Christine Jorgenson was one of the first people to become widely known in the USA for having transitioned from male to female.
She grew up in the Bronx, New York, was drafted in to the army in 1945. After returning from the army, she heard about the ability to change sex, and began taking female hormones on her own, without a prescription.
Jorgenson intended to go to Sweden to have surgery, but during a stopover in Denmark met a Danish endocrinologist, Dr Christian Hamburger, who prescribed her hormone replacement therapy. She had her penis and testicles removed in Denmark, having a vaginoplasty in the US a few years later.
In 1952, her story was broken to the press in the US, claiming she was the first patient to have a ‘sex change’. On her return to the US in 1953, she was instantly famous, and made a number of media appearances to discuss her transition.
She had planned to marry after her vaginoplasty, but she was unable to due to her birth certificate still listing her as male. Her fiancé had lost his job when he engagement to Jorgenson became known.
She spent the 70s and 80s touring University campuses speaking about her experiences, as well as working as an entertainer and actress.
Christine Jorgenson died of bladder and lung cancer in 1988, just short of her 63rd birthday.
Check out more trans history on Gendered Intelligence’s ‘Trans History’ tag.
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