Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →
Raised in the Bronx as a boy, Jorgensen served in the army during World War II and was honorably discharged. After discovering that medical procedures to change one’s sex were available in Europe, Jorgensen traveled to Denmark in the early 1950s and began receiving hormonal treatments and then surgery. The press in New York discovered this, and headlines such as “Ex GI Becomes Blonde Beauty” sensationalized her experience. Jorgensen was the first person in the US to go public with her gender reassignment surgery; newspapers, television, and radio covered the story. She wrote an autobiography, Christine Jorgensen (1967), and also began a career as a nightclub performer. Jorgensen’s visibility as a “transsexual,” the most commonly used word in the 1960s and 1970s, helped clear a path for a broader transgender movement to develop in the 1970s and 1980s. She never regretted her surgery. As she wrote to her parents, “Nature made a mistake, which I have had corrected.” She died in 1989.