April Ashley is one of our pioneering trans people and was honored last year with an MBE for her lifelong human rights advocacy.
It's exiting and interesting to note that an exhibit about her life is opening Friday in her hometown of Liverpool.
How cool is that?
The Museum of Liverpool is hosting the exhibit entitled April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady that will run from September 27-September 14, 2014.
The year long exhibit is funded with a £78,000 ($125,371) grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and curated by Homotopia in partnership with National Museums Liverpool. It draws upon April Ashley’s previously unseen photographic archive and personal documents to investigate the wider impact of changing social and legal conditions for all transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual people from 1935 to today.
April was born in Liverpool in 1935, joined the Merchant Marine at age 14 to escape her unhappy home life, and after two suicide attempts and electroshock therapy to 'cure' her moved to Paris, transitioned, worked at the famed Le Carrousel trans cabaret and was the first person in Europe (and Dr. Georges Bourou's ninth) to undergo genital surgery with Dr Bourou at his clinic in Casablanca, Morocco in 1960.
She returned to Britain after the surgery and became a successful Vogue model and actress until she was outed in 1961. She was a plaintiff in the 1970 Corbett v Corbett divorce case that has had international legal ramifications on trans marriages (and negatively impacted Christie Lee Littleton in 1999 among others) in addition to the status of trans people in Great Britain that wasn't rectified until the 2004 Gender Recognition Act was passed.
Ashley has had a major impact on us as a trans pioneer and it's wonderful that her life is being spotlighted
The Museum of Liverpool opened in July 2011 and is the first national museum in Great Britain devoted to the history of a regional city. It showcases popular culture while tackling social, historical and contemporary issues and is a fantastic, free family day out. It has attracted more than two million visitors since it opened and was awarded the prestigious Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2013 for its commitment to human rights as well as its work with children and families from all backgrounds.
The April Ashley exhibit is just another example of that human rights commitment. If you live in Great Britain or are here on our side of The Pond planning to visit Great Britain, hope you take the opportunity to travel to Liverpool and see the April Ashley exhibit while it's there.