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Politico Compares Caitlyn Jenner to America’s First ‘Transgender Sweetheart’

Politico Compares Caitlyn Jenner to America’s First ‘Transgender Sweetheart’


For this news source, it's a rare look at a transgender pioneer who also transitioned in the public eye.

Politico, the go-to source for all things happening in politics, has expanded its coverage to include Caitlyn Jenner, and not just because she's admitted she is a conservative.

As Politico noted, Jenner has climbed into what it called "the stratosphere of American celebrity -- sharing that rarified air with the likes of Katy Perry and President Barack Obama." Jenner's gender transition has also appeared in the pages and on the websites of The New York Times, People, USA Today, and virtually every other media outlet, and if anything the attention is only growing in the two weeks since she came out as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair.

That sweep now also includes Politico, which has expanded since 2007 beyond Capitol Hill and the Beltway to New York, a European edition based in Brussels, with future plans for New Jersey and Florida.

And in reporting on her influence on the media, the wonkish website dug deep, as it does on most issues, to point out that the onetime Olympic athlete and reality TV father's notoriety is not unprecedented. The report by Joanne Meyerowitz is partially adapted from her 2002 book, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States:

"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."

Read more about Christine Jorgensen as reported by Politicohere. And you can read the original 1952 report by the New York Daily Newshere.

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