Resource

Life Story: Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989)

Transgender Icon

The story of an overnight pop culture icon who used her celebrity status to advocate for the acceptance of transgender people.

Christine Jorgensen, 47, poses for photographers in a swimsuit

Christine Jorgensen, 47, poses for photographers in a swimsuit, 1967. Miami Beach, Florida. The Everett Collection.

Christine Jorgensen waves as she boards an airplane at Copenhagen, Denmark

Christine Jorgensen waves as she boards an airplane at Copenhagen, Denmark, 1953. The Everett Collection.

Suggested Activities

  • Lead students through a close study of the two images connected to Christine’s life story. What did Christine hope to communicate to viewers through her hair, makeup, and fashion choices? What does this tell students about the connections between personal appearance and activism?
  • Show students this news footage of Christine’s return to the United States. Have students discuss how and why Christine controlled the media narrative and what it must have been like for her to experience this level of public attention so quickly.
  • Compare the lives of Christine Jorgensen and Marsha P. Johnson, two trans women from New York City. How did issues of race and privilege inform their experiences?
  • Christine’s life continues to be an example for advocates for transgender rights. Ask students to read excerpts from Representative Alan Grayson’s 2016 speech on the floor of the House of Representative that connects Christine’s life to debates around gendered bathrooms.
  • Connect Christine’s life story to other LGBTQ individuals