Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trans Pioneer April Ashley Receives Her MBE

I wrote about this when it happened back in June, and in a morning investiture ceremony held at Buckingham Palace last Thursday, trans pioneer April Ashley was awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE) as part of the annual Queen Birthday Honors list.

The now 77 year old Ashley  was one of the first persons from Great Britain who underwent SRS back in 1960, became a successful actress and model, appeared in the Road To Hong Kong movie with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and became a trans human rights advocate..

April AshleyShe was also one of the parties in the horrible 1970 Corbet v Corbett divorce case that set a grossly negative marriage precedent for transpeople in Great Britain by not allowing them to get married until it was reversed in 2004 by the British Gender Recognition Act.

Ashley received the Member of the British Empire in the investiture ceremony from Prince Charles for her long time work as a British trans human rights advocate, and congratulations to her for a well deserved honor.

Ashley said that for over half a century she had "been writing to people and helping people and I've written thousands and thousands of letters".

"Strangely enough although it was transgender, it was also gay and lesbian [people writing to me] and women desperate for divorces," she said.

About her gender reassignment surgery in 1960 and being awarded the MBE Ashley said, "To me it was just a normal thing to do - I never thought I was doing anything special quite frankly, so to be suddenly awarded this is astonishing."

Bella Jay, who organizes the annual Sparkle event in Manchester, UK said the former model had "faced many struggles in life, which perhaps people don't really understand in the more tolerant and open society in which we live today".

"Achieving real transgender equality is a big issue for many people in modern Britain, but all too often it either fails to gain any real publicity or is misunderstood," said Jay in a BBC interview.

"I congratulate April on the award which recognizes her achievements and again helps bring the issues facing the trans-community into the public eye.

Ashley's trans cousins across the Pond and around the world that she was an inspiration and beacon of hope to in the 60's and beyond also join our British cousins in recognizing April Ashley, MBE as well.

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