Category Archives: History

New Rare Photo of Christine Jorgensen Performing at the Silver Slipper, 1955

Christine Jorgensen and Friend
I’ve added a very rare photograph to the collection – I found this this one on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, in a photo gallery of scores of Las Vegas alumni. It was a very dramatic moment for me actually – I was going to a client reception hosted by my company as “out and proud” myself, when I exited the escalator and suddenly was face-to-face with this gorgeous photo print. I just stopped cold, and stared…and stared…I think it was nearly 5 minutes that I spent, just standing there looking into the past of my people. After the event, when I had had far too much to drink, apparently I spent some more time in front of the work, until hotel security asked me if I was alright, and helped me to a taxi.

The photo print is nearly 4 feet high, and has glorious detail, but sadly it is not very well-lit, and the photograph was spoiled by reflections from overhead lamps that I could not block out. I have a small version above, and a link to a much larger version right here.

There was a small silver plaque to the right of the photo, which said in full “December 9, 1955. Entertainer Christine Jorgensen performs on stage at the Silver Slipper.” And note this very important bit – they only refer to her as an “entertainer,” not “transgender woman” or anything else. I think that is really very incredible in a mundane, normal way.

More photos, media, and information about Jorgensen can be found on our Christine Jorgensen page.

New Historical Upload: Jorgensen, Johns Hopkins, and SRS in 1967

Christine Jorgensen Uncensored
I’m starting the processing of hundreds of archival transgender media, which I’m providing in high-resolution scans and with no watermarks. So let’s begin with this: in the April, 1967 edition of Uncensored magazine, we find an article which purports how Christine Jorgensen is doing in life as a woman, and reports on Johns Hopkins Hospital starting sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and establishing their Gender Identity Clinic. The article features several photographs from Christine Jorgensen’s past, but mainly focuses on the recent history of SRS (well, recent in 1967 anyhow), with some interesting facts and figures.

There is a quote from Jorgensen at the end of the article, referencing the Johns Hopkins programs, where she says: “I am glad I lived to see it happen. The biggest problem I have encountered since my operation is disbelief. Some people refer to me as ‘it.’ This is a smart-alec approach to a serious medical problem. I have received thousands of letters from people who don’t know where to turn. Now at least some of these poor souls have a place to go.”

You may read and download the entire article, scanned in high-resolution, either by going to the Transas City Christine Jorgensen page, or directly from this link here.

The First Transgender Exploitation Novel?

The_Lady_Was_a_Man_Cover

There were several transgender exploitation fictions which were published after Christine Jorgensen’s Atomic-Era story burst onto the scene. From 1953-1954 there were several short stories published in men’s magazines, and prior to Jorgensen’s coming out there were numerous stories featuring cross-dressing and intersex characters. But this work is probably the beginning of a genre of transgender exploitative fiction. Originally published under the title “Sex Gantlet[sic] to Murder,” this seedy crime novel was first printed in January, 1955, and probably written in late 1954. In 1958 it was republished, with a different and more provocative cover, under the title “The Lady Was a Man.”

I have published a complete review of this work, and verified that as it contains the blatant themes of anti-transgender misogyny, transgender panic, and transgender sexual exploitation, it likely is the first instance of a transgender exploitation novel.

You may read the review of the work at this link.

Three New Archival Photographs of Christine Jorgensen I’ve Purchased

Jorgensen_Christine_Press_Packet_Obverse_sm

In honor of my transgender history lecture today at the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, I have posted three new archival photographs of the first “Atomic Age” American transgender woman, Christine Jorgensen. One of them, which is her original press packet photograph (seen above), is kind of cool. They can be found on my Christine Jorgensen page in high-resolution scans, but the low-res versions are shown here.

Christine Jorgensen, hotel interview, December 11, 1952.

Jorgensen_Christine_1952_12_11_Denmark_Obverse_sm

Christine Jorgensen photo (obscured by Raquel Welch) from her trip to Rome in 1954.

Jorgensen_Christine_and_Welch_Raquel

Transgender History Lecture This Sunday in Kansas City (April 24, 2016)

Graphic_BannerHello everyone,

I’d be pleased if you would join me for an audiovisual journey (meaning, I have slides and videos) through transgender history. Presented in honor of the affiliation between the Transas City Project and the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, the lecture will be just over an hour and will encompass topics from the earliest eras of humankind to the 2010’s. The lecturer will be myself, who if you don’t know me is the founder of the Transas City Project and a transgender historian, as well as the hostess of “Trans Talk” on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio.

This presentation will be held at the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 400 (take the elevator to the 4th floor, turn left, and then another left), KCMO (see the map below). The lecture will begin promptly at 3:00 pm, and accounting for questions and answers from the audience will end about 4:30 pm.

Refreshments will be provided. There is no cost to attend, although donations will be accepted for transgender persons in need in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Location: The Transgender Institute, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 400, KCMO.
Time:         3:00 – 4:30 pm, Sunday, April 24th.

OBITUARY: Transgender Actress Holly Woodlawn (1946 – 2015)

Holly_Woodlawn
My friend Eve Golden, an author, actress, and New York socialite who writes celebrity obituaries, has sent me information on the passing of transgender actress Holly Woodlawn, and I’ve added some bits from research I’ve done.

Holly Woodlawn died of cancer today (December 6) in Los Angeles. Born in Puerto Rico, Woodlawn hit New York in the 1960’s and soon fell in with the crowd of admirers and protégés surrounding artist Andy Warhol. She, Candy Darling, and Jackie Curtis were among the first openly transgender actresses in the New York stage and film world (and all of them were named in Lou Reed’s hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.” Woodlawn appeared in the films Trash and Women in Revolt, and in low-budget films such as Night Owl and Heaven Wants Out. She also had roles in the somewhat more well-known Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and several cameo appearances on the award-winning Amazon series Transparent. In 1982, Holly was hired by the producers of Tootsie to coach Dustin Hoffman in his role. In recent years, Woodlawn worked in West Hollywood as a cabaret artist.

In 1991 she published a memoir titled A Low Life in High Heels, and in an interview in 2014 was quoted as saying “Aging is the best thing that could have happened to me…I have calmed down a gazillion compared to what I was younger. It is nice seeing all the kids around and thinking, ‘Oh God, if only they knew what is ahead of them!’ I hope they’re prepared! At least with me, it was never dull or boring.”

Holly_Woodlawn2

Holly_Woodlawn3

A Kansas City Transgender Event – Free Screening of “The Danish Girl”

Danish_Girl_Flyer

As Caroline Gibbs, founder of the Transgender Institute announced on my Trans Talk program on KKFI last Saturday, Kansas City is honored to be presenting a screening of the Universal Pictures film The Danish Girl. The film is a semi-biographical drama of the groundbreaking journey of Einar Wegener, the husband of artist Gerda Wegener, to become one of the world’s first transgender women – Lili Elbe (I have only posted a very small amount of information about Lile Elbe on my site here).

Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) directs the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Einar/Lili and Gerda. Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Misérables) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Anna Karenina), star as Einar/Lili and Gerda, respectively.

What’s more, thanks to the sponsorship of the Transgender Institute, you can register online to receive free tickets for the screening! There are 200 seats available, and they are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register for the event by clicking the link below, and you need not create an account to use it, just proceed as “Guest.” Click here to get your free tickets, while they last!

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

Time: 7:00 P.M.

Location: The Glenwood Arts Theatre, 3707 W. 95th St., Overland Park, KS, 66206.

There will be a brief introduction before the film to provide some historical background, and yours truly has been invited to deliver an introduction – so I hope to see many of you there!

History: A new Christine Jorgensen 3-Fer on Transas City

Jorgensen_Christine_1960_08_17_post

I recently purchased a large number of original wire photos, books, magazines, and other memorabilia from transgender history, and I will be posting them as I process them. As always, I include a link to the high-resolution scans, because our history is too important to be a “squirrel” and hoard away these things, out of the fear that someone might copy the works. Go ahead and copy and download all you want – if you want to give me a shout-out for credit, cool, but otherwise just keep these images safe so our past, what little of it still remains, shall never be forgotten.

Now to the photos: being a celebrity upon her arrival into the United States, Jorgensen was able to meet many famous and semi-famous personages for the first few years after her transition. The photograph below is from March 22, 1953, and shows her hobnobbing with comedian Milton Berle. Berle at the time was the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater. If you click on the photograph below, you can download a high-resolution scan of this original photograph.

Christine Jorgensen and Milton Berle

This next photograph is a little bit of a mystery. It’s often reported as being from 1958, but the earliest time-stamp on the reverse of the photograph is “20 Jan 1954.” No description tells me the name of the gentleman standing behind her. You can click on the photo below to download a high-resolution scan.

Christine Jorgensen

This final photograph for this update is a wonderful photograph which I’ve never before seen on the web, so naturally I bid on it and bought it. It shows Christine Jorgensen on the beach in a white Chevrolet Impala convertible, having what looks to be a wonderful time. It’s dated August 17, 1960, and the writing on the rear of the photograph says: “Ex-GI Dazzles Male Audiences in Cabaret. CHRISTINE JORGENSEN TO BE A BRIDE. Evidence of success – Christine drives off to the beach.” Click on the photograph below to download a high-resolution version.

Christine Jorgensen

These and many more photographs and other Christine Jorgensen information can be found on the Transas City Christine Jorgensen site.

Una Nowling to Speak on “Trans 101” at Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ

Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ
Hello everyone,

I will be speaking about the basics of the transgender experience, along with giving a transgender history lesson, at 7:00 pm, August 19th, 2015. The venue will be the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, which is located at 205 W 65th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64113 (there is a map link below). Anyone who wishes to come and hear a little bit of “Trans 101” is welcome!

The electronic flyer put out by the Church reads as follows:

Trans 101 with Una Nowling
August 19th at 7 p.m.

Are you interested in learning more about the transgender community and how to be an ally to transgender individuals? If so, you are invited to an evening with Una Nowling on Wednesday, August 19th at 7 pm!

Una Nowling will share her own story and also speak about issues affecting the transgender community. Una is a transgender activist, researcher and historian who mentors local transgender folks, especially throughout the coming out process. She is the hostess of “Trans Talk” on KKFI. She also spends her time working on Transas City, a non-profit educational website and blog for the transgender community in Kansas City. This is an important educational opportunity for our church as we continue to evolve in our understanding and celebration of the LGBTQ community.

Please contact Bethany at bethany@cccucc.com for more details.

New York Times Runs Factual Article About Transgender Issues

Sylvia RiveraIt’s not just about Caitlyn Jenner.

The article and accompanying 11 minute video is an overview of the present day and a very brief history of transgender people since the Stonewall Era. What struck me most about it was the lack of hysteria and the (mostly) non-judgmental approach. Transgender women interviewed are not celebrities nor are they sexpot hyper-feminine stereotypes, nor are they “men in drag”.  They are much more ordinary, and in my opinion that’s what the public needs to see, that transgender people are human beings trying to live normal, ordinary lives.

The article and video covered some of the appalling violence transgender people experience, stories those of us reading this blog have heard before, but that get left out of the typical news story featuring people like Caitlyn Jenner or Chaz Bono. It mentions how transgender people were and continue to be the marginalized sub-group of the larger group of LGBT. The people in this article do not have happy Hollywood or Hallmark movie of the week endings that the mass media seems to be in love with, no, these are real lives with real suffering along with whatever good also occurs.

In other words, ordinary people trying to survive.

Link to article

Minor Update to a Charlotte McLeod Resource

McLeod_Charlotte

As some of you know, I purchase old media (photographs, magazines, prints, and books) relating to transgender history and post them here as full resolution scans, free of watermark, restriction, or charge. Recently it was pointed out to me that on page 2 of Charlotte McLeod’s autobiography, published in Mr. magazine’s 1956 Winter annual, one of the photographs had a piece of loose paper covering it (it was a piece of the magazine which fell off during scanning). And another reader asked if the autobiography could be uploaded in higher resolution.

To that end, I’ve rescanned the article in higher resolution, and fixed the damaged photograph. Those of you who have downloaded a copy to host elsewhere will need to download a new copy this page.

A Personal and a Website Update

Ashley_April_1970_03_03_post

Hello everyone. I know several folks believe that after all the hard work which I’ve done that Transas City is in the doldrums. It has been, but not due to activism fatigue.

Since I had my liposuction surgery in April of this year something has gone horribly wrong with my body. I have been suffering from pain and fatigue, chronically, which is only slowly going away. This last week and a half, as I was working overseas, I thought I would have a lot of spare time to catch up on updates and actually try to post some current and topical posts, most importantly about Caitlyn Jenner. However, it appears I developed pneumonia right as I came to England, and have been so severely impacted that I’ve even been to the hospital here. Let me tell you, it’s really scary to go to a hospital for any reason when you’re alone and 5,000 miles from home.

I could make some promises about what I plan on doing, now that I’m recovering, but instead I’ll just start doing rather than talking. I’m going to start at the oldest part of my backlog and work my way forward, along with some news updates.

The photograph at the lead of this post is a new archival photograph which we’ve purchased, showing famous British transwoman April Ashley receiving a kiss at the opening of her new Chelsea, London restaurant. This occurred shortly after Ashley lost her infamous divorce case, which helped set the stage for a high court ruling that transsexuals in the United Kingdom must be considered their birth gender with respect to marriage – something which was not changed until the Gender Recognition Act of 2004. The full-sized image, as well as other information about Ashley can be found at this link on Transas City.

Two New Historic Photographs, and Thoughts on Transgender Stereotypes

Rees_Tamara_with_Vacuum
I’ve recently purchased two more original archival photographs for Transas City’s research division, and you can see one of them as the lead image of this post. The photograph shows Tamara Rees, the third “Atomic Age” transsexual woman, in a stereotypical domestic setting (for more information and photographs about Rees, including a copy of her incredibly rare autobiography which we were able to obtain, please visit our Tamara Rees page). The other photograph follows, and shows Rees both before and after her gender transition.

Rees_Tamara_Before_After

Tamara Rees, from Army paratrooper to housewife.

At first blush the vacuuming photograph looks quite silly and pointless – why on earth, when she has gone through so much in her gender transition, did the press think it was newsworthy to portray her vacuuming her floor? To a 21st-century eye, this photograph smacks of silliness at best, and a rigid bowing to paternalistic stereotypes at worst. But because we study history, and do not go by first impressions only, we can tell some of the back-story behind the lead photograph.

Jorgensen_Andrea_DoriaChristine Jorgensen, in a typical “starlet” pose on the deck of the Andrea Doria.

When Christine Jorgensen entered the public eye on December 1, 1952 as the first of the Atomic Age transsexual women, she was heralded as a wonder by many reporters; a triumph of Western science. And when the blonde-haired and svelte Jorgensen landed in New York in February of the following year, she was greeted by a nova of flashbulbs and untold levels of publicity. Most of the publicity was positive, albeit there were some detractors and naysayers. Jorgensen continued to maintain this image of a starlet, impeccable in dress, poise, and manners; with that bright smile and great figure through almost all of her career.

McLeod_Charlotte_1954_05_12_MCharlotte McLeod with her father.

Charlotte McLeod was the second of the Atomic Age transsexual women, and she immediately discovered that being the “second” in something is not nearly as exciting as being the first. McLeod returned to the United States fully expecting the Jorgensen treatment, and instead ran into a crowd of reporters who were much more skeptical, with one of them even having an altercation with her which dumped her to the floor of a hotel. McLeod was pretty, but she was not the smiling, socially-conscious blonde beauty that Jorgensen was. McLeod was a quiet and reserved person, who shunned the press and did not react with grace and poise when confronted about her gender identity. At the same time, McLeod resented her second-place status bitterly, and has been quoted in several historical documents in our Transgender Newsbank stating just that.

So then Tamara Rees arrived on the scene, and the public was starting to wonder: OK, Jorgensen was an interesting case, but now…where is science leading us? Boys becoming girls; where does it end? Instead of gender transition being a once-in-a-billion thing, it now is showing up regularly in the news. Every dad and mom in America had to start wondering, as they looked at their little boy playing with the gender-typical trains, guns, and baseballs – is he going to be wearing a dress some day? It’s at this time in history that the backlash against transsexual women begins to foment.

Rees_Tamara_1954Tamara Rees in an unflattering pose.

It did not help that Rees was also much less able to “pass” than Jorgensen or McLeod. Being of a larger frame and not having the dazzling looks of Jorgensen, or the petite darkness of McLeod, Rees was much more of an average transsexual woman. She did not turn heads, despite her being much more amenable to the press and publicity than McLeod. She was not nearly as polished in her speech as Jorgensen, and fumbled through the couple of interviews which I’ve seen of her. Like McLeod before her, Rees also resented Jorgensen, and again we have quotes of Rees lashing out at her “rival.”

Rees tried very hard to present herself as a typical American woman, and thus she appeared in several photographs showing her doing stereotypical female activities – such as vacuuming the floor in a dress and heels. This is similar to the photographs found in the autobiography of British transsexual woman Roberta Cowell (q.v.), which featured her playing the piano at home, cooking, shopping, etc. All to try to create a better image for herself and to portray an air of “just another woman; nothing to see here…”

Cowell_Roberta_CookingRoberta Cowell in a stereotypical setting.

At that era in history, transsexual women were required to be strongly gender binary. Remember, there were perhaps less than 5 surgeons in the world performing sexual reassignment surgery (the exact number is not known), and each of them and their associated psychiatrists demanded that a transsexual woman be rigidly gender-binary in their thoughts and feelings, or else surgery would be disallowed. Recall that even the late, great Dr. Harry Benjamin denied Renee Richards estrogen in the late 1960’s because she expressed that she was lesbian.

Richards_2Renee Richards – denied estrogen for insufficient heteronormativity.

Now yes, in truth to the best of my research it appears that Jorgensen, McLeod, and Rees were in fact all strongly gender-binary transsexual women. But if they hadn’t been, they would have still had to go through the same theater – Jorgensen flashing her legs, McLeod dressed in a fur stole, and Rees running her Eureka. It would have been a matter of survival – doing anything, absolutely anything, so you can have your body aligned with your brain.

New to the Archives: An Original Photo of Coffee with Christine

Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen, the first of the American “Atomic Age” transsexual women, is one of the most famous transsexual women in history. Born George Jorgensen, she suffered through gender dysphoria until her 20’s, when she traveled to Denmark and had the first of the modern sexual reassignment surgeries performed upon her by Dr. Christian Hamburger (Christine often said she chose her feminine name as a tribute to her surgeon.) I have a page with a collection of photographs and other material at this link, and recently I’ve purchased an original photograph dated March 30, 1953, to add to the collection.

The photograph shows Jorgensen relaxing with coffee at her parents home, possibly from early that March. Jorgensen had many advantages in her life, namely that being the “first” gave her tremendous publicity and uniqueness. One of the biggest advantages which she had was the support and love of her family, which as we all know, can make or break a transition process. She did experience her share of discrimination, as she writes in her autobiography, but overall her life turned out pretty well for her.

You can download a high-resolution scan of it at this link here.

Join Us for a Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Kuma Hina
On Saturday, April 11 at 11am, Community Cinema presents Kumu Hina.

Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of her dreams, and a trans boy can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hina’s Hawai’i.

During a momentous year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian māhū, or transgender, teacher uses traditional culture to inspire a student to claim her place as leader of the school’s all-male hula troupe. But despite her success as a teacher, Hina longs for love and a committed relationship. Will her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man fulfill her dreams? An incredible docudrama that unfolds like a narrative film, “Kumu Hina” reveals a side of Hawai’i rarely seen on screen.

After the film, a panel will discuss recent events impacting KC’s transgender community as well as its history. Una Nowling from Transas City, and community partners from The Transgender Institute will be on the panel.

Please note: The program and film start at 11 a.m., so please plan to arrive at least a few minutes early.

Kumu Hina
Saturday, April 11 at 11am
Tivoli Cinemas – 4050 Pennsylvania Ave Kansas City, MO 64111

You may RSVP by this link.