The GI who became a woman: video of world’s first ever transsexual Christine Jorgenson

Updated: December 5, 2012
The world's first transsexual Chrstine Jorgenson

THIS is the world’s first ever transsexual – revealed in rare newsreel footage that was filmed nearly sixty years ago.

Christine Jorgenson, a former GI called George in the US Army, underwent gender realignment in Denmark in 1953 and was the first person to go public after the surgery.

She is seen here at the age of 26 in archive footage that was recently posted on the website of historic newsreel company British Pathe.

The black and white clip is billed as “GI” CHRISTINE RETURNS HOME and shows Jorgenson being greeted by a huge pack of cameramen as she arrives back at an airport in the USA.

She was born as the son of a carpenter and grew up in New York’s tough Bronx district.


A plummy-voiced narrator tells viewers: “A 26 year old ex GI arrives home from Denmark where doctors converted him into a woman. Two years ago the name was George Jorgenson. Today it is Christine.”

Wearing matching fur coat and hat, the Christine holds a cigarette while a reporter attempts to interview her.  She nervously answers a few questions before being over-awed by the attention.

She tells the cameramen: “I don’t have any plans at the moment, and I thank you all for coming, but I think it is too much.”

But despite her initial discomfort in front of the cameras, Christine later became a famous spokesperson for transgender people and toured universities and colleges to talk about her life.

Christine Jorgenson arrives back in the USA after surgery in Denmark

Christine Jorgenson arrives back in the USA after surgery in Denmark (Pic: British Pathe)

A spokeswoman for British Pathe said: “To mark the 60th anniversary of sex change operations, we put up a clip of Christine Jorgenson being interviewed in 1953 on her return to New York.

“Christine had been born George Jorgenson and was one of the first to have a sex change using surgery and hormone replacement therapy. The story caused a sensation and amongst the media scrum, the Pathe cameras caught a brief interview with Christine. Interestingly, we also have a clip of Christine receiving the woman of the year award in 1953 for her contribution to science.

“Even though it was 60 years ago, the clips show a tolerance and progressive interest in sex change.”

You can view video of Christine here:

Before joining the army in 1945 she attended photography college, and in later life she also worked as an actress and a singer. Her stage act initially included changing into Wonder Woman, but she was asked to stop using the costume by the character’s copyright owner.

Christine died in 1989

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