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April Ashley: Inside life of Britain's first transgender pioneer - from slums to Vogue
Pride programmes celebrating the LGBT community saw the story of April Ashley told, detailing how she became one of the UK's most prominent transgender equality campaigners.The Extraordinary Life of April Ashley took viewers back to her gritty upbringing in Liverpool's slums, through to starring in films, modelling for British Vogue and her controversial divorce court battle.Ashley, who died last year at the age of 86, became one of the first people in Britain known to have gone through gender reassignment surgery, in what proved to be a painful procedure abroad, after she was outed in the press.The documentary, which aired at 10pm on Monday July 4, was designed to “take the audience inside the intimate reality of the transgender experience” and explored how Ashley “paved the way for future generations of transgender people”, according to Channel 4.April Ashley was a transgender model, dancer, restaurant owner and equalities campaigner who was involved in the landmark divorce trial Corbett v Corbett.Born George Jamieson in Liverpool, Ashley suffered from calcium deficiency during her childhood and required weekly injections at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the city’s West Derby area.Her obituary in The Telegraph suggests she knew at 15 she wanted to become a woman but signed-up with the Merchant Navy a year later, only to be given an dishonourable discharge after an alleged suicide attempt.At the age of 25, after embarking on a career in Paris as a part of a drag cabaret act, Ashley went to Morocco where she had gender reassignment surgery.She returned to Britain and became a successful fashion model, appearing in British Vogue for which she was photographed by David Bailey.Ashley also won a small role in the '60s
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