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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
Africa: Sub-Saharan, Pre-Independence
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
 
Stonewall Riots Stonewall Riots
The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
 
Native Americans
A social role for individuals who crossed or mixed male and female characteristics was one of the most widely distributed institutions of native North America.
 
The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980 The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980
The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
 
Mixed-Orientation Marriages
Mixed-orientation marriages--those in which one partner is straight and the other is gay or lesbian--often end in divorce, but such an ending is not inevitable.
 
Leather Culture
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.
 
Transgender Activism
Since the late nineteenth century, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the kinds of oppression and discrimination they suffer.
 
Gay Liberation Front
Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.
 
Congratulations
 
Congratulations April Ashley, MBE
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/18/12
Last updated on: 06/18/12
 
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April Ashley.

Congratulations to April Ashley, who on June 15, 2012 was named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. A former model and actress turned activist, Ashley is the first openly transgender person named in the monarch's "honor's list." She was honored for her "services to transgender equality."

The 77-year-old Ashley was born George Jamieson in Liverpool. Fleeing an unhappy childhood, in which she endured numerous beatings because of her effeminacy, she joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 14. After a suicide attempt at the age of 15, she was discharged from the Merchant Navy and subjected to electric shock treatment at a mental institution, where she was raped.

In 1950, she moved to Paris, where she began living as a woman, became a transvestite entertainer, and worked as a hostess at Le Carousel, a drag club. At the age of 25, on May 12, 1960, she underwent sex reassignment surgery in Casablanca.

Ashley then returned to England, where she became a top fashion model and appeared in small roles in films. She was "outed" in 1961, when a friend sold her story to the media.

The exposure created a scandal and made her into a "celebrity freak." It effectively ended her career.

She was rumored to have had romantic liaisons with prominent men, including actors Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole and artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

In 1963, she married Arthur Corbett, an Eton-educated aristocrat who later became the 3rd Baron Rowallan. Although Corbett knew of her history when they married, in 1970 he sued to have the marriage annulled on the grounds that Ashley had been born male.

As Michael Seabrook and Nick McDermott report in London's Daily Mail, the divorce proceedings "became one of the most talked about events of the decade with details of the case exploding over the newspapers. The couple faced each other in the courtroom, with Corbett claiming the union should be annulled on the grounds that because Ashley had been born a man, the marriage had never been legally sound."

The court ruled in Corbett's favor, thus setting a precedent that left transsexuals in legal limbo. Not until 2004 was legislation passed that allowed transsexuals to be recognised legally as the gender of their choice, legislation that Ashley emerged in the new millennium to champion.

In 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognized as a female and issued with a new birth certificate. The then Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom John Prescott, who knew Ashley from the 1950s, helped her with the procedure.

In the video below, Ashley is interviewed in 2010 in connection with an exhibit on gender at London's Wellcome Collection.

 
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