April Ashley

April Ashley RIP

I had been intending to do a round up of my photography activities for 2021 before the arrival of the New Year. But something far more important has put anything I may have done in the shade.

On 27th December 2021 transgender icon and trailblazer, April Ashley died at the age of 86.

April had an eventful life – she joined the merchant navy in 1951, but after a suicide attempt she was dishonourably discharged. In the late 1950s she moved to Paris, worked in cabaret and by 1960 had saved £3,000 for her gender reassignment surgery, which took place in Casablanca.

Thereafter, she moved back to England and became a fashion model, was photographed by David Bailey and appeared in British Vogue. Unfortunately, a ‘friend’ sold April’s story to The Sunday People resulting in her losing all her modelling contracts and she never worked in the fashion industry again.

Since then she has lived in Hay-on-Wye and Fulham, London. Towards the end of her life she was recognised with a number of awards for her transgender campaigning activities, most notably an MBE in 2012.

If ever there was case of the transgender community standing on the shoulders of others, April Ashley has to be a prime example.

Rest in Peace, April.

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