Transgender Activist, Pioneer April Ashley Dies at 86

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday December 30, 2021
Originally published on December 29, 2021

April Ashley, a "true trailblazer" and transgender activist, has died at the age of 86, reported The Guardian.

Ashley was one of the first Britons to undergo gender confirmation surgery and was granted MBE status in 2012 for her advocacy work for the transgender community.

Born in Liverpool in 1935, Ashley moved to Paris and made a name for herself at the Le Carrousel nightclub, which was famous for its drag acts. There, she earned enough money to eventually to have her confirmation. It was one of the happiest decisions she has ever made, she said about the surgery in interviews.

The experience led her to be comfortable in her own skin, and kicked off her modeling career. She was photographed for Vogue magazine and appeared in films such as "Road to Hong Kong" with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Joan Collins.

Celebrating her trailblazing path, a number of celebrities shared their condolences and gratitude for her life.

The singer Boy George tweeted: "R.I.P April Ashley! A force of nature and transgender high priestess!"

Peter Tatchell, the LGBTQ+ rights campaigner, called her "the GREAT trans trailblazer for decades" and said he was "so honoured to know & support her in a past era when she was reviled after being outed as trans".

Trans activist and actor Jake Graf proclaimed, "April Ashley MBE was the definition of grace and humility, despite having fought hard throughout her life for her place in society."

He continued, "A true queen. Gone, but never forgotten. Rest in power." RIP.