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April Ashley, First Known Trans Model in 'Vogue,' Has Died at 86

April Ashley

April Ashley, who is reportedly the first Briton to undergo gender confirmation surgery, has died. Liverpool Echo first reported the news.

Ashley, who was born in Liverpool, is the first known trans model to appear in an issue of Vogue. She was shot by David Bailey in 1960 for British Vogue. She was not publicly known to be trans at the time but in an unpublished documentary about my life she said that those she worked with knew.

"They all knew about my operation — they all knew who I was," she said. "None of the photographers gave a damn about my past. They wanted me in their portfolio." She also shot with the likes of Richard Dormer and Terry Donovan.

April Ashley

She had traveled to Casablanca, Morocco earlier that year to undergo surgery by Georges Burou. She was reportedly the ninth patient of Dr. Burou. 

In addition to modeling, Ashley began an acting career and appeared in The Road to Hong Kong.

A friend of Ashley's outed her to the Sunday People in 1961. The outing completely changed her life and career. The friend was reportedly paid only 5 sterling pounds for the admission. The headline read: "The Extraordinary Case of Top Model April Ashley — Her Secret is Out.

In 1962, she married the heir of Lord Rowallan, Arthur Corbett. He divorced her in 1969 and the marriage was annulled, setting a legal precedent wherein the court ruled that Ashley was assigned male at birth the marriage was not legally sound. 

''In 2005, she was granted a new birth certificate recognizing her gender as female after the 2004 Gender Recognition Act was put into place.

At 77, in 2012, Ashley was appointed an MBE for services to transgender equality. She has published a memoir and was the subject of a much-viewed museum exhibition. 

RELATED | Born Beautiful: A Short History of Trans Models In Fashion

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