Saturday, May 24, 2008

Becoming a Woman: A Biography of Christine Jorgensen

Author: Richard F. Docter

First line: On February 27, 1988, 150 cross dressers, many of them in shimmering floor-length formals, downed a cocktail or two in the gilded banquet room of Chicago's Ramada O'Hare Hotel awaiting Miss Christine Jorgensen, indisputably the world's most celebrated transsexual.

Why you should read this book: Although not the first person to use hormone therapy and surgery to effect a transformation of gender, in 1952 Jorgensen was the first to go public with her story, to insist upon a medical model for her experience, to provide material for voluminous newspaper articles and press conferences, or to take her act around the world with nightclub booking where she sang, "I Enjoy Being a Girl," and bantered with the audience. From her childhood as the lanky George Jorgensen through her transformation in Denmark, her career as an entertainer and the final years of her life, Docter takes the reader on an honest journey, acknowledging Christine's foibles as well as her triumphs. An interesting, easy-to-read academic-quality biography, with bibliography and many source notes as well as details from personal interviews and old documents.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't hold with any of those newfangled perversions in the pursuit of happiness and just assume that your creator wants people to be miserable.

1 comment:

aredsand said...

If you liked this, you might find "Gender Outlaw: Men, Women and the Rest of Us" by Kate Bornstein intriguing. She does a deeply thought-provoking analysis of society's ingrained attitudes toward gender. Post-sex reassignment, she decided gender is (aside from society) a pretty irrelevant part of who we are. Included in the book is a produced play, "Hidden: A Gender."