Remembering transgender pioneer Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen at a press conference
Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

While almost completely unknown today, gender affirmation history can be divided into Before Christine Jorgensen and After Christine Jorgensen.

At 26, she – and the concept of identifying with a gender different than the one assigned at birth – exploded into public consciousness from newspaper articles in 1952. Further explosions followed in more papers, magazines, radio, TV, and movie theater newsreel coverage upon her return to the US in 1953 from Denmark where she had her initial surgery and spoke at the first-ever press conference for a transgender person.

Related: Did you know there is an outdoor museum of LGBTQ history?

She was not the first trans person to attract mainstream attention. The 1931 Danish biography of Lili Ilse Elvenes (aka Lili Elbe and the highly fictionalized The Danish Girl) was translated into several languages including English in 1933 as Man into woman: An authentic record of a change of sex / Lili Elbe.

However, a search of‘s archive of 14,000+ mostly American newspapers reveals only about 20 contemporary articles about the posthumous release of Elvenes’ biography versus over 8,000 about Jorgensen between 1952 and 1957 alone.

Granted, no real comparison can be made because of Elvenes’ death and the fact that there were far fewer forms of media triggering each other than in 1931.

But another way to measure Jorgensen’s impact is to compare it with that of Caitlyn Jenner since the latter’s public transition four years ago.

Yet, over 60 years ago, when television was still in its infancy without “24-hour news,” when there was no Internet and its social media attention addiction factories, someone the public had never heard of jumped into their consciousness faster and higher than Jenner did in 2015 despite already being an Olympic Gold track and field legend and TV “reality” show star.

Of course, Jorgensen wasn’t the first to undergo gender affirmation procedures which date, in some form, to at least those of Karl Meir Baer in Germany in 1906.

Berlin doctor Magnus Hirscheld (1868 – 1935), a legend in LGBTQ history who would later be involved with Elvenes’ surgery, arranged for Baer’s surgery and…

Read full story, and more, from Source: Remembering transgender pioneer Christine Jorgensen


About Gay Today

Editor of Gay Today