Christine Jorgensen Narrative Analysis

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Considered to be one of the most important and prominent figures in trans history, Christine Jorgensen was a pioneer in her own right. Jorgensen first garnered major attention when she became the first American to bring attention to gender reassignment surgery in 1952, after travelling to Denmark for the procedure. Going on to become an actress and a writer, Jorgensen’s story was what brought trans issues to the forefront of America’s mind, and opened up a national conversation, framing many aspects of how future generations would come to think of the transgender community. Christine Jorgensen was born George Jorgensen Jr. in 1926, the child of a carpenter and his wife. After finishing high school, Jorgensen went on to get drafted into the…show more content…
As a result of being shaped by a heteropatriarchal society, it is assumed that medical transition will make a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity “line up”; if, for example, a trans woman is a lesbian, she will be questioned about why she felt the need to transition, as if there has to be a direct relationship between the two, or as if what’s more accepted societally trumps personal feelings. Today, much like Jorgensen’s transition was seen as a practical solution to a problem that demands a solution, we see the Iranian government’s attempt at solving the problem. A 1979 fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini, sanctioning sex-change operations, has led to Iran having the highest rates of gender reassignment surgeries, second only to Thailand. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran; however, the government covers “up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance” when it comes to surgery, and recognizes the change on birth certificates, as documented in a 2008 BBC article, “Iran’s ‘diagnosed transsexuals’” by Vanessa Barford. Just as Jorgensen went from being an “ex-GI” to being a “blonde bombshell”, positioned on opposite ends of a spectrum, those who want to love who they choose in Iran must go through psychological evaluations, hormone therapy, and surgeries that they often don’t…show more content…
Jorgensen’s embodiment of white womanhood made her more accessible to the public, and made it clear why it was her, specifically, that became the icon that she is. An article entitled “Constructing the ‘Good Transsexual’: Christine Jorgensen, Whiteness, and Heteronormativity in the Mid-Twentieth-Century Press”, by Emily Skidmore, examines how Jorgensen’s image was built up, and how it contrasts with the images given to trans people of color of the same time period, looking at Jorgensen’s experience from an intersectional perspective. The very language involved in the New York Daily News article that first exposed the country to Jorgensen already set up how she would be treated as a woman from then on. Skidmore talks about how characterizing Jorgensen as a "’blond beauty’" simultaneously aligned Jorgensen's body with an idealized femininity and asserted her desirability as a woman to an assumed male viewer” (273). Another article said Jorgensen is “not only female; she's a darn good looking female” (275), again placing her degree of passing at the top of the list. Jorgensen’s likability was so dependent on how attractive she could be, and how well she could shrug off any hint of queerness to fully embrace the role doled out to
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