Caitlyn Jenner has captured the world’s attention–and apparently Twitter’s, too–with her debut appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair. Over the past several months, we have learned much about her transformation, and ourselves. As much as Jenner is doing to raise awareness for the trans community, she is aided substantially by the steps of Christine Jorgensen, the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery.
One day before Valentine’s Day, 1953, Christine Jorgensen returned to New York after what was quite literally a transformative trip abroad. Prior to her travels, Christine went by George. But when her plane landed in the United States, not only was Christine no longer George–she was no longer “average”, either. Almost overnight the American media catapulted Christine, who had begun the process of gender reassignment, to national fame. While not the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, Jorgensen was the first American to become somewhat of a celebrity as a result of it.