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Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926– May 3, 1989) is famous for being one of the first people to have sex reassignment surgery — in this case, male to female.

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 Blond Beauty”) announcing that in Denmark Jorgensen became the recipient of the first successful sex reassignment surgery. Though she was not, by far, the first (genital reassignment surgery has been performed since 1930), she became a willing spokesperson for transsexual and transgender people. She chose the name Christine in honor of Doctor Christian Hamburger, the Danish surgeon who performed her operation and who supervised her hormone therapy: “Christine” being the female version of his forename.

She is referred to in the 1994 movie Ed Wood as the film-maker works on Glen or Glenda. Christine is also the subject of a 1970s film The Christine Jorgensen Story.

Christine 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. On the other hand, when 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.

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 Locked You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad. In her nightclub act, she sang “I Enjoy Being a Girl” while dressed as comic-book heroine Wonder Woman: the act was terminated when the publishers who owned the copyright on the Wonder Woman character took legal action.

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.

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This page was adapted from Wikipedia by Jennifer Kirk.