Train journey’s are quite often spent glancing over the day’s news in the Metro, tired eyes seeing the words but minds wandering else where, or what is often the case for me, catching my breath after sprinting to the station. Either way it is not usually the environment to find yourself moved to tears over an article that draws you in so completely to its story. As the thrifty type, when I boarded I took a seat next to a pile of discarded magazines and papers, flicking the pages until I faced a black and white photograph of the enigmatic, 60‘s icon- April Ashley. Her name rang a bell, her image slightly recognisable but I knew nothing of her life.
I read the article with disbelief and sympathy for the woman who strived for the freedom to be herself amongst a culture that didn’t accept her. Subject of a new exhibition in the Museum of Liverpool, where she was born as George Jamieson, she was one of the first people in the world to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The exhibition illustrates the battle she faced against discrimination and displays the changing social and legal conditions for all transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual people, with her own contribution to these movements earning her an MBE.
The refreshing pages I read of April Ashley’s life emphasised that the phrase ‘slowly but surely’ is wholly relevant in regards to societies changing attitudes towards sexuality and gender representation.