Trans pioneer Jackie Shane: ‘I don’t bow down. I do not get down on my knees’

The R&B singer’s music and backstory took on a mythical quality when she disappeared from public view. Now a retrospective is retelling her story

 Jackie Shane in 1967 … ‘Some adults were afraid of me because I was intelligent. I thought for myself.’ Photograph: Courtesy of Numero Group

Anyone imagining the life of a black transgender woman in the American south of the 1950s and 60s may expect a world of taunts, misunderstanding and fear. Jackie Shane, who lived that life growing up in Nashville, claims she never experienced any of those things. “I’ve never had a problem, not once,” Shane says. “Even in school, the other kids accepted me. So did their parents. There was something about me that drew them.”

Years later, that something made Shane a highly improbable star, based on a deeply soulful singing voice, and a courtly presence, that drew interest from Motown and Atlantic Records, an invitation to appear on Ed Sullivan’s powerful TV variety show and talks with George Clinton about joining Parliament-Funkadelic. Her music from that period is getting a surprising second life through a compilation of blistering studio and live performances from the 60s compiled by the archival company Numero Group for the new set Any Other Way.

More than five decades ago Shane headlined clubs in her adopted town of Toronto while sporting full makeup, wigs and sequin tops. Her presentation didn’t stop her from performing on television, or from scoring a No 2 hit on Toronto radio with a cover of a soulful song of acceptance, Any Other Way.

The singer – who is now 77 – speaks with a preacher’s belief, filling her conversation with advice and entreaties to “ignore the lies of ignorant people” and to “live and let live”. Shane always knew she was a woman, though others didn’t always identify her as such. “At five years old, I would dress in a dress, hat, purse and high heels and go up and down the block – and enjoy it.”

Click the link below for the entire story



Could Norway follow Sweden’s lead and introduce a third gender?

Could Norway follow Sweden’s lead and introduce a third gender?
The leader of Labor’s youth wing said that Norwegians should be able to identify themselves whoever they want in their passports and other official documents. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / SCANPIX
Norway’s Labour Party, the largest party in parliament, will consider backing the introduction of a third gender, broadcaster NRK reported.
Labour’s programme committee will debate the introduction of the third gender category so that Norwegians would no longer need to define themselves as male or female in their passports and other official documents.
Labour’s draft party programme for 2017-2021 states that the party “shall consider the introduction of a third gender category”.
Although the proposal is only under the early stages of consideration, Labour committee member Mani Hussaini suggested that Norway should follow the lead of neighbouring Sweden, which adopted the gender neutral pronoun ‘hen’ into official use in April 2015.
Hussaini, who is the leader of Labour’s youth wing AUF, said ‘hen’ could also be used in Norwegian as a gender-neutral alternative to ‘han’ (he) and ‘hun’.
“I believe that all people should be allowing to live out their identity and thus the law should adapt to reality rather than the other way around,” Hussaini said.
“I think that for example in the passport it could show that one is neither male nor female, but belongs to a third gender category, thus a ‘hen’,” he added.
The idea of a ‘hen’ is not entirely new to Norway. The social-liberal party Venstre proposed the introduction of a third gender in April 2016 but it failed to gain traction.
Likewise, Sweden’s adoption of ‘hen’ has not been without controversy. The pronoun sparked massive debate in 2012 when a publisher decided to use it in a children’s book. But others argued that ‘hen’ is not meant to replace gendered pronouns. Instead, it allows speakers to refer to a person without having to mention the gender if they don’t know it, if the person is transgender, or if the information is considered irrelevant.
Ultimately, the Swedish Academy agreed to include ‘hen’ in its official dictionary, Svenska Akademiens ordlista, in 2015.
The Local

In The Night : How North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act Allows Discrimatory Practices for: Poor, Handicap, and Minorities

Photo: MTV

In February, Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city.  Passed  passed a bill to ban LGBT discrimination. This move outraged members of the Republican Party.

A day before the city council voted Gov. Pat McCrory told city officials in an email that state lawmakers make that immediate action to block the law if it passed.

In a special convened session on March 23,  eleven Democrats and seventy three Republicans in the House Voted for the Law.   In the State Senate thirty two Republicans voted in favor of the law and Democratic Senators walked out. The law was passed late in the night, and signed by the Governor .

Thank You Pat

There was support for this bill in’  many suburban communities and rural areas of the state. Other cities Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh the State Capital passed transgender laws similar to Charlotte it seems Charlotte was the catalysis for the law

Last April, an Elon University poll found that 63 percent of the state’s registered voters dis Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.agreed with the state’s magistrate law. The same poll showed that 51 percent of Republicans supported a business’ right to deny service to customers based on religious objections. (Charlotte Observer)



Charlie Comero

Charlie was born a woman

This is what the General Public may not know

PART II. STATEWIDE CONSISTENCY IN LAWS RELATED TO EMPLOYMENT AND 28 CONTRACTING 29 SECTION 2.1. G.S. 95-25.1 reads as rewritten: 30 Ҥ 95-25.1. Short title and legislative purpose.purpose; local governments preempted


II: Directly effects the poor, disabled, women, and people of color


The provision  below added a single sentence to a longstanding legislative public policy declaration, a change that experts say unravels North Carolina workers’ right to bring action in state court for workplace discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or disabilities.



(Located on page 4)

(a) It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of

25 all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgement on

26 account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers

27 which regularly employ 15 or more employees.

28 (b) It is recognized that the practice of denying employment opportunity and

29 discriminating in the terms of employment foments domestic strife and unrest, deprives the State

30 of the fullest utilization of its capacities for advancement and development, and substantially and

31 adversely affects the interests of employees, employers, and the public in general.


The section below  effectively wipes out using the policy declaration as a source to back up the right to sue in a state court.   Your only alternative is to sue in Federal Court, which takes longer and could take years.    

In federal cases a plaintiff must file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with 180 days while the state allowed three years. A federal case cannot proceed without approval by the EEOC, which can take up to six months to investigate and approve a claim. Once approved, an individual has 90 days to file a case.

“For most people when they are fired they are trying to find ways to pay the bills and take care of their families,” she said. “It’s a traumatic event.”


(Located on page 4)

46 This Article does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a

47 statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based

48 upon the public policy expressed herein.”


There some in the state who believe its just a gay issue, they shouldn’t be concerned.

Think again!

If one person is oppressed, we are all oppressed.


Sacratomatoville 10 for 2015

Sex, Politics, Relationships, Reality TV, Stupid People, Sports, Celebrities and  Sacramento are just some of the topics we cover here at the Sacratomatoville Post.    With Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation three of the top 10 post are about transgender individuals   Sexual harassment accusations  against the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Sacramento occupy two spots in the top Ten and while there are many stories about Donald Trump, not one entered the top ten.


Top Ten Stories for 2015


A Bruce-Caitlyn Jenner Journey has educated millions of Americans.  Before Caitlyn there was Christine Jorgensen


Trans-gender pageant

 Last Summer Britain Held its first transgender pageant


Sacramento City Hall rocked after a sea of accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment against elected officials In May, a staffer accused Mayor  Kevin Johnson of sexual misconduct.  Then Warren Allen the Vice Mayor was accused of sexual misconduct. A former department supervisor was accused of sexual harassment, finally Pro Tem Angelique Ashby  was accused of workplace mistreatment of a City Employee. The city staffer withdrew her complaint against the mayor.  What followed was a national reopening of other accusations of sexual misconduct by Kevin Johnson, some dating back more than 20 years.   Mayor Johnson announced he will not seek a third team.



Kendra Sunderland

Kendra Sunderland was bored, bored, bored beyond belief, so she thought she would make some X rated videos in the library at Oregon State.


Dr. Seuss drew ''Cross-Section of The World's Most Prosperous Department Store" for "Judge" magazine in 1929

Dr Seuss known for children drawings also created mauy racist drawings, this one went for auction in California last May.    The 1929 color illustration for “Judge” magazine depicts a blatantly racist scenario and uses a slur to describe black people. It’s being auctioned for a minimum bid of $20,000.    In the four-panel drawing titled ”Cross-Section of The World’s Most Prosperous Department Store,” the artist depicts scenarios in which rich men can purchase items to make their lives more difficult. Dr. Seuss’ history of creating offensive caricatures isn’t a secret. His World War II depictions of Japanese people have drawn criticism for their portrayal of stereotypicial physical features and behaviors



There was a time in America when a TV couple like the Ricardo’s could not sleep in the same bed.     A time when different races couldn’t touch in the cinema and some people liked it that way.



First the Mayor and then the Vice Mayor ,Warren Allen  If you had to choose one of the Scandal’s for the foundation  of a Soap or Reality TV Show its Warren!    Delia Chacon, 45, said Warren created an atmosphere of “quid pro quo sexual harassment” between Aug. 26, 2013, and June 8 of this year.     Unlike Johnson, Warren’s  accuser Chacon had details, even went to his place in Oroville and knows many many  details about the Vice Mayor  and has accompanied Warren on many many trips.    Bravo and Lifetime could bring life to this story.



The underside of the SAS bridge deck of the new eastern Bay Bridge span is seen in San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Engineers are monitoring areas where small amounts of water is seeping into the structure, a situation which is not uncommon, according to spokesman Andrew Gordon. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

After two billion dollars, bolt breaking, premature rust, over 240,000 vehicles cross the bay on a bridge with a giant question mark.



Whitney Houston died in a bathtub in 2012.  In January, her only child was found unconscious in  a bathtub  in Atlanta.  She died later this year.



We’ve covered the Real Housewives of Atlanta for four seasons.  Good or bad, fans know Nene Leaks is not the one. She can chop up any challenger with her tongue.  But in Puerto Rico Claudia Jordan took down the Queen and didn’t break a sweat, leaving the sharp tongued Queen dizzy.  Within minutes the social media exploded, clips of the fight was repeated all over the country.  Fights broke out on Twitter and on You Tube.

Fans of Nene said she won, others said she was knocked out.     There are some who believe the Queen was responsible for Jordan’s exit. What ever happened.  Puerto Read Co was the number one story of the year


Caitlyn “Untouchable”?

Nearly 17 million viewers tuned into Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 interview. Millions of people were reintroduced to the faded Olympic star and learned of his very private and painful journey.

Today, more people know of Caitlyn then Bruce.  Despite her conservative views, her position on Gay Marriage it seems Caitlyn is untouchable.  One needent look any further than her family. They are very aware of public opinion and they are very cautious when they talk about her transformation.

There are some who believe she received a pass on the accident in Malibu where one person was killed earlier this year.

During an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live”  guest Sandra Bernhard was asked  if she was team Caitlyn?

 “Honey,” Bernhard responded, shaking her head. “Bruce Jenner was a sexist, golf playing bore. Suddenly he becomes a woman and everybody’s like ’Oh he’s so like moving and so emotional.’ It’s like ’no, “Honey,” Bernhard responded, shaking her head. “B sorry, no.’”   “You have to earn your right to be a woman” 

Last week on her radio show “Sandyland” on SiriusXM she said she was attacked by various gay groups after her comment about Caitlyn.

If difficult to ignore the Kardashian/Jenner machine.   Caitlyn is worth anywhere from 60 to 100 million dollars. During the Diane Sawyer interview, she plugged her “I am Cait” Reality Show on E..

I’m happy she is finally free to be who she is   But she owes a great debt to the LGBT community those who paved the way for her acceptance.

Today,Caitlyn Jenner is the ticket. People know her story and want see her up close and they are paying upwards of $700 a ticket for the privilege.  I don’t expect Ms Jenner to underwrite the Transgendared community.    What I’d like to see is for her to donate her time, and earnings from these appearances  to benefit LGBT centers nationwide.

The struggle for Transgendered individuals is far from over.  There are few centers for Transgendered outside of the large coastal cities.

A few months ago, I met a pretty young woman who says she is dying every day.   Every day she tricks to pay for her transformation.   She posts ads on Craiglist as a woman and is frequently raped and beaten up.  She advertises as a woman, and some men have a negative reaction when they meet her.some of the men leave, others beat her up.  She was beaten up the night I met her.   Her self esteem is less than zero. She traveled to Sacramento from the Midwest because she heard there were a lot of Sugar Daddies in Lake Tahoe.  Someone who take care of her and would pay for her last surgeries

In some circles, Caitlyn is untouchable, there is a lot of sympathy for her story and people quickly defend her.  But that’s today.   In five years……….


Britain: UK’s First Transgendered Beauty Pageant

The girls of the UK’s first transgender beauty pageant give the secrets to their looks including the secret “tape and tuck

By: Boudicca F0x-Leonard and Nicola Bartlett/UK Mirror

Pageant: The beauties

Head to toe in glitz as they strut down the makeshift catwalk, it’s all broad smiles and swishing gowns for the contestants in the UK’s next big beauty pageant.

Fourteen glammed-up hopefuls are here for one final bootcamp before the rivalry gets real.

But there is something that makes these stunning women special… they were all born men.

The air thick with hairspray, steam rises as Charli Darling, 38, from Salford has her hair styled into a halo of dark brown curls.

Trans-gender pageant
The bikini round

Akiko Obillo is squeezing into a glitzy cocktail dress helped by her friend, Vanessa Lacsamana, 40, from London. “It fit me yesterday,” pleads the 20-year-old, rearranging the diamante top.

In the make-up chair being put through her paces, Ashley Chadha, 18, learns to style her long blonde hair extensions.

For these girls, this is not just about putting on some slap and a blow dry – for some it has taken years to bravely step out on to this catwalk and take part in Miss Transgender United, the nation’s first trans beauty contest.

Jennifer Lopez Gomez
Before and after: Jennifer Lopez Gomez

“Transgender girls don’t get the opportunity to do this sort of thing,” says organised Rachael Bailey, 35, who founded Miss Transgender United and has put in £20,000 of her own money to make it happen.

“We’ve never had this many girls together before, they are absolutely buzzing. But it does mean we get to see all their personalities.”

Kara Malik, the diva of the pack, has arrived late and is scrolling through her phone. “This is how I want my hair,” she tells the stylist, pointing to a photograph of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Chloe Fearn
Before and after: Chloe Fearn

The 23-year-old from Manchester has come with her own tiara and is adamant she will look like a star.

A professional make-up, hairdresser and catwalk coach are on board to help, and Kara is not the only one determined to dazzle.

Vanessa, her hair in large rollers, slips into a beaded orange gown to get in front of the camera.

Originally from the Philippines, the NHS cancer nurse is no stranger to the catwalk and has already won a host of international beauty titles.

Talulah Eve Brown
Talulah Eve Brown

She is quick to take Ashley, the baby of the group, under her wing, helping with the huge train on her dress – actually, a bridal gown.

The youngster, from London, excitedly shows off a pair of ­glamorous Kurt Geiger shoes bought for the occasion. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk in these,” she confesses, slipping on black trainers instead.

There are no trainers to be seen as Melanie Hayes, the reigning Miss Cardiff, sweeps in to put the girls through their paces.

The catwalk expert teaches them to walk the walk. At first, Jennifer Lopez Gomez struggles. “The key is to keep walking – never stop or you’ll tangle,” coaches Melanie.

Kara Malik
Kara Malik

In the make-up room tips are being given by hair and make-up pros Amanda Clarke and Oona Connor. Some of the girls have grown their own hair long, while others go for wigs, weaves or ­extensions. Amanda explains how styling can be used to soften the jaw line.

Jennifer, the Caitlyn Jenner of the group – at 57, only two years into her transition – still has a lot to learn. Oona advises against the pink eyeshadow she has paired with bright pink lippy and a pink dress.

Competition for the mirror is strong. “Who is prettier?” one asks as insecurities bubble to the surface.

But it does not stop many flaunting their boobs, and even a flash of designer vagina. Fay Louise Purdham, 28, from Newcastle, is proud of her £12,000 bust. “Come and feel them,” she says, strutting in a black string bikini.

Jai Latto
Jai Latto

For some pre-op finalists, the swimwear stage is all about “tape and tuck”. Rachael reveals: “One friend used to tape everything, then layer two pairs of pants and a sanitary towel. You couldn’t see a thing.”

What is clear is that all the women are at different points on their journey – some years post-op, while others have gone only a few months on hormones. For Rachael the pageant is more than just a beauty competition. She says: “It’s not about who got rid of their back fat or toned up down the gym.

“I’ve already eliminated a lot of girls who think you ain’t a woman unless you’ve got great boobs.”

Still, Charli, eyeing up the slimmer competition, is keen to make her mark. The curvy make-up artist has had a difficult journey.

Brooke Fewins
Brooke Fewins

Tears well up as she explains she has Klinefelter syndrome. Born with an extra X chromosome, she has struggled to be accepted as a woman by her family. The stories are all different but the pain is a common theme – the reason this means so much to all the women.

The London final next month brings together 24 winners from six city heats. After glamming up for the catwalk, they can model swimwear, display a talent or showcase a design creation.

Jai Latto, 22, from Edinburgh – ­transitioning since April – is already cossie-confident, while Jossy Yendall, 29, from Newcastle, is shown how to do a victory roll with her hair.

She rocks her tiger-print one-piece. “It’s from Primark,” she confides. Sport-mad Chloe-Louise Fearn, 25, will show off her keepie uppies in high heels, and brave Fay will performa fire trick – on stilts. Stage three is evening wear. Joker Fay pushes herself to the front, complaining: “There’s something wrong with my sash – it doesn’t say winner.”

But the £5,000 prize is no joke – it is a chance to speak for the community. “They’ll be going round hospitals and festivals, and will present the LGBT Icon Awards,” says Rachael.

Transgender herself, she knows what each has been through. “I can’t have surgery because I have a heart deformity,” she says. “I feel really proud of every one of them. When they tell their stories, we’ll see some real tears.”

Six decades before Caitlyn Jenner, there was Christine Jorgensen “America’s Original Transgender Sweetheart”

With her recent cover appearance on Vanity Fair, primetime interview with Diane Sawyer and exploding Twitter following (more than 2.5 million and counting), Caitlyn Jenner has climbed into the stratosphere of American celebrity—sharing that rarefied air with the likes of  Katy Perry and  President Barack Obama  The coverage of Jenner’s transition from male to female—in the New York Times, People, USA Today and virtually every other media outlet—has only continued over the past two weeks, seeming to give the onetime Olympic athlete and reality TV father unprecedented notoriety.

But unprecedented Caitlyn Jenner is not. In many ways, her spectacular fame mirrors that of Christine Jorgensen, America’s first transgender celebrity—more than half a century ago—whose remarkable moment in the spotlight reminds us of the enduring power of celebrity, while telling us, too, about celebrity’s limits.

More than 60 years ago, the New York Daily News had the scoop. On December 1, 1952, its front-page headline read, “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty: Operations Transform Bronx Youth.” The story inside related how Jorgensen, a 26-year-old photographer who had served in the army after World War II, had undergone a “rare sex-conversion” from man to woman. Jorgensen was young, white, photogenic and conventionally attractive, and within a few weeks, her story had taken off into media madness, covered obsessively in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles in the United States and abroad. More than a year later, with Jorgensen still in the headlines, the Daily News claimed that she was its top story of 1953, boosting its circulation more than any other story, including the controversial execution of atomic spy Julius Rosenberg and his wife, Ethel.

Today the press coverage of Caitlyn Jenner sounds strangely similar. Jenner’s story, of course, has its own updated specificity. The incessant media buzz now includes intrusive paparazzi stalkers, the stereotypical masculine success once connoted by “ex-G.I.” has morphed into “former Olympian,” and the fan mail arrives instantly via online social networks. With a flourishing transgender rights movement, her story is nowhere near as startling as Jorgensen’s was in the 1950s. In other ways, though, a new CJ walks in the footsteps of an original. In the mid-20th century, Jorgensen shaped her own story and, like Jenner, won a surprising amount of public sympathy and support.

Born in 1926, George William Jorgensen, Jr., grew up in a Danish-American community in the Bronx. She had what seemed to be an ordinary childhood. But in later interviews and her autobiography, Jorgensen remembered turmoil, isolation and sadness. As a child, George longed to play with girls’ toys and wear girls’ clothes and, as an adolescent, developed crushes on teenage boys. By early adulthood, George lived uncomfortably as a man, with an insistent, unshakeable and irrepressible yearning to live as a woman.

In the late 1940s, Jorgensen read a popular book, The Male Hormone by Paul de Kruif, which suggested that testosterone created masculinity.  She came to see “sex hormones” as the cause of and partial solution to her problem. Instead of seeking testosterone, though, she sought estrogen. She consulted with doctors and learned that a few surgeons in Europe had already performed what doctors now call “sex reassignment surgery.” The medical literature included a few accounts of operations performed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s under the auspices of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science. But the Nazis had destroyed Hirschfeld’s institute in 1933, and it was not clear whether or where Jorgensen could find a willing doctor.  Nonetheless, in 1950, she left for Denmark to visit relatives and search for medical help.  In Copenhagen she met an endocrinologist who agreed to treat her free of charge. Under his supervision, she underwent two years of hormone treatments and surgery to remove the male genitalia. She changed her name to Christine and embarked on her new life as a woman.

At the time of the Daily News’ initial scoop, reporters claimed that a lab technician had leaked the story, but historians now agree that Jorgensen leaked it to the paper herself. Either way, it’s clear that Jorgensen, like Jenner today, appreciated the limelight. A few weeks after her story broke, she signed on with American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper supplement, for the exclusive story of her life, and the paper orchestrated her return to New York to coincide with publication of the story. In February 1953, a crowd of reporters and photographers met her at the airport in New York and scrutinized every detail of her clothing, hair, gestures and voice. As with Caitlyn Jenner, the journalists and commentators assessed whether Jorgensen made a convincing woman. One reporter groused that she “tossed off a Bloody Mary like a guy,” but others noted her “hipswinging” gait, her “slender, trembling fingers” and her “girlish blush.” Three days later, American Weekly published the first installment in its five-part autobiographical account, “The Story of My Life.”

Before long, press coverage of other transsexuals established that Jorgensen was not alone. In 1953, Jet magazine announced that Charles Robert Brown, a nightclub dancer who hoped for surgery in Germany, might become the first African American to transition from man to woman. And in 1954, various newspapers and magazines reported on Charlotte McLeod and Tamara Rees, both also former GIs, who had had surgery in Denmark and Holland, respectively. The press showed less interest in female-to-male transitions, but it occasionally, and usually briefly, reported on them. In 1954, the magazine People Today stated: “Next to the recurrent hydrogen bomb headlines, reports of sex changes are becoming the most persistently startling world news.”

with Milton Berle

Although her transformation was highly unusual, Jorgensen’s style of womanhood was not. She adhered, as the vast majority of American women did (and do), to conventions of femininity. Jenner’s sexy Vanity Fair cover, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, has drawn some critical commentary as a “stereotypical male fantasy of a woman,” but in the 1950s, no one complained that Jorgensen reinforced gender stereotypes.

She did, though, encounter some detractors who considered her a fraud.  In April 1953, for example, the New York Post published a nationally syndicated six-part series, an alleged exposé, “The Truth about ‘Christine’ Jorgensen,” that presented Jorgensen as a man pretending to be a woman. The Post revealed that Jorgensen was not, as some early news reports had suggested, physically intersexed; that is, before her surgery, she had the standard male equipment. The series presented Jorgensen as a cross-dresser, hinted at homosexuality and referred to her with male pronouns. Still, Jorgensen’s celebrity continued unabated, as the hostile stories only made her more controversial:  Was she a woman, or wasn’t she?

In the wake of the exposé, almost all of the press accounts continued to grant Jorgensen her status as a woman, and so, it seems, did the public. To capitalize on the publicity and also to earn a living, Jorgensen launched a nightclub act, with successful runs in Las Vegas, New York, Havana, Montreal, San Francisco and elsewhere. She agreed to radio and television interviews, and acted in summer stock theater productions. In 1967, Jorgensen published her long-awaited autobiography, remade in 1970 into a (notably awful) Hollywood film. And in the early 1970s, she lectured at colleges, sharing her life story with baby boomers who had missed her sensational debut. Although she was conventionally feminine, she fashioned herself as an urbane career woman with every right to participate in the world around her.

 Along the way, Jorgensen attracted fans. Hundreds of them. They attended her shows, and wrote her letters, which now reside in the archives of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. Transgendered supporters saw her as one of their own, a spokeswoman who didn’t hide and who advocated with dignity for others who had been shamed, rejected and brutalized for their gender expression. But her story resonated in the mainstream, too. Some letter writers offered her jobs or asked to date or marry her. Others applauded her courage, identified with her struggle and admired her story of obstacles overcome.

The stories of Jorgensen and Jenner are both episodes in the history of sensational journalism and celebrity. They attract audiences in part because they offer an unconventional twist on a long-favored American tale of striving and success. They tell optimistic stories of someone who pursued her dreams and refused to give up on the seemingly impossible. In both cases, the carefully posed glamour shots—in evening gowns and other elegant, pricey attire—create an aura of highbrow femininity and fend off critics who would condemn a transwoman if she failed to look womanly. Today, as in the past, the before-and-after photos stand as public restatements of what qualifies as conventionally masculine and conventionally feminine. At the same time, both stories recount transgressive border-crossings that undermine any attempt to stabilize gender by placing it into two unbreachable boxes.

Then and now, much of the frisson comes from the stories’ sexual edge. In an era when homosexuality was routinely stigmatized, Jorgensen confessed her pre-operative (and post-operative) attraction to men. Although she differed from gay men in her sustained desire to live as a woman and refused to speak in any detail about her sex life, Jorgensen nonetheless reminded readers that people born with male bodies did not necessarily desire women. Amazingly enough, she spoke out for gay rights in the 1950s, even though she did not consider herself gay, and she pushed her readers to consider whether (and why) the very same person was somehow more acceptable as a heterosexual woman than she had been when living as a feminine man attracted to other men. For Jenner, too, the sexual question, it seems, is unavoidable. In her recent interview, journalist Diane Sawyer felt compelled to ask Jenner about sex. Jenner discussed her past attraction to women and left open the possibilities for the future. Will she be queer or straight or both or neither? And why do we have to know?

The déjà vu of the Jenner story ultimately reminds us that Jorgensen’s individual fame did not change the world. This was as obvious in the 1950s as it is now. In early 1953, two cross-dressers, arrested for dressing as women in public, appeared before a New York magistrate. According to the newspaper account, they told the court that they hoped to follow in Jorgensen’s path with hormones and surgery in Denmark. The judge was “unimpressed” and described them, along with Jorgensen, as “men posing as women.” In response one of them asked, “Then why hasn’t she been picked up like us?” We might ask a similar question today. Transgendered people, especially poorer ones, are still fired from their jobs, ejected from their homes, abused on the streets and in prison, ostracized and sometimes murdered, while Caitlyn Jenner enjoys the trappings of celebrity. Why the disparity in treatment?

Celebrity, it seems, allows exceptions but rarely changes the rules. From the 1950s until her death in 1989, Christine Jorgensen spoke out for transgender rights, but ultimately her life as a star made only a minor dent in the laws and attitudes that pathologize unconventional gender expression. Caitlyn Jenner invites the public to consider once again how transgender people challenge and redefine conceptions of sex, gender and sexuality. Today we live in a different era, with a steady stream of trans celebrities (think Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock), doctors who perform “sex reassignment” operations in the United States, large and active transgender, feminist and gay and lesbian movements, and at least a few laws, court decisions and policies that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Caitlyn Jenner is not at the vanguard of this movement, and her peculiar celebrity will not usher in radical social and cultural change. But her desire to stand out and speak up won’t hurt the cause either. And the positive responses to her story might help us imagine a future when unconventional expressions of gender no longer elicit either gawking and stalking or ridicule, harassment and assault.

Joanne Meyerowitz, professor of history and American studies at Yale University, is author of How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2002), from which this article is partially adapted.

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