Christine Jorgensen

Christine_Jorgensen.jpgChristine Jorgensen was an American trans woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery.

Jorgensen was born on May 30, 1926 and grew up in the Bronx area graduating high school in 1945 and shortly afterwards was drafted into the US Army for World War II. After her service she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about transitioning surgery. She travelled to Europe, and in Copenhagen, Denmark obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951. She returned to the United States in the early 1950s and her sex change was the subject of a New York Daily News front page story. She became an instant celebrity using the platform to advocate for transgender people, known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, and recorded several songs. After her vaginoplasty, Jorgensen planned to marry John Traub, a labor union statistician, but the engagement was called off. In 1959, she announced her engagement to Howard J. Knox, a typist, in Massapequa, New York, where her father had built her a house after her reassignment surgery. However, the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license because Jorgensen's birth certificate listed her as a male. In a report about the broken engagement, The New York Times noted that Knox had lost his job in Washington, D.C., when his engagement to Jorgensen became known.=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. Jorgensen said in 1989, the year of her death, that she had given the sexual revolution "a good swift kick in the pants". She died of bladder and lung cancer four weeks short of her 63rd birthday.

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have contributed significantly in several ways to the advancement of our community. Limited by the number of days on the calendar, showcasing every individual who has made a major impact would be difficult. Yet, across decades and eras, revolutions and wars, and discovery and enlightenment, SPART*A honors past and present LGBT figures in our history this month.


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