‘The Danish Girl’ Cast Clarifies Transgender Misconceptions

     November 23, 2015


Prior to most screenings, you’re given a big packet of press notes that offers some information about the production and quotes from the filmmakers, but in addition to that, the press notes for The Danish Girl also came with a very handy “terms to know” section. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener. Back in 1926, he was a successful landscape painter living with his wife and fellow artist Gerda (Alicia Vikander) in Copenhagen, but when Gerda asks Einar to fill in for her subject by wearing her dress, it awakens something in him. Soon thereafter, Einar accepts Lili as her true self and goes on to become the first person to undergo gender confirmation surgery.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Redmayne, Vikander, Amber HeardMatthias Schoenaerts and director Tom Hooper to discuss the film and opted to ask them all about their own transgender misconceptions and what they learned while making the film. Check out what they told me in this video interview and be sure to keep an eye out for much more from the cast here on Collider. I’ve also got that “terms to know section” from the press notes for you below. The Danish Girl hits select theaters on November 27th and will expand in December.


Here’s the “terms to know” section:

Cisgender (a.k.a. “cis”) – A cisgender person is someone whose gender identity (their internal sense of themselves as a man or a woman) matches the sex they wereassigned at birth. “Cis-” is a Latin prefix meaning “on the same side as,” and is therefore an antonym of “trans-.” A more widely understood way todescribe people who are not transgender is simply to say “non-transgender people.”


Transgender (a.k.a. “trans”) – A transgender person is someone whose gender identity (their internal sense of themselves as a man or a woman) is different than the sexthey were assigned at birth. Transgender is an adjective, and not a noun; therefore, “Scott is a transgender man” is correct and “Scott is a transgender”is incorrect. For the plural, “transgender people” is correct and “transgenders” is incorrect.


Transition – Transition is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition is the process trans people undertaketo bring their body and their gender expression into alignment with their inner gender identity. It includes some or all of the following personal,medical, and legal steps: telling one’s family, friends, and co-workers; using a different name and new pronouns; dressing differently; changing one’s nameand/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more types of surgery. The exact steps involved in transition varyfrom person to person.


Gender Confirmation Surgery – An updated term for sex reassignment surgery, one step in the medical transition process that some trans people undergo. This terminology is preferableto the outdated phrase “sex change.”


LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning community.

And here’s the official synopsis for The Danish Girl:

The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne [“The Theory of Everything”] and Alicia Vikander [“Ex Machina”]), directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Misérables”). Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.


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