Posts tagged ‘transgender’

June 24, 2014

Trans Woman of Color Murdered, Set on Fire, Then Dumped in Trash [jezebel.com]

by Kat Callahan / jezebel.com

transwomanfloridakilledburnedIn horrific news out of Fort Myers, Florida, a trans woman of color has been murdered, and her body set on fire, then dumped in a garbage bin. I just can’t right now, I just can’t even.

According to a local media outlet, the victim was identified as Yazmin or Yaz’min Shancez, which was the woman’s preferred name according to her family, although the police reported that her documents had not yet been changed to reflect this. The same report quoted Fort Myers Police Lt. Jay Rodriguez as saying the police have not determined a cause of death, and are not investigating the homicide as a hate crime.

We have no indication at this time to say this was specifically done because it was a male living as a female or anything like that. If you really think about it, a hate crime is killing someone for a specific reason, being black, Hispanic, gay. We’re investigating as we would any other homicide.

…I’m sorry, Officer Rodriguez, but are you trying to suggest here that killing someone because they’re transgender isn’t a specific enough reason? Or maybe that the reason doesn’t count because it’s not on your official “hate crime” cheat sheet? If I really think about it? Jesus fucking Christ, sir, I think about it constantly. Do you typically see non-hate crime related homicides that end with burning the already dead body and then dumping it like worthless refuse in a garbage bin? Is this a pattern in Fort Myers which makes it like “every other homicide?”

Her father, identified as Harvey Loggins, said that he and his family left balloons and stuffed animals in the small private drive in an industrial area of the city where the garbage bin was located.

With the exception of her father (who continued to use male pronouns, despite his daughter’sidentity), the majority of her family appears to have accepted her decision to live as a woman, which she apparently began to do in 2004. Her aunt, Beatrice Loggins, spoke lovingly of Shancez, citing her uniqueness as a person.

Nobody deserves that. Straight, gay, purple, pink, white, black. Nobody…There will never be another T, you couldn’t clone her, couldn’t mold her.

Cousin Jasmine Weaver seemed at a loss to understand the crime (you and me, both, Jasmine, you and me both).

We don’t know of any person who would do something like that to T. It’s mind-boggling. You’d never think that would happen to your family.

Mind-boggling? Horrific. Abhorrent. And an altogether too common reality for transgender people, especially trans women of color. I’d love to shout from the rooftops that this is so horrible because it is incredibly rare. Well, it’s not. It happens all the goddamned time.

And if this story could get any worse, if that’s at all possible when dealing with such a terrible crime, this is a second heartbreak for the family. They have already lost one child, as Shancez’s 15-year-old little sister was also murdered, gunned down in a drive-by shooting almost exactly two years before.

I hate everything right now.

http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/trans-woman-of-color-murdered-set-on-fire-then-dumped-1595108365/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1

March 21, 2014

How Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptists Are Christians, Explained [gawker.com]

Fred-Phelps-Signs

by Adam Weinstein / gawker.com

God is love, right? It’s sort of a cornerstone of the Christian faith: He “so loved the world” that He gave his son Jesus up to save us all. And if God is love, then a sociopath who pickets dead soldiers with a “God Hates Fags” sign can’t really be Christian, right? Well, the answer is complicated.

Fred Phelps is dead. The founder of Westboro Baptist Church, the litigious head of this hateful community, will soon be in the ground, and the media consensus is to be joyful and happy for the misery of a hate group that brought so much misery to others.

In the longstanding furor over their reprehensible tactics—a furor I, too, have indulged in over the years—few commentators have ever taken a moment to come to grips with the WBC’s theological foundations. That’s a shame, because WBC’s belief system is intellectually consistent in many ways that the “mainstream” religious right is not. And it’s based in a uniquely American theology as old as the colonies—a Christian paradigm that’s influenced our culture in myriad respects, but is seldom addressed by anyone but its most devoted adherents.

The broad theology of WBC can be summed up in one basic statement:

Everybody sucks.

Only awful, terrible, despicable, depraved people would cause a political hatemongering ruckus at a funeral or an elementary school. That’s absolutely true. The thing is, the faithful of Westboro Baptist Church would be the first to claim that they’re depraved—and so is everyone else. This is the bedrock of their belief system, laid out on their website:

These doctrines of grace were well summed up by John Calvin in his 5 points of Calvinism… Although these doctrines are almost universally hated today, they were once loved and believed, as you can see in many confessions of faith. Even though the Arminian lies that “God loves everyone” and “Jesus died for everyone” are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn’t always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn’t teach what the Bible teaches.

Click here to read the entire article…

July 18, 2013

The Many Shades of ‘Out’ [huffingtonpost.com]

by Lynn Conway

On a sultry June afternoon, as my husband and I strolled towards the White House East Entrance, I reflected back to the time of my gender transition, in 1968.

Shamed as a social outcast, I’d lost my family, my friends and all social support. I’d beenfired by IBM, and lost a promising computer research career. In many jurisdictions, I could have been arrested and charged as a sex offender — or, worse yet, institutionalized and forced to undergo electroshock therapy in a mental hospital.

Evading those fates, I completed my transition and began building a career in a secret new identity, starting at the bottom of the ladder as a contract programmer. Even then, any ‘outing’ could have led to media exposure, and I’d have become unemployable, out on the streets for good. The resulting fear channeled my life into ‘stealth-mode.’ I covered my past for over 30 years, always looking over my shoulder, as if a foreign spy in my own country.

But this was June 13, 2013, and what a contrast it was. My husband Charlie and I, along with many other activists, advocates and allies, were about to join the President’s White House Reception in celebration of LGBT Pride Month. The atmosphere was full of joy and hope for the future. As we waited for the President, I reflected further.

I had been ‘out’ for 15 years now, or so I’d thought: out on the Internet to inform colleagues about my past, out as an advocate for transgender people, out as an activistagainst the psychiatric-pathologization of gender variance.

It was one thing to hide in the back-rooms of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center decades ago, launching innovations as the hidden-hand behind the VLSI microelectronics revolution in Silicon Valley - a revolution that’s changed the world forever. I didn’t mind being almost invisible in my field back then or that no one had a clue what I was really doing, much less who was doing it. I was thrilled to even have a job.

But ‘out’ has many shades of grey — and even in recent years I kept on partly covering, shyly holding back, lingering in the darker shadows. Although times had changed, I’d clung to old habits.

Down through the years no one could explain how the VLSI revolution actually happened. The results were simply taken for granted. Although I’d gained vital knowledge about generating such engineering paradigm shifts, I feared that my personal history would loom large in people’s minds, and obscure any attempts at explanation. It wasn’t till 2012 that I finally got up the nerve to publish a career memoir, to begin telling the story of how the revolution came about …

As the president entered the room, I glanced around and took in the joyful vibes. As he began to speak, I grasped the reality of how far we’d come. Times had more than changed: a fresh wind was sweeping through our society, especially amongst the younger generations.

Then I thought of the millions of other LGBT people out there. I tried to envision the enormity of lifelong struggles against stigmatization and ostracism, of losses of families and employment, of their oppression by having to ‘cover’, often not fully engaging life nor being known for who they were, what they’d done, who they loved or who loved them.

And it hit me: we’ve come so far, so fast, that ever so many others could begin shedding old habits too. After all, freedom isn’t just an external concept, framed by our laws. It’s a gift of the spirit that we must give ourselves, in this case by going towards brighter shades of ‘out’.

Bottom line: If you want to change the future, start living as if you’re already there.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lynn-conway/the-many-shades-of-out_b_3591764.html

July 16, 2013

Transgender woman wins landmark employment discrimination suit [salon.com]

In a historic first, the federal government has ruled in favor of a transgender woman in a work harassment case

BY 

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was verbally and physically harassed at her job with a federal contractor in Maryland. The court ruled that the woman’s supervisors created a hostile work environment by failing to intervene after being informed of the harassment, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The ruling is a historic first, advocates say.

“We applaud the EEOC for conducting such a thorough investigation and interviewing so many witnesses to the anti-transgender harassment,” Tico Almeida, president of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work, told the Advocate. “Coming just a few months after the EEOC issued its historic decision that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC’s reasonable cause determination in this case is, to our knowledge, the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee. This case shows that the EEOC takes very seriously its role in protecting LGBT Americans’ freedom to work.”

The details of the first case have been kept confidential as part of the settlement.

Another case, adjudicated around the same time, is also a major victory for transgender rights.

That case, known as Macy v. Holder, was initiated after the plaintiff, Mia Macy, was denied a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives after she came out as transgender.

More from the Washington Blade:

After applying for the job, Macy was told in January 2011 that she would receive a position at the laboratory. But after she disclosed in March 2011 she would transition from male to female, the contractor informed Macy the position was cut. Later, she was told someone else was awarded the job.

The 51-page decision — which was signed by Complaint Adjudication Officer Mark Gross and Complaint Adjudication Office Attorney Carl Taylor — lays out several terms for relief in the Macy case.

First, the Justice Department says ATF within 60 days of the decision must offer Macy that job she was seeking at the Walnut Creek factory and award her back pay and benefits — with interest — for the period between April 2011 to January 2012.

Additionally, the Justice Department says ATF must take corrective action to ensure future discrimination never occurs again; award Macy compensatory damages for any injuries she may have received; refund Macy her attorney’s fees; and post a notice within 30 days consistent with employment law.



“I never thought in my life that it would be over, but to have it not only be over but to have them say, ‘Yes, unfortunately, your civil rights were violated. They did do this.’ To have that vindication, it’s surreal,” Macy told BuzzFeed in a comment on the victory.

Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, says these cases demonstrate the importance of federal protections for LGBT workers, as he told the Blade: “We need action by the 113th Congress to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and even more immediately, President Obama should sign the executive order banning LGBT discrimination by companies that profit from federal contracts,” Nevins said. “That executive order should have broad support across the political spectrum, since federal dollars should neither fund discrimination nor go to employers whose personnel and productivity suffer because discrimination and harassment are tolerated.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/16/transgender_woman_wins_landmark_employment_discrimination_suit/

July 9, 2013

Dustin Hoffman Explains His Insights That Every Woman Already Sadly Knows

Many years ago, Dustin Hoffman made the film “Tootsie” with Sidney Pollack.  It was quite a hit at the time.

The story was about an out-of-work actor who impersonated a woman in order to gain employment on a soap opera.  Funny and poignant, Hoffman found new insights for himself about what women experience every day.

August 12, 2012

The Crossdressing Room [gawker.com]

by David Torrey Peters

When I was six, my mother left a box of small garbage bags lying around. I found one, cut the bottom off, and used the cinch-tie at the top to make a small, crude dress. I put it on and looked at myself in the mirror. As my reflection stared back at me, a wave of well-being surged over me, sweeping away any real specifics of that moment. All that remained was a feeling of correctness, like finding just the right word to describe something: a reflection of myself as I knew myself to be, but had yet to see. I turned away from the mirror with a new sensation of beauty and lightness buoying my step. I descended the stairs to show my parents, who sat in the enclosed porch.

Passing through the kitchen, I spotted a coffee cake on the counter. Brimming with satisfaction, I felt a sudden inspiration, a desire to be generous. I pulled the coffee cake off the counter and held it in my arms before me. In my garbage bag dress, I walked into the porch and carefully placed the cake on the coffee table. Hands on my hips, I announced to my parents, who stared at me with their coffee cups in hand: “I’m a waitress!”

There was a moment’s pause, during which, but for the sparrows flitting past the windows, time appeared frozen. Then my mother shifted her glance to my father and the two of them burst out laughing. I held still, wearing only my underpants and the garbage bag, confused, because I felt beautiful, and why couldn’t they see that? The notion that I should be embarrassed crept up on me—and then with the force of a physical blow, I was. I fled the room, tripping and sliding on the makeshift hem as I went, the plastic clinging to my suddenly hot skin. “Oh, come on!” my father yelled back at me. “There’s nothing wrong with being a waiter.”

Click the link below to continue reading the article:

http://gawker.com/5933857/the-crossdressing-room?comment=51776316

 

August 3, 2012

Transgender Warrior: The story of Birmingham’s Jody Suzanne Ford

By Julie Buckner Armstrong

Lou Reed made it seem easy. His 1972 “Walk on the Wild Side” pulled gender conversion out of the closet, on to the open road:

Holly came from Miami, Fla.,

Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.,

Plucked her eyebrows on the way,

Shaved her legs and then he was a she.

Jody Suzanne Ford was one of Birmingham’s first transsexuals and owned a hair salon. She was shot to death in 1977. Photo courtesy Birmingham Post-Herald.

Because Holly was a glam-rock myth, Reed didn’t cover the reality of sex change. Holly went from Miami to New York. In places like Birmingham, going from a he to a she meant more than shaving legs.

Not long after Reed’s song hit Number 16 on the Billboard charts, theBirmingham Post-Heraldprofiled Sidney McFerrin Ford’s transition to Jody Suzanne Ford. In 1977, local papers covered Ford’s death from a close-range bullet to the chest.

Details about Ford’s life are sketchy. My own memory is like that of many Birmingham residents. I got my first “big girl” haircut at Ford’s popular Five Points South salon, Ms. Sid’s Coiffures. I remember her as media sensation, not as actual person.

Mostly, I remember my mother’s nine words on the subject: “Don’t stare, it’s not polite” and “Ms. Sid looked good.” Indeed she did, as existing photographs of her show.

Salon patrons describe Ford as kind – and as a character. At 6’4” and well over 200 pounds, she commanded the rooms she walked into.

And she enjoyed doing so, says a former client named Michael.

Michael remembers a time that he and Ford ate dinner at the Social Grill after a haircut. The waitress took Michael’s drink order, gestured at Ford and asked, “What does he want?”

Ford stood up, towered over the waitress and screamed, “He, he . . . where do you see a HE?”

Ford then spent the next hour telling Michael all he wanted to know about changing from male to female.

Please click on link to continue reading the article:

http://weldbham.com/local/2012/08/02/transgender-warrior-the-story-of-birminghams-jody-suzanne-ford/

August 3, 2012

Webinar for Transgender Education and Resources

Sex-Segregated Services:
Finding Resources for Transgender Clients

Webinar for Anti-Violence Professionals
August 9, 2012  /  2:00 – 3:30pm Central

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

August 9, 2012 webinar titled “Sex-segregated services: Finding resources for transgender clients?”   Learn more by going to http://forge-forward.org/event/sex-segregated-services/ and please share with your co-workers and colleagues.

Description:    

In an ideal world, every client would have access to ANY medical/ mental health service.  Unfortunately, many services are sex-segregated, which creates barriers for clients (and providers) who are seeking the care and services they deserve. This webinar will examine how to creatively advocate for and with your clients.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Archived Webinars and Q&A

Did you miss the first two webinars in this monthly series? Would you like a co-worker or collegue to access the this information?  You can listen to the webinars and download related handouts by going to the following links:
Transgender 101: Serving Gender Variant Victims of Crime

(June 14, 2012)

http://forge-forward.org/event/trans101-june2012/

Note: To respond to questions we were not able to address during the webinar, we have constructed a written response to all questions that came in during and after the webinar.  Go directly to the Q&A to access information on the following subjects:

    • Logistics and information related to FORGE (7 questions)
    • Language (6 questions)
    • Policy and paperwork (4 questions)
    • Best practices (5 questions)
    • Statistics and references (9 questions)
    • Client issues (5 questions)
    • Other professionals (5 questions)
    • Other resources (1 questions)

Transgender Survivors: Statistics, Stories, Strategies

(July 12, 2012)

June 18, 2012

You Say You’re a Woman? That Should Be Enough [nytimes.com]

By REBECCA JORDAN-YOUNG and KATRINA KARKAZIS / nytimes.com

The International Olympic Committee’s new policy governing sex verification is expected to ban women with naturally high testosterone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, from women’s competitions, claiming they have an unfair advantage. I.O.C. officials portray this as a reasonable compromise in a difficult situation, arguing that the rules may be imperfect, but that sports are rule-based — and that the rules should be clear.

We agree that sports need clear rules,but we also believe that the rules should be fair and as rational as possible. The new policy, if it is based on testosterone levels, is neither.

So what is a better solution?

First, at the very least, female athletes should be allowed to compete throughout any investigation. Suspending them from competition once questions are raised violates their confidentiality and imposes sanctions before relevant information has been gathered.

Second, when it comes to sex, sports authorities should acknowledge that while science can offer evidence, it cannot dictate what evidence we should use. Scientifically, there is no clear or objective way to draw a bright line between male and female.

Testosterone is one of the most slippery markers that sports authorities have come up with yet. Yes, average testosterone levels are markedly different for men and women. But levels vary widely depending on time of day, time of life, social status and — crucially — one’s history of athletic training. Moreover, cellular responses range so widely that testosterone level alone is meaningless.

Testosterone is not the master molecule of athleticism. One glaring clue is that women whose tissues do not respond to testosterone at all are actually overrepresented among elite athletes.

As counterintuitive as it might seem, there is no evidence that successful athletes have higher testosterone levels than less successful ones.

Yes, doping with testosterone will most likely improve your performance by increasing muscle size, strength and endurance. But you cannot predict how well athletes will do in a competition by knowing their relative testosterone levels. There is just too much variation in how bodies make and respond to testosterone — and testosterone is but one element of an athlete’s physiology.

Third, if we want a clear answer to who is eligible for women’s competitions, it is time to stop pawning this fundamentally social question off onto scientists.

Bruce Kidd, a former Olympian who is a professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto, favors prioritizing athletes’ rights to bodily integrity, privacy and self-identification, and promoting broad inclusiveness. “If the proclaimed human right of self-expression is to mean anything, surely it should protect the right to name one’s own gender,” he says.

We agree. At present, though, because most nations do not offer their citizens the right of self-defining gender, the best bet might be to let all legally recognized women compete. Period.

Fourth, any policies must be developed through a transparent process with broad input. A major problem with the I.O.C.’s effort to create a new policy is its opaqueness. Which types of expertise and evidence were drawn on? What issues were considered?

Finally, the I.O.C. and other sports governing bodies should denounce gender bashing among athletes, coaches, the news media and fans. Policing women’s testosterone would exacerbate one of the ugliest tendencies in women’s sports today: the name-calling and the insinuations that an athlete is “too masculine,” or worse, that she is a man. (Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia recently said that she lost at the French Open because her opponent “played like a man.” Such comments do not do female athletes any favors.)

Sex testing of female athletes will always be discriminatory. Under the new policy, men will most likely continue to enjoy freedom from scrutiny, even though they, too, have greatly varying testosterone levels, along with other variations in natural attributes that affect athletic performance.

Sex tests are based on the notion that fair competition requires “protecting” female athletes. Protection has been the cloak that covers all manner of sex discrimination, and it is seldom, if ever, the best way to advance equality.

What are these tests protecting women from? Men infiltrating women’s competitions? A century of monitoring competitions for sex fraud says no. Will superwomen crowd out other athletes? No again. Women who have been ensnared by sex-testing dragnets have often been impressive, but not out of line with other elite female athletes.

What about letting go of the idea that the ultimate goal of a fair policy is to protect the “purity” of women’s competitions? If the goal is instead to group athletes so that everyone has a chance to play, to excel and — yes — to win, then sex-segregated competition is just one of many possible options, and in many cases it might not be the best one.

Rigidly protecting the principle of sex segregation sometimes undermines female athletes, as with the recent rule that women’s marathon records cannot be set in races that include men; the rule could have eliminated Paula Radcliffe’s best time, in 2003, which beat the record by three minutes.

Sex segregation may obscure other gender inequities in sports. Men, for example, have 40 more events in the Olympics and have longer distances and durations — with no clear rationale.

Sex segregation is probably a good idea in some sports, at some levels and at some moments. But it is time to refocus policy discussions at every level so that sex segregation is one means to achieve fairness, not the ultimate goal. Ensuring gender equity through access to opportunity is just as important.

Unlike in doping cases, women with hyperandrogenism have not cheated. There is no reason to disqualify women whose bodies produce any of the complex ingredients that add up to athleticism, be they superb vision, big lungs, flexibility, long legs or testosterone.

The obsessive focus on sex has done enough harm. María José Martínez-Patiño, whose hurdling career was derailed by sex testing, said a new policy based on testosterone levels would further the “decades-long persecution of women in sports.” As she told us, “It’s enough.”

Rebecca Jordan-Young is an associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, and the author of “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences.”

Katrina Karkazis is a senior research scholar at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University and the author of “Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/18/sports/olympics/olympic-sex-verification-you-say-youre-a-woman-that-should-be-enough.html?_r=1

June 18, 2012

Transsexual April Ashley Receives MBE from Queen Elizabeth [independent.co.uk]

She made headlines for her love life, but April Ashley has never stopped fighting to win equality for others like herself

by Matthew Bell / independent.co.uk

She was born George Jamieson in the Liverpool docks, but later modelled for Vogue and seduced Omar Sharif. Now, in the latest chapter of an extraordinary life, April Ashley, the first Briton to have a sex change, has been awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to transgender equality.

The recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours has thrilled the 77-year-old. “It’s unbelievable and wonderful and especially fantastic to receive it in the year of Her Majesty’s Jubilee,” she said yesterday, at home in Fulham, south-west London. She declined to speak until she had finished watching the Trooping of the Colour.

Duncan Fallowell, her biographer, said: “It makes me proud to be British. Proud of an establishment that can make such an award, perhaps a rather eccentric award.”

The story of Ashley’s journey from the docks of Liverpool to international high society is worthy of a novel. Born George Jamieson in April 1935 (hence the name he would later take), his father, Frederick, was a cook in the Navy and his mother, Ada, worked in a bomb factory. Childhood wasn’t easy: his mother often hit him with a belt for wetting the bed, and his father drank heavily – and also called men “darling”, unheard of in 1940s Liverpool.

George knew from the age of three that he himself had something different about him, and, in an attempt to quell this difference, he joined the Merchant Navy, aged 15; it was a failure and, by 18, he had attempted suicide and had had electro-convulsive therapy.

George fled to Paris in 1955 and reinvented himself as Toni, becoming a hostess at Cabaret Le Carrousel. Among those he hung out with were Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway and Nina Simone. And then, in May 1960, having saved £3,000, George presented himself at a clinic in Casablanca and was the ninth person to undergo Dr Georges Burou’s pioneering surgery. George’s unwanted penis was removed, and he was given the ability to have an internal orgasm. The operation lasted seven hours.

Returning to London, April found her striking looks quickly attracted attention: she was photographed by David Bailey and hung out with Peter O’Toole, who would hit anyone who caused trouble. She then landed a part in The Road to Hong Kong, a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby film. But her secret was revealed when a friend sold the story to The People for £5. “The greatest harm that did to me was that I have never been able to get work in Britain again,” she says. “I’ve been forced to live abroad to get work.”

She has lived all over the world: the South of France, 10 years in a large house outside Hay-on-Wye, then New York, Los Angeles and San Diego.

How has she made an income?

“You name it, I’ve done it,” she laughs. “I’ve mainly been an art consultant, advising people how to make their homes look nice.”

In the 1950s, she worked with a young John Prescott at a hotel in North Wales. “He was the sous-chef, and I had to inspect his hands to make sure they were clean every day.”

Some reports have erroneously suggested their friendship was somehow more than that, but Ashley says: “They got it all wrong. We worked together and he was very nice and very handsome. I found him extraordinarily nice, but there was nothing sexual about it.” Indeed, she says she received Christmas cards from John and his wife, Pauline, until five years ago, when she gave an interview headlined, “How Prescott made a woman out of me”. “The cards stopped coming after that,” she says, poignantly.

Her cruel exposure as a transsexual in the 1960s did little to diminish her allure, and she went on enjoy many male lovers. Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso were admirers, and, in 1983, at the age of 48, she had a one-night stand with Michael Hutchence, lead singer of INXS.

One admirer, the Hon Arthur Cameron Corbett, was the heir to a castle and 7,000 acres in Scotland. Trouble was, he was also married with four children, and had a weakness for dressing up as a woman. Their affair and subsequent marriage, in Gibraltar in 1963, quickly collapsed. A bitter divorce ensued, in which Corbett petitioned for an annulment on the grounds that Ashley was born a man, making the marriage invalid. Highly personal details of her anatomy were plastered over the papers, and the court eventually agreed with Corbett. It left Ashley distraught, feeling she had not been recognised as a woman legally, socially or biologically.

The status of transsexuals was left in this awkward limbo until as recently as 2004, with the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act, which allows a person legally to be recognised as the gender they are reassigned to. The MBE recognises Ashley’s work campaigning for the law to change. In the last decade, she wrote to Tony Blair and Lord Falconer, then Lord Chancellor, asking for her birth certificate to identify her as a woman. “They said: ‘Be patient’, and eventually the law did change. I got my new birth certificate finally in 2005.”

Ashley says she has sent thousands of letters offering advice to people facing similar predicaments. “I would always wish people three things – to be kind to yourself and to others. To be beautiful, on the inside, which makes you beautiful on the outside. And most of all to be brave, because you will need that.”

Duncan Fallowell praised Ashley’s determination in the face of unkindness as being as important as her campaign work. He recalled meeting her when he was an undergraduate at Oxford in the 1960s. “We gave a celebrated dinner for her in the Oscar Wilde Room of Magdalen College,” he said. “The porters served the food and stood against the walls like footmen. The climax came when April leaped on to the mahogany dining table and performed a flamenco in and out of the candlesticks. Magdalen had never seen anything like this. Ever.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/april-mbe-transsexual-crusader-is-honoured-7856581.html

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