Women and Adversity: Christine Jorgensen

First openly transgender American

With Nov. 12-19 designated as Transgender Awareness Week, it’s appropriate to highlight Christine Jorgensen, the first American transgender to announce her change openly.

Christine was born George Jorgensen, Jr. May 30, 1926 in the Bronx, NY. She felt at an early age that she was in the wrong body. Boys’ clothes did not appeal to her, and she wished she could wear the pretty dresses like her sister did.

Jorgensen’s father was an amateur photography, and as a teen, she became interested in the hobby, so the two had a darkroom at their home. She was interested enough to take classes at the New York Institute of Photography.

The military intervened, however, and she was drafted into the Army in 1945 and was assigned as a clerk at Fort Dix, NJ. At this time Jorgensen saw an article about Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish physician experimenting with hormones for gender therapy. Jorgensen was intrigued, and after being discharged, she considered changing her sex. At the time, gender transformation therapy was only available in Europe.

It wasn’t until 1950 that Jorgensen traveled to Denmark, ostensibly to visit relatives since both her parents were from Denmark. She contacted Dr. Hamburger, who diagnosed her as transsexual.

Jorgensen began the year-long series of hormone therapy. An increase in her mammary glands and increase in hair growth on her scalp were the first signs of change. A series of operations to change genital organs from male to female followed.

She returned to the U.S. in the early to middle 50s as a very attractive blond, and never hid her transformation. Her parents were supportive of her change. She made a living giving speeches and as a nightclub entertainer with her theme song being “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”

Jorgensen was denied a marriage license in 1959 because her birth certificate said “male.” She never married.

She moved to California in the 1970s and remained there until her death from bladder and lung cancer on May 3, 1989.

More information:



Christine Jorgensen; personal autobiography (1967)

Transgender History, second edition: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker (2017)

Jorgensen: The Power of Transgender Visibility (Transgender Empowerment Book 4) by Leigh Goodwin (2018)




Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and goodreads.com to learn more.

    Write a Reply or Comment About This Article

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Time limit exceeded. Please complete the captcha once again.


    Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 217 other subscribers

    Discover more from Jo Ann Mathews

    Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

    Continue reading