Carlett A. Brown


Carlett A. Brown discovered that she was intersex during physical exams she received while serving in the Navy during the 1950’s. After her discharge, she worked as a female impersonator and shake dancer to earn money for gender affirmation surgery.

Finding that the surgery she needed was not yet legal in the United States, Brown found a surgeon in Denmark, where the first SRS was performed in 1952. She soon learned that these operations were only available to Danish citizens, prompting Brown to renounce her US citizenship and apply for citizenship in Denmark, which would also allow her to change her legal gender and marry her boyfriend, Sgt. Eugene Martin, who was stationed in Germany.

Before she could leave the US, though, Brown was arrested for cross-dressing, followed by an order to pay back tax money she owed the government. While it is unclear if she ever became what was being dubbed “the First Negro Sex Change,” she remains known for her perseverance, having been quoted as saying, “I feel that female impersonators are being denied their right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when they are arrested for wearing female clothes …”

Adapted by MassTPC post.


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