It has been some 40 years since I read Christine Jorgensen’s carefully redacted ghost written “autobiography that came out about the same time I came out.
A year or so latter I saw that horribly done film version of her life story starring some no name boy who looked like the foot ball player in drag that he was.
I met Christine at the San Francisco premiere of the film. I was young and terribly sexy wearing one of my sleazy dresses from a Telegraph Avenue boutique that I loved, she reminded me of one of my chain smoking never married aunts who lived in LA and went to Las Vegas for her kicks.
But Christine’s story had never been the transsexual life story that captured my imagination. I was too young or perhaps too scared of my own problems with being a transkid to express any interest in it when she was a news item. Possibly I was too sheltered by my environment.
The transsexual stories that did get my attention started filtering into my active awareness about 1960 or so and centered around the stars of Le Carousel in Paris. Coccinelle, Capucine, Bambi and April Ashley were the sisters I found ready identification with. Coccinelle was as they said of buxom sexy women in those days, “a Bombshell”, a transsexual Bridget Bardot or Jayne Mansfield.
April Ashley’s story hit the tabloids the summer of 1962 and gave me a name for what had been euphemistically referred to by my parents as “my problem”. My problem being that I was an obvious transkid blossoming into a teen queen. One who got busted regularly for dressing in mommy’s clothes and for showing signs of wanting to be noticed by the sort of boys who would take me riding in their cars.
As a historian I have actually worked on recollecting books I once had and either sold or lent and never saw again.
Over the last year this blog has attacked the all too frequent claims of often contradictory and generally sketchy forms of intersex on the part of people who are garden variety women born with transsexualism.
Everyone of them seems to think they are original in making these claims. Yet nearly 60 years ago Roberta Cowell was making similar claims of spontaneous changing of secondary sex characteristic and trashing Christine Jorgensen as a homosexual transvestite because Christine’s body didn’t respond as well to her hormone regime. At the same time according to the biography written by Richard Docter, Christine was also making unsubstantiated claims to being physically intersex.
Both were making these claims at a time prior to Dr. Georges Burou development of the pioneering surgical techniques that gave those who graduated from Le Carousel their vaginas.
But more importantly these two were the pioneers of what has now become the infamous, “I’m real and you are not” trash talking among women born with transsexualism who had similar if not identical sex change operations.
And this claim is documented not speculative thanks to biographies and ghost written “autobiographies”.