Christina Jorgensen was not the first American to have a sex change as is often claimed, but she was the first transgender person to announce her gender reassignment publicly- and to fight to make the transgender phenomenon better understood. Jorgenson was born in 1926 as George William Jorgensen, the second son of a Bronx carpenter. George was a shy, frail, blond, little boy who avoided rough games and fights. Jorgenson explained in later interviews that her childhood was happy. However, the onset of puberty led to the feeling she was a woman in a man’s body.
After graduating from high school in 1945, Jorgensen joined the US army and became a clerk. After her honorable discharge, having heard about European pioneers of gender reassignment surgery, she decided to make the transition from male to female. In 1950, aged 24, Jorgenson began taking estrogen under the supervision of Dr. Christian Hamburg. She chose her new Christian name in his honor. Then, in 1951, she obtained permission to start reassignment procedures in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The surgery transformed Jorgenson physically and mentally. She sent pictures of her new self back home to America with notes saying: “Remember the shy, miserable person who left America? Well, that person is no more and, as you can see, I’m in marvelous spirits.” When she returned home in 1955, her new outgoing self, coped well with the publicity certain tabloids stirred, up with, sensationalist headlines such as: “Ex-Gi Becomes Blond Beauty” and ‘Dear Mum and Dad, Son Wrote, I Have Now Become Your Daughter.”
After completing her surgery in the states, Jorgensen launched herself as an advocate for transgender people, speaking on radio and TV as well as on university campuses in the 1970s and 80s. The shy little blond boy was indeed gone. Jorgenson also became an actress and nightclub entertainer, often singing the song “I enjoy being a Girl” and inventing her own character “Superwoman” when Warner Communications demanded she cease dressing in a Wonder Woman costume in her nightclub act. She died in 1989 of bladder and lung cancer, having, as she put it given the sexual revolution “a good swift kick in the pants.”