Tuesday, December 28, 2021

April Ashley, MBE 1935-2021

 April Ashley, MBE, who died 27 December, 2021, aged 86, was an English fashion model who appeared in Vogue, and was an actress, and author. She was outed as a transgender woman by The Sunday People newspaper in 1961 and is one of the earliest British people known to have had sex reassignment surgery. Her first marriage to the heir to a UK peerage was annulled in a notable court case known as Corbett v Corbett.

She was born George Jamieson in Smithdown Hospital in Liverpool, 29 April, 1935, one of six surviving children of Frederick Jamieson, of Liverpool, and his wife the former Ada Brown.

At the age of 25, having saved £3,000, Ashley had a seven-hour-long sex reassignment surgery on 12 May 1960, performed in Casablanca, Morocco, by Georges Burou. All her hair fell out, and she endured significant pain, but the operation was successful.

She married firstly, 10 April, 1963 [marriage annulled 1970], the Hon Arthur Cameron Corbett [1919-93], son and heir of the 2nd Baron Rowallan, KT, KBE, MC [1895-1977]. Her 'husband' succeeded his father, 30 Nov 1977, as 3rd Baron Rowallan, and died 24 June, 1993. 

In the 1980s, April Ashley married Jeffrey West on the cruise ship RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

In 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was legally recognised as female and issued with a new birth certificate. The then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who knew Ashley from the 1950s, helped her with the procedure.


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