Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Sunday, 2 January 2022


 The recent death of April Ashley will have had some impact on many of us within the Trans community, I never met her, although I understand we have used the same electrolosist, but she still had a big impact on my life. I won't write about her life, or her impact on the community, as the BBC have already done that better than I could here. 

April Ashley
I remember hearing about her in the 60s, I think she was the first trans person I ever heard about, it certainly had a big impact on me. What she did made me realise that such things could be done, it wasn't just fantasy, yet it also seemed so remote from my suburban life, certainly the comments I heard from family, friends, and the media made it clear that such things were not for the likes of me. She was portrayed as a freak, a pervert and very much an exception. Where she should have been celebrated as a role model and pioneer she was decried as subversive. Yet because of her we knew! Even as I grew up and became increasingly socialised as a man learning to hide y femininity, I cherished the knowledge of April and others like her and hugged it to my breast.

Roberta Cowell, race driver!

Later I heard about Roberta Cowell another pioneer, and for me a local as well! Like April Ashley her life wasn't easy, but again she had done what she needed to do, and through her celebrity made us realise what could be done. That we had an alternative. 

Most of us may not aspire to be photographed by Vogue or to race single seater race cars, but the profile of pioneers like these two made us all realise what could be done, where they led it made it easier for others to follow. Just knowing that pioneers had already travelled the path made it easier for others to follow.

Being shy and retiring, but visible!
Under the current climate pioneers are still important, there are at least two families I have known for many years, many years before my transition, where one of their children has had to come out as trans, that they knew me has eased the path for those families ~ if nothing else they knew what being trans meant! 

Last year was the first year for many that I didn't mark TDOR with a ceremony, I'm not sure if I will again, but I do know I will continue to mark Trans Day Of Visibility, I will continue to perform, I will continue to be active, so people can look at me and think "well if she can anyone can!" As social pressures change, as access to medical support gets ever worse, I think it is ever more important that we help show the way, often just by being, by quietly getting on with our lives, showing that it is possible to be trans and live a normal life.


Alice Maughan said...

Thanks for your wonderful post about April Ashley. Thanks for sharing it. Alice

Alice Maughan said...

A wonderful post about April. Thanks for sharing it. Alice

Alice Maughan said...

Sorry for the duplication I was not sure I had posted the first time!