Critics of return to Hogwarts mourn Rowling’s

Critics of return to Hogwarts mourn Rowling's

Actress, model and activist April Ashley has been hailed as a “trans trailblazer” following her death at the age of 86.

Ashley became the second Briton to undergo male-to-female gender reassignment surgery, in 1960. She was later photographed for British Vogue and appeared alongside Joan Collins in the film Road to Hong Kong. Ashley was named an MBE in 2012 for her campaign work for the transgender community. Singer Boy George tweeted: “RIP April Ashley! A force of nature and a transgender great priestess.

LGBT activist Peter Tatchell called her “the GREAT trans pioneer for decades” and a “hero.” Ashley was born into a working-class family in Liverpool in 1935 as one of nine children, and she joined the merchant marine as a teenager. After repeated suicide attempts, she was taken ashore and she spent time in a psychiatric unit, before moving to London in 1955 and then to Paris.

While in Paris, she saved money for her gender reassignment procedure while performing at Le Carrousel nightclub, which was famous for her drag acts. She underwent the operation in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1960, and later said that becoming a woman made her happier than ever. Once back in England, she obtained a passport and a driver’s license that identified her as a woman.

As a model, Ashley was photographed for Vogue, while her film credits as an actress included a small role in Road to Hong Kong alongside Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Joan Collins. However, it was not widely known that she was transgender, and hers was cut short in 1961 after the Sunday People newspaper gave her away. In 1963, Ashley married aristocrat Arthur Cameron Corbett in Gibraltar.

Her divorce in 1970 became a landmark legal ruling when the judge ruled that she was still a biological man and that it was not possible to legally change sex, invalidating the marriage. Despite the humiliation, he joined and opened a restaurant, April and Desmond’s, in Knightsbridge, but eventually the attention he received from the court case became too much and, after a heart attack in 1975.

She returned to Britain decades later, in 2005, when she was legally recognized as a woman in light of the Gender Recognition Act. In 2012, a year-long exhibition dedicated to Ashley’s life was opened at the Museum of Liverpool. Reflecting on her life in an interview, she said: They were crazy, wonderful times. Why not enjoy them That has always been my philosophy. I know more than anyone how people can judge.

She advised actor Eddie Redmayne, in 2015, on how to play a trans woman in his film The Danish Girl, and was thanked in the film’s credits. Following news of her death, artist Daniel Lismore called Ashley “a trailblazer, a hero and an icon,” while ITV host Lorraine Kelly described her as “a very classy lady.” The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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