Digital Transgender Archive

Mid-1900sPopular News Coverage

Sex Change Just 'Legal Correction' AritcleThe Transas City collection contains newspaper and periodical clippings from the latter half of the twentieth century, from 1950 through the 1990s. This era saw the increasing medicalization of the transgender community, as gender realignment surgery became a more common practice. Doctors gained further authority that allowed them to accept and control the lives of transgender patients. After Christine Jorgensen became the first person to undergo sex realignment surgery, many transgender individuals in both the United States and abroad opted for medical interventions. Newspapers printed articles with less-sensationalized diction, focusing instead on the lives and marriages of the individuals who opted for surgery. However, the inclusion of articles about gender realignment surgeries in newspapers proves that the process was not yet completely normalized, even when somewhat accepted.

One of the biggest themes from the collection is the increasing consciousness that transgender and other gender identities are not sensational spectacles or personal deficits. The medical and surgical model began to allow transgender people to physically change their bodies to make them align with their gender identities. One article, titled “Tolerance Asked For Those Cheated At Birth”, demonstrates how there was a new understanding that gender identity transcended the body into which one was born. Another newspaper about Donald Oliver Bury, an English science teacher who transitioned from female to male asserts, “Sex Change Just ‘Legal Correction,’”  further showing more widespread acceptance for those who underwent gender realignment surgery. The school district thsy employed Bury recognized his right to live as the gender with which he identified, even recognizing that the he was always male and the change was simply a legal formality.