Transgender pioneer April Ashley given MBE

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

Transgender pioneer April Ashley given MBE
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.

April Ashley’s Odyssey, a biography written by Duncan Fallowell, was published in 1982. In 2006, she released her first autobiography titled The First Lady.

Other people honored by the Queen this year include Take That’s Gary Barlow, and actor Kenneth Branagh.

Ashley is currently writing her second autobiography, about her life from 1980 to the present day.  

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Rick Santorum visits Washington, condems its gay marriage law

Republican presidential hopeful says it was 'a sad day for many people'
No thumbnail available

HIV on the rise in Australian state of NSW

The Australian state of New South Wales has seen a rise in new cases of HIV to a level not seen since the mid 1990’s but the state hopes to stop new infections by 2020
No thumbnail available

Melissa Etheridge: Sex better for her after 50

'Seriously, I'm healthier and in loving myself I attract a different kind of person now'
No thumbnail available

Matt Bomer says fans have taught him so much about 'love and commitment and acceptance'

Makes emotional comments while accepting People's Choice Award in LA
No thumbnail available

Top 100 UK gay employers named

Stonewall releases Workplace Equality Index list of best 100 British employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual people
No thumbnail available

Tunisia rights minister stands by homophobia

Despite appeals by Amnesty, journalists and diplomats, Tunisia's Human Rights minister stands by his words that gays are sick and their freedom of expression should be limited
No thumbnail available

Calvin Klein's ex-boyfriend, 22, speaks out

'I don’t know why, but there’s, like, something about me that attracts everyone'
No thumbnail available

Star Trek fan proposes to boyfriend on Enterprise bridge

'I am over the moon and completely shocked'
No thumbnail available

US State Department to appoint special envoy for gay rights

New post will be filled by an openly gay Foreign Service officer
No thumbnail available

SS16 London Collections: Men – Universal Works

Stylish and functional day-wear for the modern man