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27 September 2012

Carla van Crist (18?? - 19??) impersonator, receptionist, actor.

Born of a US father and a German mother, van Crist grew up in Berlin and San Francisco. Carla found work as a female impersonator.

A visit to Harry Benjamin’s office in New York resulted in a suggestion to see Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. This she did and she obtained work as a receptionist at the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. In 1929 and 1930 she was operated on by Kurt Warnekros.

The Institut was destroyed in 1933, and by 1942 she was back in New York, where she made a living coaching young actors in “English diction”, and she also acted in several Off-Broadway productions.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 2002: 30,48, 294n53.

Carla is known about only because she wrote a letter to Christine Jorgensen’s parents in 1952.   Benjamin was unable to remember her visit.  Of course Carla, rather than Otto Spengler is thus Benjamin’s first trans patient. She also pre-dates Lili Elvenes (Elbe) and is perhaps Hirschfeld's second surgical transsexual patient.

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