Hi, I’m April Ashley
I’ve created this web site to tell my story, to raise awareness for social equality and to communicate more easily with friends, acquaintances and most of all the hundreds of people with gender problems all over the world who contact me by mail for help and advice.
My story begins in 1935 in a tough, working class area of Liverpool, England, where I was born as a boy into a sea-going family. My childhood in Liverpool was tough. Systematic bullying and taunting about my feminine good looks brought the early and awful realisation that if a person were not what people considered ‘normal’ then that person was considered a ‘freak’.
Intense confusion about by gender set in. Sex Change was then a taboo subject. Boys were boys and girls were girls. Tolerant and liberal people were unwilling to deal with, or even discuss, the issue.
At the age of 14, I joined the navy and went to sea. But this isolated life added to my confusion and a desperate suicide attempt followed. At the age of 16, I found myself in a high security mental hospital. The future looked bleak.
In the early 1950’s I escaped to London and then to Paris where I joined the cast of the cabaret at the world famous ‘Carousel’. Success as an artiste followed.
In Paris, I debated with myself the decision to have a sex change. It was a hard decision. I knew I would be pioneering a dangerous operation. The doctor told me there was a 50/50 chance I would not come through. However, I knew I was a woman and that I could not live in a male body. I had no choice. I flew to Casablanca and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since ‘My Odyssey’ was published, times have changed. The term ‘sex change’ has segued into the politically correct term ‘gender reassignment’. Public attitudes in the Western world have become non-judgmental and tolerant of sexual differences. Most important, the legal systems of many countries have recognised the rights of transsexuals to appropriate social documentation and to marry and lead socially conventional lives.
I am now at work on a new autobiography that will cover the years from 1980 to the present day. In today’s liberated climate, I have the chance (and also personally feel prepared) to include a lot of material and detail that was eliminated from my previous book.