April 20, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY LA: Christine Jorgensen in Los Angeles

Meet the woman who changed everything.

The Chateau Marmont is nothing short of an L.A. institution. Home (at one point or another) to some of the world’s biggest and most scandalous stars of the 20th century, it’s the place where James Franco apparently rejected Lindsay Lohan’s advances, where Paz de la Huerta flashed half of Hollywood’s elite, and where Heath Ledger got high of an evening.

It’s also the place where Christine Jorgensen, possibly the most famous trans woman in history, decided to settle for the long haul.

If you don’t know who Jorgensen was, here are the Cliff’s Notes: After World War II, in which Jorgensen served as a G.I. in the United States Army, the young woman travelled to Copenhagen in Denmark. There, after being diagnosed as transsexual [sic] rather than homosexual by her doctor, the “transsexual specialist” Christian Hamburger, she would undergo a two successful sex reassignment surgeries in the early 1950s.

During this conservative time in America, Jorgensen might have hid the details of her life from the world. Instead, she went public. Jorgensen burst onto the scene in 1952, causing a flurry of interest, shock, controversy, and sparking a national obsession that would change the course of history forever.

“Ex G.I. Becomes Blonde Beauty!” newspaper headlines exclaimed, launching Jorgensen and her story into the spotlight. The young woman was offered acting roles in film and on the stage, as well as the chance to become one of the world’s first reality celebrities. Jorgensen, however, shied away from the spotlight, trying her best to live a vivacious, yet normal life, performing at cabarets and nightclubs.

Later, becoming a distinguished speaker at schools and institutions all across the country. Jorgensen used her power to do good, creating a platform for people to talk seriously and without judgment about transgender issues. The filmmaker and transvestite Ed Wood used her story as inspiration for his 1953 “Glen or Glenda” (also known as “I Led Two Lives!”) while countless filmmakers and writers since have drawn inspiration from her story.

Though born in Utica, New York, it’s no surprise that Jorgensen chose Los Angeles as her home in the last few decades of her life. First at the Chateau Marmont, where she wrote her autobiography “Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography.”  In her lifetime, Jorgensen was mocked, made fun of, and treated like a joke. She walked off her spot on the Dick Cavett show after the host’s rude questions got to be too much. A dignified, private person thrust into the spotlight, Jorgensen handled her ascension to fame with grace. Until the end of her life, she refused to be disrespected or treated poorly because of her difference. Instead, the paved the way for trans folks everywhere, showing us how glamorous, rich, and beautiful life could be, no matter your assigned gender.

Toward the end of her life, she had a private home in Hollywood and a home in Laguna Beach, where she spent her final years before succumbing to lung cancer in 1989. Her ashes are scattered off Dana Point in California.

Related Posts

Film Review: Down Low

July 30, 2023

July 30, 2023

FILM REVIEWDOWN LOWRated R90 MinutesReleased March 11, 2023 By Dolores Quintana “Down Low” is funny. It’s a lean 90 minutes...

Film Review: The People’s Joker

July 23, 2023

July 23, 2023

FILM REVIEWThe People’s JokerUnrated92 MinutesReleased September 13, 2022 (Toronto Film Festival) By Dolores Quintana “The People’s Joker” is a heartfelt...

Skin Laundry Laser Focuses On Rejuvenating Skin

July 12, 2023

July 12, 2023

Facials don’t have to be invasive. That’s why Skin Laundry has taken a revolutionary approach to skincare technology, making the...

The Problem with Pride Outfits and How You Can Change It

February 20, 2023

February 20, 2023

Since pride month’s official declaration in 1999, we’re reminded every June of how far America has come following New York...

Happening Now: West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ Arts Festival

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

By Susan Payne Happening now through the end of June, WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival celebrates the artistic contributions of...

California Trans Child Molester Gets 2 Years In Juvenile Facility

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A Los Angeles County judge ordered Hannah Tubbs, a transgender California woman, to serve two years in a juvenile facility...

Homeless Initiative Meeting In West Hollywood

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood’s Homeless Initiative works to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. It’s estimated that...

WeHo Premieres the ‘Moving Image Media Art’ Exhibition Series

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood announces the premiere of the Moving Image Media Art (MIMA) program and the worldwide debut...

LA Street Will Potentially Be Named After Anti-LGBTQ Singer

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A portion of Bailey Street may be renamed to the late Mexican Mariachi singer ” Vicente Fernandez Street’ – a...

WeHo Spreads Word About Free Covid Testing

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood is reminding residents that free COVID-19 testing is available for them.  Demand for COVID-19 testing...

Green Qween New Queer-Owned Cannabis Shop Will Open Downtown

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

Green Qween, a new queer-owned and queer-driven cannabis shop, will open in downtown on April 20th.  The shops owners, Andrés...

2022 ‘WeHo Reads’ Series Celebrates the ‘Road to Joy’

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to celebrate literature and local authors with its 2022 WeHo Reads literary...

New CA Law Helps With Transgender Deadnames

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

A new California law requires public colleges to update diplomas and records for transgender students who have changed their names....

MJ Rodriguez, 1st Openly Transgender Actress to Win Golden Globe

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Michaela Jae “MJ” Rodriguez has made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to win a Golden Globe.  The...

Animal Shelter Donations In Honor Of Betty White

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Animal shelter donations have increased exponentially in honor of late actress gay icon and animal lover Betty White. Over the...