STYLE ICON: Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen was the first person widely known to have undergone sex reassignment surgery in the United States. George William Jorgensen Jr. was born and raised in a crime ridden Bronx neighbourhood. Shortly after graduating high school, she was drafted into the US army for WWII. After her discharge, Jorgensen attended several schools – specializing in Photography and later training as a Dental Assistant.
While bouncing between schools and jobs, Jorgensen learned of sex reassignment surgery. She began taking female hormones, and further researching the surgery with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, the husband of a classmate at the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School. After a few years of research, Jorgensen planned trip to Sweden, where the only doctors who performed this particular operation were located. However, during a stop over to visit family in Denmark, Jorgensen met Dr. Christian Hamburger, an Endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen decided to stay in Copenhagen and engage in hormone replacement therapy under Dr. Hamburger’s direction. After receiving permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo a series of operations in that country. In 1951, an orchiectomy was performed on Jorgensen, 13 months after this first procedure, Jorgensen underwent a penectomy, and later received vaginoplasty when the procedure became available in United States.
Jorgensen was a major proponent for the advancement of transsexual rights, finally introducing the concept of ‘psychological sex’, and the possibility of discordance between biology and gender. She was the first person who encouraged transsexual people to change their birth certificates and live their true identity in every way.