your feminine persona Lili was a journey that generates a ray of hope of in all the transgender community to assert their identity in a society that ‘others’ them. Einar, you weren’t different, you were just way ahead of your time.
Gerda, your emotional turmoil in letting go of Einar to become Lili and constantly supporting her decision of undergoing sex reassignment surgery is a reflection of your wide outlook. The way your portraits captured Lili a.k.a. Einar’s suppressed emotions, representing her as an epitome of ‘femme fatale’, justifies how art is the best medium to express one’s repressed emotions.
Lili and Gerda, the path both of you traversed wasn’t a blissful one, it was filled with hurdles, but both of you never gave up on each other. Lili, witnessing your forceful gulps accompanied by your existential crisis wrenches our heart. We saw you becoming a victim of marginalisation in trying to expose your feminine self to the prejudiced society. When you said, “This is not my body and I have to let it go”, we could to relate to the sheer agony you faced due to this gender incongruence.
Gerda, we could empathise with the commotion you endured in coping with this relationship. When you said, “I need to talk to my husband and I need to hold my husband. Can you at least try?”, it sliced our heart with emotional torment as we could relate to the excruciating pain you felt witnessing Einar’s gradual transformation to Lili. Yet when Lili said, “I love you, because you are the only person who made sense of me, who made me possible,” it depicted the unwavering love and faith you instilled in Einar and we all yearn to have a life partner like you, Gerda, who will stick with us through thick and thin.
Lili, you are an emblem of inspiration to all those transgender individuals who are still engulfed by the fear of acknowledging themselves. It wasn’t easy for you juggle two personalities, abiding by the conventions of society. From a famous landscape painter to secretly wearing Gerda’s camisoles, from being a husband to Gerda to posing as a model in your feminine persona for her portraits, from detesting the male persona of Einar in your reflections to being labelled as schizophrenic and insane whenever you sought medical help, and after a lot of tumult finally accepting your identity by saying, “God made me a woman”, this harrowing experience of your self-recognition will ignite flames of courage in the hearts of other suppressed souls.
Lili and Gerda, your eternal bond redefined the pre-conceived notions of feminism and love. Lili, through you we learnt that one doesn’t need to have a feminine body in order to possess the soul of a woman. And Gerda, you showed us that the intensity of love can overpower any barriers. This love story of two Danish girls will be forever engraved in our hearts as a souvenir of dauntless bravery and true love.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.