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    Jorgensen, Christine

    Christine Jorgensen was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female. Jorgensen heard about sex reassignment surgery, and began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own. She researched the subject with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, a husband of one of Jorgensen’s classmates at the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School. Jorgensen intended to go to Sweden, where at the time the only doctors in the world performing this surgery were located. During a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, however, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen stayed in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger’s direction, was allowed to begin hormone replacement therapy, eventually undergoing a series of operations. When Jorgensen returned to New York in February 1953, she became an instant celebrity. There has been speculation that Jorgensen leaked her story to the press. The publicity created a platform for Jorgensen, who used her publicity for more than fame. New York radio host Barry Gray asked her if 1950s jokes such as “Christine Jorgensen went abroad, and came back a broad” bothered her; she laughed and said that they did not bother her at all.

     
     
     

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