December 1, 1952 EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BEAUTY: OPERATONS TRANSFORM BRONX YOUTH

Fifty-eight years ago today The New York Daily News broke the Christine Jorgensen story.

She wasn’t the first, which she was often credited with being.

She may have been a role model for some, although not for me.

I found her ghost written autobiography to be self-censored, expurgated and of marginal relevance when it finally came out.

Docter’s book would have served many of us better because it didn’t white wash as much.

Mostly though the published stories of Christine Jorgensen and others made it seem like life after SRS would be far easier.

The difficulties in obtaining new identification, something that was a struggle even in the 1970s weren’t mentioned.

She died in 1989 she was only 63.

The glaring headlines made the lives of transkids both easier and harder.  Easier in that Christine’s story let us see the possibility of changing sex but also gave the bullies new taunts to hurl at us.

If she had lived she would be 84.  I can’t help but wonder what she would have thought about the hordes of transsexual and transgender people bravely living their lives in all the many different ways we do these days.

I met her on a couple  of occasions, first at the San Francisco Premiere of the excretable film version of her book.

Later I photographed her speaking at a benefit for the Los Angeles Gay Community.

She was more involved with advancing the LGBT/TQ than most people think and was friendly with a number of the gay rights pioneers.

2 Responses to “December 1, 1952 EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BEAUTY: OPERATONS TRANSFORM BRONX YOUTH”

  1. tinagrrl Says:

    1952 — I was 13. In the midst of puberty. Raging hormones — yet, I knew something was wrong. Something did not “fit”. I liked girls. Found them EXCITING!! (remember, 13).

    I did NOT like boys. Did not feel very comfortable around them. Yet, I wanted to belong. Wanted to appear, and perhaps BE (or become) “normal”. I had made that decision.

    The headline, the pictures were ELECTRIFYING! There was a name for what I felt. Someone else felt the same way. There were things you could do about it — operations in far-away places.

    It was magical. It gave me HOPE.

    At the same time, I forged ahead on my quest to be “normal”.

    Didn’t work. After a very long time, many twists and turns — here I am. It all fits —– finally.

    My name, “Tina” is a homage to Christine. Whatever her later life was is unimportant to me. Her existence is what gave me hope.

    Granted I went to the bitter end before transition and SRS — but then, I think most folks do the same. You do not go ahead unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  2. James Loewen Says:

    Suzan,

    Christine Jorgensen was quite incredible and unique. She came out at a time when there were really no role models for her to follow, so she invented her own path. She became the voice of transsexuality and a very gracious and intelligent one indeed. I think many of us (trans and non-trans) admired her because she spoke publicly and positively about matters around human sexuality and gender when so very few did. I enjoyed reading in Joanne Meyerowitz’s book, “How Sex Changed” that Jorgensen was sort of a Helen Keller to sexual minorities.

    I remember finding out about Christine in grade 12 biology class from a really great teacher who was introducing us, his students to many aspects of life that we hadn’t heard about. Finding out about CJ was an earth shaking moment for me. Fist time I’d heard about anyone “changing sex” and it literally changed my life. From that moment the artificial boundaries between genders collapsed and became irrelevant.

    I have a print of a photo of Jorgensen you took at an event in the mid to late 70’s that you sold me way a few decades ago. I treasure it.

    Your comments here about Jorgensen’s autobiography and the dreadful film are very apt. Christine died too soon. I often try to imagine how she or John Lennon or Janis Joplin might comment on the events today. Our lives are richer for having “known” them but what a loss to not have heard a great deal more from them.

    Thanks for your terrific blog.


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