America’s First Public Transsexual

Originally appeared in The Daily.

A carpenter’s son, George Jorgensen was raised to be a good Lutheran kid, hardworking and decent, like the generations of skinny Danish farmers from whom he was descended. During his teenage years in the Bronx, when he realized he was falling in love with a male classmate, he knew instinctively that his feelings were not homosexual, but rather the love of a girl for a boy. So in 1952, at the age of 25, the God-fearing young man went to Copenhagen and had his genitals surgically removed so he could become the girl he thought nature intended him to be. George’s new self, known to the world as Christine Jorgensen, debuted on December 1, 1952, on the front page of the New York Daily News.  Hearst newspapers paid Jorgensen $20,000 for an exclusive interview; the banner headline read “EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BEAUTY.”