Haining wins history prize


“Christine Jorgensen took the first steps for the transgender rights movement, demonstrating that often the quickest path to acceptance is to present the alien in its most conventional form: to break boundaries without having visibly broken them at all.”

This sentence closed the American history research paper, “Christine Jorgensen: Conservative America’s Favorite Reformer,” by Jackie Haining ’22, which won The History Prize on September 17.

“This paper has all the hallmarks of excellent historical writing: a fascinating subject, a clear argument, solid organization, and the use of a wide array of sources,” Upper School History and Social Sciences Department Head Susan Glazer said in her introduction to the prize.

Though the niche topic created some difficulty finding sources, Jackie said, she found inventive ways to do her research.

“My favorite part of the whole process was using the Google Engram Word Frequency viewer to see the frequency of different words used in all English-language texts between 1920 and 1980,” she said. “I tracked the words, ‘Christine Jorgensen,’ ‘transsexual,’ ‘sex change,’ and other related terms, and their usage graphs went in the same trends.”

Winning the prize was fulfilling and meaningful to her as a writer and person, Jackie said.

“It was such an amazing experience to hear people applauding for it because it’s not just people recognizing my work—they were recognizing my work on a topic that’s very personal to me and something I’ve felt self-conscious about in the past.”

Constantine Labrinos and Daniel Wang (both ’22) won second and third place, respectively, for their respective papers, “Race-Baiting Rhetoric and America’s Suburbs: the Grass- Roots Origins of the Rise of Conservatism” and “How the GI Bill Deviated from its Promise to Educate Black Veterans.” Daniel Azimi, Tess Bierly, Shirin Cooper, Anji Friedbauer, Adrian Mendoza Perez, Saffron Patel, Ali Roche, Julia Shephard, and James Staknis (all ’22) received honorable mentions for their papers.