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Arts

Trans pioneer April Ashley turns 80

Naith Payton April 29, 2015

Legendary trans campaigner April Ashley turns 80 today.

She came to prominence in the 1960s as a model, appearing in Vogue, and a number of acting roles.

She had travelled to Casablanca in Morrocco for gender confirmation surgery – one of the first people in Britain to do so – after spending some years in Paris, and had hoped to return to Britain without revealing her trans status. However, in 1961, she was publicly outed in the press.

In an interview with the Telegraph in 2013, she said: “And I never got another modelling job from that day to this. Six months’ worth of booking was cancelled overnight.”

She was then married to Arthur Corbett, the future Baron Rowallan, but the relationship soon broke down.  Corbett filed to have the marriage annulled on the grounds Ms Ashley was legally a man.

The annulment was granted, and this served as a precedent that preventing trans people from marrying until the Gender Recognition Act of 2004.

She was assisted in securing her gender recognition certificate by John Prescott, who she had known before transitioning.

A museum exhibition about her life ran for two years in Liverpool, and some of her letters and official documents were featured in an exhibition on identity at the Wellcome Collection.

She received an MBE for services to transgender equality in 2012.

More: April Ashley, John Prescott, model, trans activism, trans model, Transgender, vogue

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