Hansel Schmidt, is a young East German boy, born and raised during the Cold War in communist East Berlin. In his 20s, he meets Luther Robinson, an older American soldier, who falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry, which will allow Hansel to leave communist East Germany for the West. But, in order to marry, Hansel must undergo a sex-change. However, the procedure does not go perfectly and Hansel becomes not a trans woman, but a 'genderqueer', Hedwig. Back in the USA, on their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for another man. On that same day the news headlines were of the fall of the Berlin Wall and freedom. Hedwig tours the US with her rock band and relates her life story while following her ex-boyfriend/band-mate Tommy Speck (to whom she gives the stage name "Tommy Gnosis"), who stole her songs and rose to fame.