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24 January 2008

Erwin Gohrbandt (1890 - 1965) pioneer surgeon

This doctor is not usually mentioned in the histories of transsexual surgery. Of course the two sex-change surgeries are only a small part of his curriculum vitae.

Erwin Gohrbandt studied medicine at the Military Medical Academy and graduated in 1917. He worked at the Charité Universitätsmedizin in Berlin. He did the initial operations on the first two transsexuals to have modern surgery.

In 1922 Magnus Hirschfeld arranged for Gohrbandt to do the castration on Dörchen Richter.

In 1931 Dr Kurt Warnekros arranged for Gohrbandt to do the castration and penectomy on Lili Elevenes (Elbe), the Danish artist.

From 1940 he worked at the Urban Hospital and was also the Medical Chief and later a general for the Luftwaffe. He also participated in lethal hypothermia experiments at Dachau Concentration Camp and in October 1942 presented a paper to the Hypothermia Conference held at the Deutscher Hof Hotel in Nuremberg. In February 1945, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkeuzes (Knight's Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords) on Hitler's personal authority.

He escaped prosecution after the war, retired in 1958 and died a wealthy and respected citizen.
  • Felix Abraham. “Genitalumwandlungen an zwei männlichen Transvestiten”. Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft und Sexualpolitik, 18: 223-226. 1931. English translation as “Genital Reassignment on Two Male Transvestites”. The International Journal of Trangenderism. 2, 1. Jan-Mar 1998.
  • Erwin Gohrbandt und Joachim Gabka von de Gruyter. Handbuch der plastischen Chirurgie. De Gruyter 1966. 3 Volumes.
  • Stella Purvis. "Record of a Change of Sex". GScene. May 2005.


  1. Anonymous24/3/08 20:56

    Felix Abraham (1931) is quite clear that the neo-vagina was created by Gohrbandt, and that castration and penectomy in the Wegener/Elbe case was undertaken by Ludwig Levy-Lenz (1889 - 1976), and not as described above - Stella

    1. Abraham says nothing about Lili Elbe. The patient, other than Dorchen, in his paper is Toni Ebel.


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