Caitlyn Jenner, meet Christine Jorgensen: What she can learn from a previous pathbreaking transgender celebrity

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tags: LGBT, Caitlyn Jenner



Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education.”


A tough-guy hero announces that he has become a woman. Media outlets run glamorous pictures of her, while thousands of admirers send in congratulations. Reporters query her family members, who express support. The nation is transfixed by the transgendered celebrity in its midst.

Caitlyn Jenner, this spring? No, Christine Jorgensen, in 1952.

That’s when the Daily News reported that a former soldier named George Jorgensen had become Christine, after traveling to Denmark for surgery. Her tale briefly became the year’s top story, crowding out the Korean War and the polio vaccine.

But Americans rejected Jorgensen soon after, when it was reported that she wasn’t a “real” woman after all. So Jenner shouldn’t get too used to her legion of admirers. They can turn at the drop of a hairpin.

Just ask Jorgensen. The Daily News broke her story on Dec. 1, 1952 with a gigantic front-page headline, “EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BEAUTY.” Beneath it was a grainy phonograph of an attractive young woman. “George Jorgensen, Jr., son of a Bronx carpenter, served in the Army for two years,” the caption read. “Now George is no more.” ...




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