Transgender pioneer April Ashley given MBE

While others cite Christine Jorgensen as the sister who gave them the courage to go on and inspired them to dare live what they felt in their hearts, April Ashley was the one who provided that bit of hope and inspiration.

I was fifteen the year I read a serialized biography of her in a tabloid complete with pictures.  She was so pretty and glamorous, and lived an exciting life.

I was a transkid in a small isolated town in the mountains far from the big city and the freedom to be myself.

I clipped the articles and my parents found them.  I wound up coming out for the first time although they pretended not to hear me.

From Gay Star News:

Actress and model April Ashley was honored by Queen Elizabeth II for services to transgender equality

By Joe Morgan
16 June 2012

Actress and transgender pioneer April Ashley was given a MBE for services to equality today (16 June).

Ashley, 77, was the first British person to have gender reassignment surgery in 1960, and since has dedicated her life to transgender equality.

She was given a MBE, or Member of the British Empire, as part of the annual Queen’s Birthday Honors list.

On her website, she says: ‘In Paris, I debated with myself the decision to have a sex change. It was a hard decision. I knew I would be pioneering a dangerous operation.

‘The doctor told me there was a 50/50 chance I would not come through. However, I knew I was a woman and that I could not live in a male body. I had no choice. I flew to Casablanca and the rest, as they say, is history.’

After her tortuous 7-hour surgery, Ashley became a successful model and actress, appearing in movies like Road to Hong Kong. She was outed as transgender by The Sunday People in 1961.

Complete article at:

I Am A Woman Now

They are all women of a certain age; blue-haired ladies using canes, well-preserved sixty-year-olds walking small dogs in the park, or aging beauties meeting old beaus for a posh lunch. And they all have one thing in common: Dr. Georges Burou, who in the ’60s and ’70s operated a clinic in Casablanca where he performed groundbreaking sex-change surgeries.

In this beautifully photographed documentary, five transwomen reflect back on their lives as women, and the various paths that led them to surgery. In a mixture of interviews, home-movies, and scenes of their daily lives, we hear their stories. April, now every inch the British dowager, remembers her mother’s rejection and her early years in the navy. Corinne and Bambi reminisce about their days as showgirls at Le Carrousel in Paris and Colette talks about the difficulties of post-op dating; meanwhile, Jean recounts a life spent travelling back and forth across gender borders.

Wednesday, June 20, 1:30 PM
Castro Theatre

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