Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell

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”.

A Modest Proposal: The Future Role of Private Health Insurance

Over the past few days several articles have appeared that have simply given me pause to ponder moments.
One WTF moment was caused the following Headline from Raw Story

Democrats’ healthcare bill would pay for ‘prayer’ treatment

http://rawstory.com/2009/11/democrats-healthcare-bill-pay-prayer-treatment/
What the fuck?
Yet on Tuesday 11/03/09
By John Byrne reported

What do Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have in common?

A soft spot for Christian Scientists.

The three senators have quietly inserted a provision into the Democrats’ healthcare overhaul that would allow the Christian Science church to receive remuneration from the federal government for prayer treatments as medical expenses.

Why are liberal Democrats teaming up with a conservative senator for a provision that would normally be the bane of the Senate’s liberal elite? Because the headquarters of the Christian Science church is in Boston.

“The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine,” the Los Angeles Times’ Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger, who found the measure, write. “While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against ‘religious and spiritual healthcare.'”

See the full story at the above link.

The news this week has been full of these What the Fuck stories of government kowtowing to the Christo-Fascists and helping them to install the Christer version of Sharia.

The same day the Washington Post ran the following:

Democrats’ concerns over abortion may imperil health bill

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/02/AR2009110203232.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Bloc could withhold support over fears of a governmental role

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

While House leaders are moving toward a vote on health-care legislation by the end of the week, enough Democrats are threatening to oppose the measure over the issue of abortion to create a question about its passage.

House leaders were still negotiating Monday with the bloc of Democrats concerned about abortion provisions in the legislation, saying that they could lead to public funding of the procedure. After an evening meeting of top House Democrats, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) said, “We are making progress,” but added that they had not reached an agreement.

The outcome of those talks could be crucial in deciding the fate of the health-care bill. Democrats need the vast majority of their caucus to back the bill, since nearly all congressional Republicans have said they will oppose the legislation.

“I will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for abortion is allowed,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday in a statement. He said last week that 40 Democrats could vote with him to oppose the legislation — enough to derail the bill.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, cast Stupak as “attempting to ban abortion coverage in the private insurance market.”

We already have Health insurance companies that will pay for dead dick pills for men whose gluttonous consumption of greasy fast food and obesity has led them to take medications that all have impotence as a side effect.  These same “Health Insurance” companies routinely refuse to fund not only abortion but birth control for women.

Any bets on their willingness to fund sex reassignment surgery?

I have an answer on that one courtesy of Brenda Lana Smith’s news mailing list.

US – Social conservatives are working to ensure that federal funding for sex change operations will be banned in the health reform bill.…

[2009-11-04 Politico]

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29164.html

Conservatives shop sex ops ban to GOP

By JONATHAN ALLEN

11/04/09 9:00 PM EST

The federal government would be banned from funding sex change operations and other services for transgender individuals if social conservative activists get their way.

There’s no sponsor yet for an amendment to the health care overhaul – and it may remain in the dustbin of unrealized wedge issues – but culture warriors are shopping the proposal to Republican senators.

The language is written: “None of the funds authorized or appropriated under this act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be used to cover any part or portion of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of” any sex or gender reassignment procedure,  surgery related to such a sex change, hormone therapy for a sex change or pre- and post-operation treatments for a sex change.

A senior aide to a Republican senator said that a public insurance plan could easily end up covering sex-change procedures if that’s not specifically banned in the bill.

Follow the link above for the full article.
The misogynistic, homophobic neo-Nazi bigots of the Republican Party and their lynch mobs of bigoted thugs want the enforcement of Christo-fascist Sharia through the government in a manner that is the complete opposite of the intent of the framers of our Constitution.

Remember Jefferson posited a wall of separation between Church and State.  The Nazi like Republicans want the state to not only endorse their superstition based bigotry but to institute Christian Sharia in the process.

They embrace Confederate family values to the point where they ignore the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

I have come to see their “conservative” movement as growing out of the same ideological well spring as the KKK, the John Birch Society and Father Charles Edward Coughlin.  Nazis or Nazi sympathizers one and all.

They hated Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and later the “Fair Deal”, the War on Poverty even though it helped thousands rise above a life of poverty and despair.  They have warred against unions to the point where unions no longer protect the vast majority of workers who have seen their lives reduced to virtual slavery, subjected to the indignity of involuntary searches in the form of drug tests.

Employer provided health insurance is a luxury enjoyed by the rapidly dwindling middle class while many of us are on the stay healthy or die program beloved by both the rich elite scum who run the health insurance corporations and the Republicans alike.

But you can always trust the Nazi like impulses of the Republicans to attack women’s right to control their own bodies and now to attack the new sacrificial lambs, transsexual and transgender people.

And you can always trust the cowardly Democrats to cave to this as they cower in fear of being called socialists or communists.

So we see Democrats offering to include “Prayer Care”

I promised a modest proposal. Here it is.

Get the private health insurance companies out of the business by instituting National Health Insurance funded by taxes paid by everyone.  So what if the rightwing Christian Republicans object that they do not to fund this plan.  There have been a whole lot of imperialistic wars and worthless war toys I would have rather not helped pay for but I did because that is the price of citizenship.

Let the Republicans and Christians who hate National Health insurance opt out and buy private insurance that we could call, “Christian Care”.  Christian Care could cover make your dick hard pills and treatment with the money saved from not providing health and reproductive care for women.  They would of course cover all costs of quiver full artificially induced multiple births with the money they save from treating older women.  Since the only function many of these ultra right wing Christians see women as having is the pleasing of men and bearing of children they could save a bundle of money by cutting off care for women past the age of menopause unless their husbands buy supplemental “Christian Care” packages.

Since everything is in “god’s hands” in the first and last place (alpha and omega babble) Christian Care could use prayer teams instead of expensive surgery and trained specialists.

There was a reason why the right wingers of the 19th century formed the Know Nothing Party.

Stonewall 1949-1969: The Back Story

Stonewall is one of those great events.  Up until Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States: 1492 until Present, we thought of history in terms of great leaders and special pivotal events.

But history is far more complicated than that.  Pivotal events do not just spring from a vacuum but are more the result of the convergence of a number of elements all building towards that moment.

The riot that happened 40 years ago this weekend had some 20 years of people organizing, agitating, building movements and shifting consciousness. When Stonewall happened it marked the end of one era and the birth of another instead of simply vanishing into an incident forgotten by all except perhaps the participants the way so many acts of resistance from that era are forgotten.

The modern Gay and Lesbian movement started in the late 1940s after World War II had called so many to serve.  And gay men as well as women served.  Transsexuals too, Christine Jorgensen was in the military.

When they returned home many stayed in the big cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York.  They stayed because they had learned during their time in the military that they were gay and lesbian and these cities offered contact with others like themselves.

In 1949, Harry Hay, Dale Jennings, Rudi Gernreich Chuck Rowland, Paul Bernard and other gay men founded the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles.[1]

They came together to struggle for gay right even though they didn’t start using that term until years later. They used the term “homophile” because censorship prevented even the use of the term homosexual  for purposes of placing classified ads in order to announce meetings. This also permitted the mailing of their newsletters and publications at a time when postal authorities censored mail for even using the term “homosexual”, much less discussing it.

In San Francisco several years later Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon organized Daughters of Bilitis, the first modern lesbian organization.[2]

From these two groups as well as groups who broke off from these groups sprang the modern Gay and Lesbian movement.

At first, they had modest goals including simply being there to show others they were not alone.  In this regard, they published newsletters (magazines).  The Mattachine published One and Daughters of Bilitis published The Ladder.

The forces of censorship required a certain degree of subterfuge in the distribution of these newsletters and eventually led to the Mattachine society having to fight a legal case to win their right to send the newsletter through the US Mail.

About this time, Christine Jorgensen got her surgery in Denmark.  She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the only one changing sex in the early 1950s. [3]

In cities across the nation there was a lively and only semi under ground bar scene.  Sometimes in the gay and lesbian meccas of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco,[4] sometimes in unlikely locations such as Buffalo, NY.[5]

Fire Island was the gay vacation place and a summer party for gay men from the 1950s onward.[6]

Thanks to the efforts of Virginia Prince and another cross dresser known as Susanna there was the start of what evolved into the heterosexual organized cross dressing scene complete with resorts and conferences.[7]

There are a pair of films available on DVD that offer a glimpse of LGBT/T life both before and after Stonewall conveniently titled Before Stonewall and After Stonewall


[1] Timmons, Stuart; The Trouble with Harry Hay Alyson Pub Boston 1990

[2] Gallo, Marcia; Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement Seal Press 2007

[3] Meyerowitz, Joanne; How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States Harvard University Press 2004

[4] Stryker, Susan; Van Buskirk, Jim  and Maupin, Armistead; Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area Chronicle Books 1996

[5] Kennedy, Elizabeth;  Davis, Madeline;  Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community Routledge 1993

[6] Newton, Esther;  Cherry Grove: Fire Island Beacon 1993

[7] Raynor, Darrell; A year among the girls Lancer Books 1968?