An investiture ceremony in Buckingham Palace takes place today when the iconic ‘sixties model and actress April Ashley will receive her MBE for services to the Transgendered community.
April will be accompanied to the investiture by her good friend, actor Simon Callow.
Born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935, in 1960 April was one of the first Britons to undergo gender reassignment surgery. She went on to have a successful modelling career appearing in Vogue many times photographed by Terence Donovan and David Bailey amongst others.
April’s divorce in 1970 from Arthur Corbett (who became Baron Rowallan in 1977) was infamous as Lord Justice Roger Ormrod ruled that despite April’s surgery she remained a biological man and therefore the marriage was invalid and annulled. The case set a precedent for all Transgendered people until 2004 when the Gender Recognition Act allowed people to legally change gender.
She has spent her life supporting the fight for Transgendered equality and has become an international role model for people wanting to change their birth gender.
A year long exhibition charting the shifting social attitudes towards gender and sexuality using personal effects from April’s archive will open at the Museum of Liverpool in October 2013. An estimated half a million people will view this exhibition which is being curated by Homotopia (Liverpool’s LGBT arts and social justice organisation) and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.