10. Karl Baer: The German woman’s rights activist who became the first person to undergo sex-change surgery.
When Martha Baer was born on May 20, 1885, the midwife told the new baby’s parents that they had a daughter. However, afterward, she privately confided to Martha’s father that his daughter’s body had “such strange characteristics that she had no way of determining the gender.” Childhood proved uncomfortable for young Marthe who stated later in life she was “born as a boy and raised as a girl. At puberty, âshe’ did not develop a woman’s body. Finally, in 1904, Baer abandoned any pretense at femininity and began to live as a man, while at the same time campaigning for women’s rights.
However, not all of Baer’s fellow feminists were at ease with âher’ masculine appearance. Then in 1906, fate took a hand. Baer went to a hospital after being knocked over by a tram, and ‘her’ unusual anatomy was noted. Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a sexologist subsequently diagnosed Baer as “a man who was mistakenly identified as a woman.” Hirschfeld arranged corrective surgery, and later that year, Baer became the first person to have sex-change surgery. Marthe finally became Karl, and on January 8, 1907, a court ratified Karl Baer’s male identity. Karl Baer later recorded his experiences in a semi-fictional memoir ” “Man’s Years as a Young Girl” He married twice and ended his life as an accountant living in Israel.