- Paperback: 340 pages
- Publisher: Cleis Press; 1st edition (October 12, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573441007
- ISBN-13: 978-1573441001
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography Paperback – October 12, 2000
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This handsome reprint of Jorgensen's 1967 memoir makes it abundantly clear how moments of grace can descend on even the most ordinary of lives. When ex-G.I. George Jorgensen went to Copenhagen in the early 1950s to consult experts in sexual deviance, he was afraid they'd simply proclaim him a fairy. A full battery of hormonal and psychological tests revealed that, while he was drawn to men, he was no garden-variety homophile; he was a lady. Keeping the secret from his family, Jorgensen endured a groundbreaking series of operations, finally emerging in November 1952 as a delicately beautiful young woman. "I merely wanted to correct what I considered a misjudgment of Nature," wrote Jorgensen, who died in 1989. No one seeing the photographs included here (many of them new to this edition) can doubt the success of Jorgensen's transformation or wonder too long at the fascination she engendered back home, where a newspaper bought her story for $20,000 and she was proclaimed New York City's Woman of the Year. A stage and screen career soon followed. As Susan Stryker points out in a new introduction, Jorgensen offers a somewhat flattering and selectively abridged account of herself in the autobiography, but no more so than any plucky girl smiling her way through what must have been, at times, a harrowing and lonely journey, but one that she conducted with remarkable dignity. --Regina Marler
From Library Journal
Jorgensen made international headlines in the early 1950s as the first person to go public about having a sex-change operation. Following the revelation, s/he became the poster child for transsexualism. Her 1967 autobiography is a straightforward account of growing up as a boy with much inner conflict. It goes on to cover the decision to have the surgery, the procedure itself, and her successful career as a Las Vegas entertainer. This contains a new introduction by gay historian Susan Stryker. (LJ 9/1/67)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Starting her life out as George Jorgensen, she never quite felt that she fit in and became a loner by inclination. One striking issue in the book, however, is that she came from an extremely loving and supportive family who always unconditionally accepted her as she was, both before and after her metamorphosis. Not every transgendered individual is as lucky as Ms. Jorgensen appears to have been with respect to familial relationships. Perhaps it was because her parents were of Danish descent, and Scandinavian people tend to be more accepting of these issues.
Relentlessly upbeat, the book is a flattering and politely idealized memoir, as if anything too dark were exorcised from its pages. The chapters which cover Ms. Jorgensen's time in Denmark, where her change took place, are somewhat superficial and non-clinical. There is no real indication of any personal struggle or self-doubt with respect to her decision to undergo a life changing transformation. One has to remember, however, that this book was originally published approximately thirty five years ago, when the public's sensibilities on such issues were far more delicate.
What does come across in this autobiography is that Ms. Jorgensen had the courage to make a decision that for the time was somewhat unique and cutting edge, as there was virtually no literature available for the general public on transsexualism, and gender identity studies were still in their nascent stage. Ms. Jorgensen essentially paved the way for others by bringing to the public consciousness issues that had not before been the subject of public discussion. In bringing these issues into the public domain, she was subject to a torrent of abuse, as well as discriminatory practices, and seemed to be the endless butt of jokes. She took these problems in stride, however, and always managed to have the last laugh. Laughter, indeed, appears to have been the best medicine.
Ms. Jorgensen, an attractive natural blonde, who personified the stereotypic feminine ideal of the time, became an entertainer. Given her notoriety, her career options were limited, as she gathered a crowd whenever her identity became known. Playing the hand that was dealt her, she parlayed her notoriety into a successful club act, digressing into acting. She managed to make a success of herself, living a life that was interesting, but hardly scandalous. While this is an intriguing memoir, it is not an in depth profile of Ms. Jorgensen. The reader comes away knowing about Ms. Jorgensen, rather than knowing her. Still, all in all, it is a worthwhile read.
She was a brave person and a kind, gentle woman.
This book is Christine's autobiography of her transition from George Jorgensen to Christine. She shares her experiences of life from a very young age as well as feelings and how others perceived her prior to her decision to get a sex change. Often credited as the first person to undergo a sex change, Christine herself writes of how she had tried to go to Sweden, where previous operations had been done, and stopping in Denmark, where she had relatives and happened to find a supportive doctor who could perform the procedure for her there.
Over the course of the book, I found myself laughing at times, crying a times, and often crying tears of sorrow for not having read this book 40 years ago when I was struggling with my on transsexual nature, trying to accept a body I hated. There were so many things about her story that I had been told, by health care professionals, that were wrong. I had been tricked into making a misinformed decision.
What distinguishes Christine Joorgensen is not that she was the first, but she was the first to have her story made public, and in a really big way. It was an accident, information leaked to a relative then to a friend who leaked it to the press. Christine had been hoping for a relatively private life, but when thrust into the spotlight an exclusive deal with a publisher to tell her story gave her time to adjust to the limelight and eventually gave her the chance to laugh at the jokes made about her, and even tell them herself. She even started putting on shows and played Vegas.
Reading up on information published after the book was published, it seems that she lived a long and happy life, being almost married once (the State decided the marriage wasn't legal because she was born a man), and married for real. She discusses some of the legal and social barriers she encountered as well.
This is very different from the movie, which was written from the perspective a close friend who became her almost first husband, and is a tear jerker in it's own right. I strongly recommend this to anyone who has any desire to understand the transgender experience.