Transsexual Celebrities / Christine Jorgensen

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STATUS: Post-op



Christine Jorgensen ( May 30 , 1926 – May 3 , 1989 ), a noted photographer, was born George William Jorgensen, Jr. in The Bronx , New York City , USA, and is famous for being one of the first people to have sex reassignment surgery — in this case, male to female .

George Jorgensen had an unhappy childhood growing up in the Bronx, and later described himself as having been a "frail, tow-headed, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games." [1] Jorgensen graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 1945 and was drafted into the Army afterward. When he returned to New York after the Army, he heard about the possibility of gender reassignment and researched it thoroughly, finally going to Copenhagen to participate in hormone therapy and eventually a series of surgeries.

A media sensation was created on December 1 , 1952 when the New York Daily News carried a front-page story (under the headline "Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell") announcing that in Denmark Jorgensen had become the recipient of the first successful sex reassignment surgery. (Genital-reassignment surgery had actually been performed on Danish artist Lili Elbe in 1930, but it is believed that Elbe was intersex and not truly transgender .) When Jorgensen returned to New York in February 1953 she found herself an instant celebrity.

Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Christian Hamburger , the Danish surgeon who performed her operation and who supervised her hormone therapy. Jorgensen became a willing spokesperson for transsexual and transgender people. New York radio host Barry Gray asked her if 1950s jokes such as "Christine Jorgensen went abroad, and came back a broad" bothered her, she laughed and said they did not at all. However, another notorious encounter demonstrated that Jorgensen could be offended by some queries: Jorgensen once appeared on The Dick Cavett Show . Cavett insulted her by asking about the status of her romantic life with her "wife", and she walked off the show; since she was the only guest scheduled, Cavett spent the rest of that show talking about how he had not meant to offend her.

Jorgensen is referred to in the 1994 movie Ed Wood as the original inspiration for the movie that became Glen or Glenda? . Christine is also the subject of a 1970s film The Christine Jorgensen Story .

During the 1970s and 1980s , Jorgensen toured university campuses and other venues to speak about her experiences. She was known for her directness and polished wit. In her later years, Jorgensen worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer. In summer stock, she played Madame Rosepettle in the play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad . In her nightclub act, she sang several songs, including "I Enjoy Being a Girl" and at the end made a quick change into a Wonder Woman costume: as she later recalled in her act, Warner Communications demanded that she cease and desist from using the character, which she did, substituting a new character of her own invention, "Superwoman" which was marked by the inclusion of a large letter 'S' on her cape. Miss Jorgensen continued with her act until at least the Fall of 1982, when she performed twice in the Hollywood area, once at the now closed Backlot Theatre adjacent to the discotheque 'Studio One' and later at The Frog Pond restaurant, also now closed.

Christine said in 1989, the year of her death, that she'd given the sexual revolution "a good swift kick in the pants." Christine died of cancer at age 62.

In Christine Jorgensen Reveals , a stage performance at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe , Jorgensen is portrayed by Bradford Louryk. To great critical acclaim, Louryk dressed as Jorgensen and performed to a genuine recorded interview with her during the 1950s while video of Rob Grace as the comically inept interviewer, Mr. Russell, played on a nearby black and white television set. The Lp was reissued on CD by Repeat The Beat Records in 2005