I met April Ashley several times, back in October 1987, at the home of a pianist/singer from the Bel Age Hotel, West Hollywood. At that time I was filming the pianist for an Australian TV music ‘special.’ April liked to be called ‘Lady Ashley’ then and she was charming, very British, and spoke beautifully. She wanted to take me shopping every time we met there. Those were exciting and fun days. Congratulations April on your MBE.
Really great news for a real pioneer. She deserves it.
Congratulations April Ashley. A wonderful tribute and so deserved. An inspiration to all but especially to transgender people.
Congrats to Ms Ashley, though personally it would have been nicer had she received and Dame or peerage.
More reflective I think but nevertheless the MBE is well deserved.
Dame would be unfortunate, given that the judge in the infamous and disastrous divorce case said, in the prejudiced judgement that condemned us to decades of legal limbo, that he was irretrievably reminded of a drag queen. The wig (due to stupid cessation of hormones after surgery), the ex-model’s heavy make-up, and an overly mannered voice, even for the wife of the heir to an old peerage, still didn’t justify that.
If the government is giving April an MBE, they should logically apologise for that judgement, and the way successive governments maligned us in the courts and elsewhere, in defending it for decades. And they should use the occasion of the reforms needed to legalise same-sex marriage (or equal marriage) to sweep away the remaining discrimination in the Gender Recognition Act that embodies the lasting attitudes from that judgement: requiring us to be listed on a Gender Recognition Register, not sealing our past records, denying recognition to under-18s, etc..
I strongly suspect that the ‘honours’ are pulled out of a bran tub randomly since so many people equally deserving get left out, but there is no doubt that this one is well deserved and not before time.
Will the likes of Peter Tatchell now retract their accusations that the Queen does not recognise LGBT contributions to society?
I doubt it.
Incidentally, what a beautiful lady, and a well-deserved accolade.
Tatchell will still harp on, as he is never satisfied and a staunch republican anyway!
Congratulations to Ms Ashley, what an honour for her.
I’m sorry but while it is good to see someone get recognised I’ve not seen anyone mention specifically what she has done to advance rights?
I’ve seen her referred to as having tirelessly campaigned for trans rights but having been part of the trans ‘community’ for a very long time never saw much evidence of this. Caroline Cossey at least made the effort of taking her case to be married to the ECtHR.
I’m not wanting to put down what she has been through but surely there are more deserving people who are actual activists rather than someone who has a propensity to namedrop all the famous people she met because she was lucky enough to be born pretty.
I must say, I hadn’t even heard of her. I just google her a bit and still can’t find out what campaigning she has done to advance trans rights so I have some sympathy with your comments Golden. I think the key to understanding what has gone on here is in the sentence “Her name has since been associated with several members of the upper echelons of British society”! Oh well, good on her anyway. Glad one of us made it, by hook or by crook!
I suppose you could argue that she raised the profile of trans people, as did Jan Morris, simply by being open about it and being among the first to have a high public profile?
She certainly raised Amanda Lear’s profile when she unnecessarily and arguably maliciously outed her.
There are people out there a hell of a lot more deserving of this than her.
Christine Goodwin, who finally defeated the UK government’s “we cannot falsify the historical birth record” argument at the European Court of Human Rights by using the evidence of possible inborn cause, making it a matter of discrimination on grounds of birth, would be the preferred example. But then she made the PFC, who don’t like the idea it is inborn and so had previously failed at the same court, look bad, and some civil servants clearly still haven’t forgiven her, so that’s unlikely to happen.
Is it raising the profile, or self-publicity? Claiming to be the first UK transsexual, when it the condition is clearly inborn, and claiming to be the first UK sex change, when that was the F->M Michael Dillon in the 1940s, and Roberta Cowell preceded her in 1951, got the front cover of the massively popular Picture Post with quite positive coverage in 1953, and had paid for “The father of modern plastic surgery”, Harold Gillies, to figure out a technique for T->F surgery that has been used ever since, worldwide, seems more like erasure than raising our profile.
I do wonder who sponsored this award, although, after a life beset with prejudice, I don’t begrudge her any comfort the bauble gives the silly woman.
She was the first T->F known to the UK public who had never been a man, whereas Roberta Cowell had been a WWII fighter pilot and Christine Jorgenssen had been a soldier. But then she suppressed everything about transsexualism in childhood from her serialised story and biography, despite the obvious pictures, only revealing it is the soon pulped revision quite recently, when others had forced it into pubic awareness. Now she talks of being the first UK transsexual, which is tantamount to pissing on the children, since we are clearly born transsexual, and our greatest need is to become just girls, and women (or boys and men for the T->Ms). To imply one become transsexual with surgery is to play right into the hands of the hateful radfems and religious bigots too.
Congratulations, Ashley, well deserved! It took great courage to do what she did so many years ago. Well done!
I must admit to not knowing anything about April Ashley or her work for trans rights. I think this is MBE is good because it simply raises the issue, if nothing else.
April Ashely became Mrs Corbett of the Corbett v Corbett case.
I am no lawyer, but, as I understand it, Judge Ormrod concluded, in 1971, that she was NOT a woman in law because she had not changed her birth certificate.
As a result the marriage was invalid.
The problem that we have to resolve currently is that trans people today have to annul their marriages when they transition, otherwise they still can’t get a full gender recognition certificate.
That’s what the same sex marriage proposals are addressing: whether your marriage was valid at the time or not, you can’t remain married if you change gender.
In spite of the protests of those who say that marriage has always been between a man and woman.
I think it is significant that the law changed less than 50 years ago, and the timing of this award might – just – have something to do with the opposition to the legislation that would have undone the damage done by judge Ormrod.
April Ashley played a vital role, inadvertently when outed, then in her serialised life story, in demonstrating that sex change was real, and one could become a young woman. But it would have been crazy to think she wouldn’t be outed after being so publicised as a female impersonator in France.
Then she made a very bad marriage choice with an abusive transvestite, and her divorce, seeking just a few thousand, was a disaster. She had not done the background stuff like blood tests and assessments, her surgeon didn’t testify, and her lawyers were unprepared for her husband’s “we were both freaks undeserving to be called married” stance. The judge demonstrated huge prejudice but, instead of appealing, she used the money from newspapers to buy into a restaurant.
This left the rest of us without legal status for 30 years. Now she claims that her new birth certificate was a precedent, when it was the result of the Gender Recognition Act that was forced by Christine Goodwin at the ECHR.
As a gay man, I don’t see a direct contact with trans people, except that we are all deemed queer. But that is enough.
But I enthusiastically entirely and completely support legal and social equality for trans* people, and I applaud the intense bravery many trans* people show.
My question is will there be a backlash from the lords and lady’s about a former potential lord being now called a Lady.. Or perhaps, finally have we come far enough to not be distracted by such nonsense. Fleet St will no doubt have the final say in this regard