It’s been 60 years since the first he turned she: Bronx-born Christine Jorgensen’s historic sexual reassignment surgery in Denmark

In New York the best thing one can say about the Daily News is that it is easy to read on the subway or the train into the city.

Also while the New York Times has the news the Daily News has the cartoons.

Sixty years ago the Daily News  screwed up the Christine Jorgensen story.  Or perhaps I should say she screwed up her own story.  In making her big publicity leap by claiming to be the first she managed to set of the first bitch fest among post-transsexual women.

You see the British sister Roberta Cowell beat her by a year and a half.  Also Roberta Cowell had a vaginoplasty and Christine didn’t until several years later.

Roberta Cowell took Christine down a peg or two in her memoir Roberta Cowell’s Story.

From Wikipedia:Roberta Cowell, (born 21 May 1921 in Croydon), was the first known British male-to-female transsexual to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Born Robert Cowell, she was a Spitfire pilot in World War II and a racing driver after the war. She had a vaginoplasty on 15 May 1951, via a surgical method invented and performed by Dr Harold Gillies. This occurred two years before Christine Jorgensen‘s surgery in Denmark. Roberta Cowell’s surgical transformation and friendship with the female-to-male transsexual Michael Dillon, also operated on by Dr Harold Gillies, is documented in the book The First Man-Made Man by Pagan Kennedy.[1]

I wasn’t exactly impressed by Christine’s book in the late 1960s when I was first coming out.  There was something about it that smelled dishonest.

In the spring of 1970 Gina, a sister I was living with in East Oakland, and I went to the San Francisco premier of her movie, where we met her.  She was nice, her movie stunk.

I met her again on a couple of other occasions when she was speaking at gay and lesbian events and was far more impressed.

So it has been 60 years.

I had my SRS over 40 years ago.  I’ve out lived her by a couple of years and had my surgery a couple of years longer.

I’m a youngster and there are sisters who have been post-op some 10-15 years longer than I have.  While it is a hard life it isn’t a guarantee of a young death, one of the things doctors warned us about in the early days.

From the NY Daily News:

Former Army Pvt. George Jorgensen made headlines around the world when he returned from Denmark as a blond woman named Christine.

Friday, November 30, 2012

This weekend marks the 60-year anniversary of the first widely known successful sexual reassignment surgery — when a boy from the Bronx became a lady.

Former Army Pvt. George Jorgensen made headlines around the world when he returned from Denmark as a blond woman named Christine. But before Jorgensen shocked the world, she shocked her family.

“Nature made a mistake which I have had corrected, and now I am your daughter,” Jorgensen wrote to her parents, shortly after the operation.

While serving in the U.S. Army, Jorgensen — who felt trapped in the wrong body since adolescence — read an article about a Danish doctor who was experimenting with sex hormones on animals.

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From The BBC:

Christine Jorgensen: 60 years of sex change ops

By Chloe Hadjimatheou
29 November 2012

News of a pioneering sex change operation, one of the first involving both surgery and hormone therapy, was announced in 1952 – exactly 60 years ago this weekend.

“Ex-GI becomes blonde beauty!” screamed one headline as newspapers in the United States broke the news.

George Jorgensen, a quiet New Yorker, shocked a nation by returning from a trip to Denmark transformed into the glamorous Christine.

As the slender, blonde 27-year-old woman wrapped in a fur coat stepped out of the plane on to the tarmac in New York, her long eyelashes, high cheekbones and full red lips betrayed little of the shy man she had once been.

Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx, a happy child in a large close-knit family.

As a teenager he became convinced he was trapped in the wrong body.

“In photographs from the time Jorgensen looks like a very gay man, which would have been a problem,” says Teit Ritzau, a Danish doctor and documentary maker who got to know Christine Jorgensen when he made a film about her in the 1980s.

“The young Jorgensen never identified himself with homosexuality but rather as a woman who happened to be in a man’s body,” he says.

In her autobiography Jorgensen says that, while she was still living as George, despite being attracted to men she felt physically sick when a man propositioned her.

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DSM-5: Psychiatrists OK Vast Changes To Diagnosis Manual

From Huffington Post:

Eliminating the term “gender identity disorder.” It has been used for children or adults who strongly believe that they were born the wrong gender. But many activists believe the condition isn’t a disorder and say calling it one is stigmatizing. The term would be replaced with “gender dysphoria,” which means emotional distress over one’s gender. Supporters equated the change with removing homosexuality as a mental illness in the diagnostic manual, which happened decades ago.

By Lindsey Tanner

CHICAGO — The now familiar term “Asperger’s disorder” is being dropped. And abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums will be given a scientific-sounding diagnosis called DMDD. But “dyslexia” and other learning disorders remain.

The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by the nation’s psychiatrists. Changes were approved Saturday.

Full details of all the revisions will come next May when the American Psychiatric Association’s new diagnostic manual is published, but the impact will be huge, affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. The manual also is important for the insurance industry in deciding what treatment to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.

This diagnostic guide “defines what constellations of symptoms” doctors recognize as mental disorders, said Dr. Mark Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatry professor. More important, he said, it “shapes who will receive what treatment. Even seemingly subtle changes to the criteria can have substantial effects on patterns of care.”

Olfson was not involved in the revision process. The changes were approved Saturday in suburban Washington, D.C., by the psychiatric association’s board of trustees.

The aim is not to expand the number of people diagnosed with mental illness, but to ensure that affected children and adults are more accurately diagnosed so they can get the most appropriate treatment, said Dr. David Kupfer. He chaired the task force in charge of revising the manual and is a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

One of the most hotly argued changes was how to define the various ranges of autism. Some advocates opposed the idea of dropping the specific diagnosis for Asperger’s disorder. People with that disorder often have high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills. Some who have the condition embrace their quirkiness and vow to continue to use the label.

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Lithuania to reconsider anti-trans law

From Gay Star News UK:

By Joe Morgan
30 November 2012

Lithuania is about to reconsider an anti-trans law that will ban gender reassignment surgery.

After an identical draft amendment was submitted in 2011, and failed to be adopted, it is presumed this motion is seeking to test the new Parliament’s attitudes towards transgender issues.

Antanas Matulas, a right-wing Christian politician and on the committee for health affairs, has resubmitted a draft amendment to the Civil Code saying ‘society is not ready to accept’ transgender people.

At present, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in 2007, Lithuania is obliged to enact a law regulating the procedure and conditions of gender reassignment.

At present, the civil code provides that any unmarried person of full age is entitled to medical gender reassignment if medically feasible, but a law enforcing this, as suggested by the ECtHR, is missing.

To comply with the ruling above the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice suggested fully removing support for state sponsored gender reassignment surgery.

Matulas proposes that gender reassignment surgery should be banned outright in Lithuania, and those who for them to be performed abroad must get permission from the government.

In the explanatory notes, he says Lithuanian society continues to view ‘gender reassignment very controversially.’

Matulas adds: ‘Society is not ready to accept gender reassignment practices due to certain psychosocial reasons, and therefore the permission to undergo gender reassignment surgeries will lead to a number of medical and ethical issues.’

The 56-year-old believes it is impossible to reassign gender surgically because it is ‘determined genetically from the very moment of conception.’

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Mickey Baker, of Mickey and Sylvia, Is Dead at 87

Last year Sylvia Robinson of the group Mickey and Sylvia passed away.

On Friday I saw an obituary for Mickey Baker the male half of the 1950s soul group Mickey and Sylvia.  Along with the super cool duets of early rock and roll he played some really neat guitar.

From The New York Times:

Published: November 29, 2012

Mickey Baker, whose prickly, piercing guitar riffs were featured on dozens if not hundreds of recordings and helped propel the evolution of rhythm and blues into rock ’n’ roll, died on Tuesday at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, near Toulouse in southwestern France. He was 87.

The cause was heart and kidney failure, his wife, Marie, said.

Mr. Baker is probably best known for a single song, “Love Is Strange,” a sexy pop tune that he and Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson recorded in 1956 as Mickey & Sylvia. It sold more than a million copies and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues chart and No. 11 on the pop chart.

The recording was featured in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing,” and the rapper Pitbull sampled it — including Mr. Baker’s signature keening guitar riff, which is said to have influenced a young Jimi Hendrix — in the song “Back in Time,” featured in the 2012 film “Men in Black 3.”

He also had an important career away from the spotlight. In the 1950s, few studio musicians were more in demand than Mr. Baker, who took part in sessions for Atlantic, King, RCA, Savoy, Decca and other labels, often as many as four a day. And few guitarists were more influential.

His well-known recordings included “Money Honey” and “Such a Night” by the Drifters, Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” Ruth Brown’s “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and Big Maybelle’s “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Known for his aggressively bluesy chords and attention-grabbing solos, he is often cited by connoisseurs as a signature force, along with the likes of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, in the development of rock ’n’ roll and an antecedent of Hendrix, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and many others.

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Armageddon 2.0

From The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

By Fred Guterl
28 November 2012

Article Highlights

  • During the Cold War, the prospect of nuclear annihilation weighed heavily on the minds of Americans, Soviets, and people of other nations.
  • Although the threat of nuclear war seems more distant now, other threats have arisen from the very technologies responsible for human progress, such as computing and energy production.
  • There may be very little time left in which to head off pandemics, abrupt climate shifts, and computer attacks. Understanding these threats — and possible solutions — is critical.

The world lived for half a century with the constant specter of nuclear war and its potentially devastating consequences. The end of the Cold War took the potency out of this Armageddon scenario, yet the existential dangers have only multiplied.

Today the technologies that pose some of the biggest problems are not so much military as commercial. They come from biology, energy production, and the information sciences — and are the very technologies that have fueled our prodigious growth as a species. They are far more seductive than nuclear weapons, and more difficult to extricate ourselves from. The technologies we worry about today form the basis of our global civilization and are essential to our survival.

The mistake many of us make about the darker aspects of our high-tech civilization is in thinking that we have plenty of time to address them. We may, if we’re lucky. But it’s more likely that we have less time than we think. There may be a limited window of opportunity for preventing catastrophes such as pandemics, runaway climate change, and cyber attacks on national power grids.

Emerging diseases. The influenza pandemic of 2009 is a case in point. Because of rising prosperity and travel, the world has grown more conducive to a destructive flu virus in recent years, many public health officials believe. Most people probably remember 2009 as a time when health officials overreacted. But in truth, the 2009 virus came from nowhere, and by the time it reached the radar screens of health officials, it was already well on its way to spreading far and wide.

“H1N1 caught us all with our pants down,” says flu expert Robert G. Webster of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Before it became apparent that the virus was a mild one, health officials must have felt as if they were staring into the abyss. If the virus had been as deadly as, say, the 1918 flu virus or some more recent strains of bird flu, the result would have rivaled what the planners of the 1950s expected from a nuclear war. It would have been a “total disaster,” Webster says. “You wouldn’t get the gasoline for your car, you wouldn’t get the electricity for your power, you wouldn’t get the medicines you need. Society as we know it would fall apart.”

Climate change. Climate is another potentially urgent risk. It’s easy to think about greenhouse gases as a long-term problem, but the current rate of change in the Arctic has alarmed more and more scientists in recent years. Tim Lenton, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter in England, has looked at climate from the standpoint of tipping points — sudden changes that are not reflected in current climate models. We may already have reached a tipping point — a transition to a new state in which the Arctic is ice-free during the summer months.

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Meet the Climate Denial Machine

From Truth Out:

By Jill Fitzsimmons
Saturday, 01 December 2012

Despite the overwhelming consensus among climate experts that human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, 66 percent of Americans incorrectly believe there is “a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.” The conservative media has fueled this confusion by distorting scientific research, hyping faux-scandals, and giving voice to groups funded by industries that have a financial interest in blocking action on climate change. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have shied away from the “controversy” over climate change and have failed to press U.S. policymakers on how they will address this global threat. When climate change is discussed, mainstream outlets sometimes strive for a false balance that elevates marginal voices and enables them to sow doubt about the science even in the face of mounting evidence.

Here, Media Matters looks at how conservative media outlets give industry-funded “experts” a platform, creating a polarized misunderstanding of climate science.

Heartland Institute And James Taylor

The Economist has called the libertarian Heartland Institute “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.” Every year, Heartland hosts an “International Conference on Climate Change,” bringing together a small group of contrarians (mostly non-scientists) who deny that manmade climate change is a serious problem. To promote its most recent conference, Heartland launched a short-lived billboard campaign associating acceptance of climate science with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen” including Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Facing backlash from corporate donors and even some of its own staff, Heartland removed the billboard, but refused to apologize for the “experiment.”

Heartland does not disclose its donors, but internal documents obtained in February reveal that Heartland received $25,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation in 2011 and anticipated $200,000 in additional funding in 2012. Charles Koch is CEO and co-owner of Koch Industries, a corporation with major oil interests. Along with his brother David Koch, he has donated millions to groups that spread climate misinformation. Heartland also receives funding from some corporations with a financial interest in confusing the public on climate science. ExxonMobil contributed over $600,000 to Heartland between 1998 and 2006, but has since pledged to stop funding groups that cast doubt on climate change.

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GOP’s new House Science farce

From Salon:

Rep. Lamar Smith, the likely chair, once decried news networks “slanted in favor of global warming alarmists”

Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, will likely be the new Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, despite his rather skeptical take on the science behind man-made climate change.

From the Huffington Post:

On Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the Republican Steering Committee had recommended Smith as the new chairman. The full House GOP caucus will vote on all chairmanships Wednesday and is expected to ratify the steering panel’s choices.

Smith once accused ABC, NBC and CBS of coverage that was “largely slanted in favor of global warming alarmists.”

“The networks have shown a steady pattern of bias on climate change,” Smith wrote in a statement in 2009. “During a six-month period, four out of five network news reports failed to acknowledge any dissenting opinions about global warming, according to a Business and Media Institute study.”

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