Christine Jorgensen Visits the IU Campus

From OutHistory
Jump to navigationJump to search

Christine Jorgensen Visits the IU Campus

Bloomington’s reputation as a progressive enclave in a conservative state drew many famous visitors to speak on the IU campus. Once the sexual revolution got underway, many of those visitors were connected with the gay and lesbian liberation movement, or with other aspects of the struggle for freedom to express one’s sense of self. One such visitor in the early 1970s was Christine Jorgensen.

Who Was Christine Jorgensen?

Christine Jorgensen, was the world’s first globally famous transsexual in 1952. She had been born in the Bronx in 1926 and was originally named George. Jorgensen was drafted into the Army at the end of WWII, and used her GI Bill benefits to study at the Progressive School of Photography in Connecticut. While there she read about an endocrinologist experimenting with hormones, and decided to visit him, which marked the beginning of her transformation from man to woman. Jorgensen learned that hormonal and surgical treatments were available Denmark that were not available in the United State. In May 1950 she left for Europe as an unknown young man, only to return nearly three years later as one of the most famous women of her time. Unable to find a regular job because of her sudden fame and the stigma that surrounded her transsexuality, Jorgensen developed a lucrative night club career that kept her busy for the next decade. In 1967, she wrote a well-received autobiography that was made in a trashy exploitation film in 1970.

Two Visits to Bloomington

Jorgensen had first visited Bloomington at the invitation of Alfred Kinsey, at the height of her fame in 1953. Kinsey interviewed her with the intention of including her data in his volume on female sexuality. Jorgensen returned on Monday, March 27th, 1973 as part of the Emphasis Lecture Series. Over one thousand students overflowed Alumni Hall to see Jorgensen and to hear her present her life story. Jorgensen told the crowd at IU that after the surgery, “I am as complete a person, both emotionally and psychologically as I had ever dreamed of being.”


Jorgensen, Christine. A Personal Autobiography. San Francisco, California: Motion Picture and Television Fund, 2000.

Olenyik, Barb. “Sex Surgery Brought Jorgensen Publicity,” Indiana Daily Student, March 27, 1973, page 14.

Ross, John, “Christine Jorgensen Tells Her Story at IU,” The Courier Tribune, March 27, 1973, A4.

Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. Berkeley, California: Seal Press, 2008.

<comments />