Esther Pirelli, or Esben Benestad, is Norway's single most famous transvestite. (Yes, he did take the last name from the tyre manufacturer.)

Benestad is a doctor and sexologist and lives with his sexologist wife Elsa Almås, who is also Pirelli's best friend (are you confused yet?) - and they are both public persons in Norway. He has been open about being a transvestite for years now, and he even showed bathing suits for both men and women in VG, Norway's biggest daily paper, some years ago. My grandmother actually thought this was rather funny, which should be a good illustration of how Pirelli/Benestad has helped general acceptance of transvestites in Norway (- said grandmother is not quite as open-minded on every issue).

Lately, Pirelli/Benestad has also gone international, thanks to his son's movie All About My Father (2002), a very personal documentary on being a transvestite and, not least, about being the son and family of a transvestite. The movie also includes interviews with the director's mother, who divorced Pirelli/Benestad 16 years ago. The production company and director Even Benestad successfully made quite a fuss of the movie in Norway, among other things by spreading stories like Pirelli/Benestad and his wife refusing to speak to Even Benestad for weeks after seeing the movie (which was, it appears, a slight exaggeration). Also, father and son went to the Berlin film festival together in 2002, with the father most often appearing as Esther Pirelli, feeling that this was more natural due to the glamour of the situation.

A cute anecdote involving the movie is from Grimstad on Norway's south coast, where Benestad lives. Due to his practicing medicine there most of his adult life, he has quite a lot of elderly patients, all of whom took great interest in the movie at its release. The local cinema got, for the first time in its existence, a problem figuring out where to put all the rollators belonging to the audience.

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